Food Industry

Lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University: Training For Retention

Learn lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University around improving your training to increase your employee retention
Lessons from McDonald’s Hamburger University: Training For Retention

When training is framed as a classroom experience, it brings out the student in people. This can increase knowledge and employee retention.

What is Hamburger University?

Know by many as HU, it was founded in 1961. The restaurant training institution has taught leadership skills to almost 300,000 McDonald’s managers in the United States, China, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, and Australia.

A degree in Hamburgerology represents the premier hospitality education a foodservice professional can attain. The acceptance rate at the Shanghai campus is 1%.

Is it really a college?

Yes! HU features classroom-based learning where students participate in group discussions and role-playing exercises. Classes for American shift managers and department leaders take place all over the country, and general manager classes are taught at MHQ in Chicago.

HU Professors are corporate Learning & Development consultants, many of whom worked their way up from restaurant jobs. They teach best practices on customer service and sharpen manager’ business acumen, which can translate to credits at partner institutions.

Why start a school for running restaurants?

McDonald’s was the first restaurant chain to establish a global training facility. Their standardized operations had become a manual for serving simple food quickly.

Hamburger University courses initially focused on teaching managers the production and service processes they needed to know to run efficient shifts. The curriculum has evolved to develop universal managerial skills like effective communication and emotional intelligence.

Why is training so important?

Restaurant owners spend most of their money on paying their staff. Employee turnover generates the highest labor cost.

The time spent on recruiting, interviewing, and training new hires eats into profit margins.

Losing a shift manager translates to about $5000 walking out the door, that how much an owner would needs to spend to replace someone. Investment in training that is designed to retain managers and team members creates high returns.

Hamburger University class at the Chicago campus.

How does Hamburger University retain employees?

HU provides a continuous education experience. Studies show that employees are more likely to stay in their jobs when they feel they’re learning new things.

Lack of training is the #1 reason why McDonald’s employees leave the restaurant. Average employment tenure is only a month.

On average, an operators losses $1,300 every time a crew members quits. It adds up quickly.

HIRING TIP: When hiring, remember a shift manager with high EQ helps create work environment where crew members want to keep working.

What can other restaurants learn from HU?

Branding goes a long way. Hamburger University clothing is wildly popular among any McDonald’s restaurant employees. It doesn’t have to be named after a signature dish, but a school-like onboarding experience can put folks in an open mindset that improves knowledge retention.

Whatever you call it, an academic approach provides structure for a new hire so they feel they’re progressing toward being a competent, satisfied employee.

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