Talent & Benefits

Providing a best-in-class employee experience – where people are given opportunities to learn and develop – is a business imperative because it directly impacts the customer experience.

McDonald's employees smiling around a table with laptop computers

People are not only at the heart of our Company, but they are also critical to the long-term success of our business. Tangibly demonstrating our culture of care is central to our core values and driving our business forward.

Led by these values, we are committed to fostering workplaces where everyone feels supported, has equitable access to opportunity and feels empowered to realize their full potential through differentiated development opportunities and benefits.

Recent Progress

Reopened in-person learning for Restaurant Staff through Hamburger University (HU) after pivoting to online and on-demand training in 2020.

Developed a System-wide digital education program for Restaurant Staff, including an innovative Loyalty Simulator gamification experience in the U.S. with an over 3,000% increase in usage, as we continue modernizing the learner experience.

Invested in four new leadership development programs for Corporate Staff.

Closed the small pay gaps identified in our 2021 pay gap analysis.

For related topics, see also our pages about our commitments to Safe & Respectful Workplaces, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Human Rights.

Our Strategy

Our Company and the Employees We Reach

The Company has approximately 200,000 employees as of year-end 2021, which include those in the Company’s corporate offices as well as in Company-owned and operated restaurants. Most of these employees work in flexible, part-time roles.

Looking across the System, nearly 2 million people work within a McDonald’s-brand restaurant globally. We and our Franchisees demonstrate our culture of care and drive the business forward by providing learning, development and advancement resources that support employee growth at all levels.

Our Approach in Brief

Our core strategy supports employees of the Company, comprising McDonald’s Corporation and its majority-owned subsidiaries, including Corporate Staff and those working in Company-owned and operated restaurants. Alongside this, we also embrace the opportunity to offer guidance, resources, tools and strategic partnerships to the Owner/Operators of franchise restaurants (Franchisees) as they aim to support and empower their own employees.

Below we explain the following:

  • How we and our Franchisees are attracting, developing and retaining talent.

  • Compensation and wages.

  • Our global benefits principles and locally relevant rewards.

Attracting, Developing and Retaining Restaurant Staff

Together with our Franchisees, we are committed to providing training, education and career pathways to empower Restaurant Staff (people working in a McDonald’s-brand restaurant globally). We want to make McDonald’s one of the best places to work by offering development opportunities that simply can't be found anywhere else.

By creating an environment of continuous learning and development, McDonald’s and its Franchisees are focused on attracting and retaining the very best people. We and our Franchisees are dedicated to providing learning and development opportunities for people at all stages of their journey, whether they choose to build a career with McDonald’s, or beyond. Training, education and leadership development programs can take them to the highest levels of our organization, regardless of where they start at McDonald’s. Many of today’s Franchisees and corporate leaders began their McDonald’s careers as restaurant crew and managers.

We know that employees stay at a company if they feel it is invested in their careers. In partnership with Franchisees, we regularly introduce new programs and digital tools that help address key challenges and make it easier for all Restaurant Staff to succeed on the job and ultimately grow into leadership roles.

We have also developed an optional toolkit of principles and best practices to help Franchisees recruit and retain talent. It includes recruitment and retention workshops, activation guides to bring McDonald’s values to life, and attraction and employer branding materials.

Hamburger University and Our Signature Learning Approach

HU is McDonald’s signature learning and development approach. It first opened in Illinois in 1961 and has since grown to eight campuses around the world. It provides training for Company-owned restaurant employees, as well as Franchisees and eligible employees from their organizations, and has helped to prepare thousands of students for leadership positions in the restaurant industry.

We’re expanding HU beyond physical campuses and establishing it as the signature learning and development approach for all employees at McDonald’s, as well as those working with Franchisees, building upon the legacy and offering development programs to empower people to continuously grow.

Setting Up Restaurant Staff Members for Success

From their very first day on the job, we want to ensure all restaurant teams are set up for success. We are enhancing our digital education approach and strategy to continue to provide employees with the tools to do their job well. By modernizing delivery of learning and development tools and services through easy-to-access, easy-to-consume, inclusive content that leverages advanced technologies, we’re meeting learners where they are. This includes pivoting from traditional training programs to simulation and gamified offerings that support bite-sized microlearning, as well as translating all training to support learning in native languages.

Continuing Education Support for Restaurant Staff

We believe opportunity starts with education – which is why McDonald’s and participating Franchisees offer avenues for learning to restaurant employees in 25 countries and counting. In many regions, McDonald’s and participating Franchisees are combining workplace training and study, and offering apprenticeship programs at various levels, so that people of all ages and at all stages of their educational and professional journey can build a career, regardless of previous experience or qualifications. 

Archways to Opportunity is a comprehensive education program in the U.S. that offers eligible employees the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language and gain access to academic and career advising services. Between 2015 and 2021, the impact of the program included:

  • Increasing access to education for more than 72,000 people as of year-end 2021.

  • 55,000 restaurant employees awarded college tuition assistance.

