At McDonald's Career Day.

McDonald’s Restaurants in Singapore was recently in the news for wanting to hire 600 seniors during its inaugural McDonald’s Career Day. The company has been a pioneer in hiring seniors, Agelessonline finds out more about its policies and being all-inclusive from Tan Kwang Cheak, senior director, Operations, Brand Extensions, Business Planning and Human Resources, McDonald’s Restaurants, Singapore:

How much of your workforce comprises of mature workers? Where are they typically placed?

In Singapore, McDonald’s currently has over 115 restaurants serving more than five million customers every month. We employ around 8,500 employees, of which around 40 percent are mature workers (defined as those who are 40 years old and above).

We focus on proper hiring and orientation processes for our employees when they first join us. Regardless of age, they are fully trained and proficient in various stations in our restaurants and can work in our lobbies, kitchen areas or at our service counters. Our restaurant managers will assign the relevant workstations to our employees, regardless of age, based on the individual restaurant’s needs and manpower availability.


I understand the oldest worker is 84-year-old “Auntie” Lily Cheng at the Boat Quay outlet. Can you share the reason why she decided on working?

We are not at liberty to share her personal reasons for working with us but she clearly exemplifies our focus on employing and engaging our mature workers and is a shining example of active ageing in our society.

Many of our mature workers cite the energising work environment, the opportunity to interact with people of all ages and friendships that they form in our restaurants, as well as, the flexibility of working with us as key factors in their decision to continue working with us.


When did you start hiring older workers? Why do you feel that hiring mature workers is important?

McDonald’s Singapore was a consecutive recipient of the Aon Hewitt Best Employer award in Singapore in 2007, 2009 and 2011. We were also awarded Aon Hewitt Best Employer in Asia-Pacific in 2009 and 2011.

As a best employer, McDonald’s does not set any age boundary when hiring our employees. We hire people who are fun, energetic, young-at-heart and have a sincere service attitude. In fact, McDonald’s was one of the pioneers to recruit mature workers and we have done so since the start of our business in Singapore in 1979.

Our mature workers are fondly called “Aunties and Uncles” and are treated as a valuable part of our McDonald’s family. They often offer valuable advice and guide our younger crew in their work. They are also loyal and tend to stay with us as they enjoy the environment, the flexibility and the future that we can offer.


Can you share more about your training?

We ensure that the new hires are properly oriented and trained for their work during their first 30 days at work. We also train our managers to take care of their mature workers and manage them as part of the team. We allow them adequate breaks during their shifts so that they can work well and productively. Our key challenges include hiring mature workers with the service mindset, disposition and willingness to learn and do well in our jobs, and orientating and training them to ensure that they are productive and happy in their workstations particularly in the first 30 days when they join our restaurants.


Can you share more about the flexible hours and employee benefits?

Regardless of age, our employees can opt for either full- or part-time work employment in our restaurants. All policies concerning employee welfare and benefits apply to every employee, regardless of age, race, religion or marital status.

Some examples are:

  • Annual leave, medical leave, and medical and insurance coverage apply to all employees.
  • All employees are eligible for the various company awards and to attend company events as long as they are actively employed by the company.
  • Promotion criteria are strictly based on the performance of the individual.


McDonald’s doesn’t pay much (keeping in mind minimum wage and so forth). Even with the 20-percent increase for this year that you mentioned during your talk at the Age Friendly Workforce Asia 2011 Conference, I am assuming that can’t be a lot. So why do seniors want to join your company?

McDonald’s Singapore provides competitive wages and benefits for our people, in line with industry and market wage levels. Beyond remuneration considerations, our employees join us also because we provide great employee value propositions to them:

a. Friends and family – great energising environment and teamwork in our restaurants. We take care of them as part of our McFamily.

b. Flexibility – We offer them full flexibility in terms of work schedules and jobs to meet their needs and concerns at their respective life stages.

c. Future – At McDonald’s, every crew can be a manager. Employees are exposed to an environment of career-long learning opportunities and are encouraged to expand their skills and experience. Development programmes are designed for each level of our restaurant staff and all are provided the opportunity for career growth, regardless of their age.

Our founder Ray Kroc aptly said that “We are a People company serving hamburgers; and not just a hamburger company serving people”. At McDonald’s, our People are our most valuable resources and our People Promise is a commitment to our employees that we strive to achieve with our actions everyday.


Would you say you are ahead of the Re-employment Act that will take place next year? What advice would you give other companies who still need to get their act together?

McDonald’s Singapore is able to fully comply with the Retirement and Re-employment Act (RAA) because our people philosophy is fully aligned with it. Our mature workers are treated like all other employees and they receive the same salary rate, employment benefits and development opportunities as their younger counterparts. They also continue to enjoy annual increments until they reach the ceiling of their wage band, where they are awarded performance bonuses. (As in all organisations, our remuneration structure is based on salary grades linked to the job profile and level. Each salary grade comes with a salary band based on wage competitiveness and benchmarks with the market.)

More companies should realise that mature workers can form a vital part of any workforce, and given the right environment they can contribute just as much to a business as their younger counterparts. We have seen that mature workers who are adaptable, open to new experiences and maintain a positive mindset tend to enjoy their work more.


During the Age Friendly Workforce Asia 2011 Conference, experts spoke that it is not just about hiring. The company needs to have its environment elderly-friendly. How have you done this?

As examples, to create an operations-friendly work environment for our employees, we have simplified training aids including greater use of visuals and graphics in instructional guides. We have also designed our point-of-sales system with visual representations of menu items for easy order-taking and speedy service.


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