McDonald's CEO Steve Easterbrook wants to redefine the chain's employer brand. Georgina Fuller finds out what he has on the menu.
Steve Easterbrook, chief executive and president of McDonald's UK, likes to run his business with the same transparency as one of the famous fast-food chain's 1,225 UK outlets. The 2.5 million people that visit a McDonald's each day can clearly see the kitchens and the preparation that goes into their meal. McDonald's UK employees are also given a window into the mechanics of the company, according to Easterbrook.
"Businesses today have become increasingly transparent - from employment practices to how and where your food is made. Anyone that joins McDonald's needs to understand the processes that make it work," says Easterbrook. All new starters, from marketing executives to senior managers, spend at least a week in one of the restaurants as part of their induction.
Easterbrook became CEO and president in April this year, having joined McDonald's from PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1993 as an accountant. He became regional vice-president for the UK's southern region in 2001 after spending time in operations and finance.
Easterbrook's philosophy is simple and he is clear about where his priorities lie.
"If you get the people part right, the rest will follow," he says.
HR at the centre
HR is at the centre of the business and Easterbrook likes to create an egalitarian working environment. "HR is a key driver in shaping and implementing our strategy as a progressive employer," he says. "I never underestimate the challenge of looking after our workforce, and our people practices are absolutely fundamental. I want our workforce to feel comfortable, respected and valued. There is a hierarchy, but there are no airs and graces here," he says.
The 67,000 UK staff all have Easterbrook's e-mail address and, he claims, he answers all queries personally.
His commitment to HR is evident in the fact that David Fairhurst, McDonald's vice-president (people), is one of Easterbrook's four direct reports (together with finance, marketing and IT). However, with just 54 people in the HR and training teams at McDonald's UK, spread across its London headquarters in East Finchley and regional offices, the HR function is, in the words of Fairhurst, "somewhat lean".
Day-to-day responsibility for HR and training is devolved to line managers and the company's