  • More than 1,500 graduates in the Career Online High School program.

  • More than 8,000 graduates from English Under the Arches since 2007.

  • More than $165 million awarded in high school and college tuition assistance.

We also know that apprenticeships – opportunities to earn nationally recognized qualifications while working – can improve lives. We offer apprenticeships in multiple markets in Europe to help promote and improve access to vocational training for young people. In the U.K. and Ireland, McDonald’s industry-leading program offers apprenticeships for crew members, customer experience leaders, shift leaders and salaried managers, and has produced over 19,500 qualified apprentices to date.

Attracting, Developing and Retaining Corporate Staff

Our Corporate Staff are working daily to make a positive impact on our business, our people and our communities, and we’re committed to supporting and empowering them to realize their full potential. Throughout the year, managers of Corporate Staff engage in critical conversations with their colleagues to motivate and to drive business impact, values leadership and individual growth.

In 2021, we evolved and expanded Performance Motivation to put our values at the heart of performance. The process involves four milestone conversations – Commit, Connect, Career and Conclude – along with sharing feedback year-round. Corporate Staff can enroll in our leadership development programs, which begin with units covering areas such as inclusive leadership. The next level focuses on areas including Leading as a Strategic Partner and Inspire, a two-day workshop with on-the-job application designed to help develop new and existing people leaders. The third level focuses on Elevate, a nine-month leadership program for high-potential directors.

We have partnered with DePaul University in Chicago to offer the McDonald’s DePaul University MBA Cohort program for Corporate Staff. DePaul provides a 25% tuition discount, and eligible Corporate Staff employees can combine the discount with their McDonald’s education benefits. The program is designed to give students the skills they need to move into leadership roles. Together with DePaul’s business professors and academic staff, we have created a customized course outline including strategic management, finance, marketing and effective business communication courses.

Talent Recognition

Demonstrating our culture of care is central to our values. Our recognition framework encourages dedicated effort, rewards results and celebrates career milestones in a meaningful way across the System. We have five global pinnacle awards that reward the highest achievers among Corporate Staff, Restaurant Staff and Franchisees, and we are working to implement peer-to-peer recognition in various markets.

Every year, through our annual Presidents’ Award, we reward the top 1% of Corporate Staff who have demonstrated all five of our Company values, while an annual Shining Light award goes to Corporate Staff who have best demonstrated one of our values in action. The Circle of Excellence is an annual award given to teams who have contributed most to our Company purpose, mission and values.

We also have two awards that are given every two years. Our Ray Kroc award for restaurant managers is presented for value-led behaviors, as well as for noteworthy business and financial results. Finally, the Fred Turner Golden Arch Awards recognize Franchisees who have made significant contributions to our purpose, mission and values.

Compensation and Wages

In order to attract and retain talent at all levels of the business, we provide competitive compensation commensurate with a Company employee’s position. We evaluate competitive wage data and market trends to determine appropriate wage ranges, and ensure compliance with all applicable wage and hour laws.

We introduced our Global Pay Principles to our owned markets in 2019, to ensure that good pay practices are understood and consistently implemented for all Company employees.

  • Competitive – Pay opportunities are aligned with the external value of a job to attract, engage and motivate talent. The competitiveness of our pay rates is reviewed regularly relative to peer companies that reflect our size, scale, performance and talent needs.

  • Non-Discriminatory – Company employees are compensated at a level commensurate with their role, responsibility, impact, location, experience, knowledge, skills and performance, irrespective of gender, race, ethnicity or any other similar protected personal characteristics. See also our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page.

  • Performance-Based – Pay is focused on motivating high performance, recognizing achievement and reinforcing behaviors that align with our culture.

  • Understandable – Pay programs are communicated regularly and transparently. We strive for simplicity and focus on the design of our programs to ensure Company employees understand what determines their pay.

  • Compliant – We comply with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements and standards.

In 2021, we announced a commitment to prioritize equal pay for equal work through a goal to close pay gaps identified in annual equal pay analyses for women globally in Company-owned and operated markets and for underrepresented groups in the U.S. at the staff and Company-owned restaurant levels. Read more on our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion page.

Global Benefits Principles and Locally Relevant Rewards

We offer competitive benefits to the 200,000 people employed by McDonald’s Corporation and its majority-owned subsidiaries worldwide as of year-end 2021, and offer resources to our Franchisees to support them in designing competitive benefit packages for their employees.  

In most countries, we offer benefits to full- and part-time Company employees working more than a certain number of hours.

Overview of Benefits Offered in Our Top Markets

Below, we’ve provided an overview of foundational benefits offered in our top six Company-operated markets by revenue. Our Global People teams work to identify the particular needs of Corporate Staff and Company-owned and operated restaurant employees in different countries, creating locally relevant and competitive benefit packages.

The United States
In the U.S., we offer healthcare and retirement benefits as well as paid time off and parental leave to Corporate Staff and Company-owned restaurant employees working more than a certain number of hours or, for paid parental leave, based on position.

