A Fortune 500 corporation, Yum! operates the famous brands like Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut. It is one of the largest fast-food restaurant companies regarding system units with 43,617 restaurants around the world in over 135 countries.
One of the guiding principle that makes KFC a great place to work is “Believe in all people” and they have very nicely put this belief into actions. Aman Lal, Chief People Officer at KFC shares, “As a responsible employer we know that having diverse thoughts on table improves performance.” With this belief, KFC has been proactively creating employment opportunities for the specially abled thereby actively seeking a diverse workforce. Today, KFC runs more than 300 restaurants in the country and employ about over 170 specially abled employees (hearing & speech impaired) in more than 20 restaurants across the country.
Although the dynamics have changed over the years still there is a significantly high population who don’t find QSR (Quick Service Restaurants) exciting for various reasons, e.g., many specially abled people find QSR job profiles taxing as compared to other jobs. The nature of the job is such that it requires the person to stay on feet for the entire day.
The challenges that the company was looking to solve were:
- Sourcing candidates
- Dealing with a candidates’ preference for the government job because of a false impression that these jobs are “not- demanding” in nature
Solution - The Hiring Process:
- Sourcing and Attracting Candidates:
To source candidates, KFC has partnered with non-profit organizations like ‘Noida Deaf Society’ and ‘Sarthak’ to hire hearing and speech impaired candidates. Employee referrals have turned out to be one of the most useful tools for KFC in recruiting people with disability as these people constitute an active community.
Due to a lack of special needs schools focused on retail, especially that focus on skill development and employability, KFC setup the “KFC Academy” which was formerly known as Yum! Academy. At this academy, KFC work on developing the right skill sets that increases employability not just with them, but across the retail sector.
The idea is to go upstream and make the hearing & speech impaired youth employable in India through this academy. It is a fully sponsored program for about 11 weeks in which they are taught English and critical skills for employment in the retail and hospitality sector. The objective is not only to employ them at the Special KFC restaurants but also to impart vocational skills that can be used at every stage of their careers in the industry.
Customized hiring tools are used in the recruitment process. Every candidate has to go through a TMRI, i.e., Team Member Readiness Inventory assessment. It is the first step of the interview process. A TMRI consist of 30 questions which test specific competencies to perform a target job.
KFC has a detailed orientation program for the specially abled employees. The company uses various visual training tools and technology for hearing and speech impaired candidates. They have also partnered with different organizations in different cities, who train their managers and interpreters at the specially abled restaurants. The whole store team of special KFC stores learns sign language.
- Performance & Customer Interface:
Currently, KFC employs these specially-abled candidates across the different parts of the restaurant which also includes the customer-facing roles. Akshay Katyal, Sr. Manager – RSC HR & Talent Acquisition shares, “It is delightful to share that customers are very supportive, kind & patient in their interaction with said employees, reaffirming our belief that there is a strong business case for employing the specially abled.”
- Controlled Attrition
The company got a workforce of loyal employees and observed less attrition. KFC now intends to open a specially-abled store for every 15 new stores. In these stores, they plan to have at least 60% specially abled workforce.
KFC plans unique engagement initiatives for these candidates by working closely with their families. The company invites their parents for a roundtable conversation to understand happiness and confidence levels of said employees. Regular one-on-one is held with them to understand their pain points. The company is poised to promote their special employees to grow up the managerial hierarchy as they create aspirational role models for other similar talents. Recently their six speech and hearing impaired employees cleared their internal assessment to get promoted to shift manager level. In 2014, Yum! India was awarded the prestigious National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities. The award recognizes KFC’s outstanding contribution as an employer of people with disabilities, providing them the opportunity to harness their professional aspirations and potential.