In addition to our core benefits, we offer employees in the U.S. a wide range of programs to best support their needs and goals: life and accident insurance; education assistance; Lyra mental health support; adoption assistance; discount childcare; matching charitable gifts; subsidized backup child-care; and employee discount program.

In Australia, all employees have access to retirement benefits, fully funded by employer contributions, as required by law. Additionally, we offer healthcare benefits, paid time off1 and parental leave to Corporate Staff and Company-owned restaurant employees working more than a certain number of hours.

In Canada, all employees have access to public healthcare funded by employer health tax. Additionally, we offer healthcare and retirement benefits as well as paid time off and parental leave to Corporate Staff and Company-owned restaurant employees working more than a certain number of hours.

In France, all employees are automatically enrolled in retirement benefits, provided for by law. Additionally, we offer healthcare benefits, paid time off and parental leave to Corporate Staff and Company-owned restaurant employees, as provided by law or by Company agreements.

In Germany, all employees are covered by the comprehensive public healthcare system and automatically enrolled in retirement benefits provided for by law. Additionally, we offer paid time off and parental leave to Corporate Staff, Company-owned restaurant employees and employees of our majority-owned subsidiaries working more than a certain number of hours.

The United Kingdom
In the U.K., all employees are covered by the public healthcare system and automatically enrolled in retirement benefits provided for by law. Additionally, we offer paid time off and parental leave to Corporate Staff, Company-owned restaurant employees and employees of our majority-owned subsidiaries working more than a certain number of hours.

Measuring Our Progress

Delivering a best-in-class employee experience requires us to put our five core values into action. We measure how we are progressing through performance against our Values and Inclusion Indices.

Four of our values – Community, Family, Integrity and Serve – are embedded in our composite Values Index, which we use to measure the Company’s progress against these values. The survey we use to calculate our Index score is provided to all our Corporate Staff from our Global, U.S. and Internationally Operated Markets.

We measure progress against our fifth value – Inclusion – using our Inclusion Index. This Index measures behaviors and actions the Company is taking to ensure we have an inclusive environment for everyone that works for the brand. The Index measures attributes that are critical to being yourself at work, offering different opinions and advancing through the Company.

We are driving change by holding our leaders directly accountable for making tangible progress on our Values and Inclusion Indices. Beginning in 2021, the Company incorporated quantitative metrics related to human capital management into annual incentive compensation awards for our CEO and Executive Vice Presidents. In addition to financial performance, executives are measured on the following four human capital management metrics:

  • Meeting or exceeding a specified McDonald’s Values Index score across all global staff employees.

  • Increasing representation of women globally at the Senior Director level and above.

  • Increasing representation of underrepresented minorities2 in the United States at the Senior Director level and above.

  • Meeting or exceeding a specified McDonald’s Inclusion Index score across all global staff employees.
Talent And Benefits

Our Actions

We’re improving the employee experience at work through smart investments in our people, processes and technology, including a technology system that houses key employee data, and creates consistency, standardization, efficiency and self-service options.

Market Focus: Restaurant Staff Wages in the U.S.

In the U.S., McDonald’s continues to enhance its compensation packages, including offering industry-leading pay and benefits for Company-owned Restaurant Staff.

In 2021, we raised hourly wages for more than 36,500 employees at Company-owned U.S. restaurants by an average of 10% – investing $70 million in restaurant wages. We plan to reach an average hourly wage of $15 for Company-owned restaurant employees by 2024. These raises reflect McDonald’s commitment to evaluating competitive wage data and the evolving legislation and regulatory environment to determine the appropriate wage ranges on a market-by-market level.

A third-party professional services partner is currently rolling out a Pay Matters workshop for U.S. Franchisees. These sessions include how to establish a wage philosophy and build competitive pay ranges, based on third-party local benchmarking data. Additionally, wage modeling tools are available to U.S. Franchisees, to help model different wage structures against local benchmarking data so they can make the best decisions around compensation for their organizations.

Talent And Benefits

Supporting Employee Well-Being

We provide resources to enhance the well-being of our Company employees. We have created a number of new well-being resources including:

  • BeWell@McD – an internal webpage dedicated to the well-being of our Company employees in the U.S. and organized into five pillars: Physical, Emotional, Financial, Social and Workplace.

  • A toolkit to help equip markets around the world with resources to create a well-being cross-functional team and materials relevant to their operations.

  • A weekly BetterTogether newsletter, sent to around 4,000 McDonald’s Corporate Staff in the U.S. and featuring benefits, new offerings and resources.

  • Regular additions and enhancements to McDonald’s benefits, offerings and resources for staff and Company-owned restaurant employees.

  • An interactive PDF resource featuring well-being offerings for Company-owned restaurant crew and managers, which is updated regularly.


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1 Excludes casual workers. Casual workers in Australia do not have fixed work hours, receive a higher hourly rate and do not qualify for certain benefits as outlined.

2 Underrepresented minorities and underrepresented groups are both terms used by McDonald’s to describe U.S. employees who have self-identified as racial or ethnic minorities.

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