Exclusive: L&D at KFC

Many young workers associate fast food with dead-end labour, but KFC’s HR chief explains how he’s dispelling that notion through professional growth initiatives.

Exclusive: L&D at KFC
HR leaders at KFC hold no illusions about the reasons that most applicants choose to work at the fast food restaurant chain.
“A lot of people join us by accident because they want some money to get through school or university,” said Ron Phipps, chief people officer.
As HR chief, Phipps works to ensure that employees, once they begin working at KFC, do not perceive the restaurants as “dead-end” or lacking opportunities for long-term professional growth. 
“It’s important for us to message to them that they can actually do more than earn some money when they join us; they can build a career,” Phipps said.
Some of the initiatives that he’s helped to implement include:
  • Graduate Leadership Program (GLP) – a clearly defined career path that general managers can take before acquiring a key field management role.  Phipps points out that many young employees work at KFC while studying, which requires an ardent work ethic.  “That’s a great foundation for someone who will be a great executive in the future.”
  • Master of Retail Management – an MBA program developed by KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, that teaches leadership skills for the retail sector
  • Education Assistance Program – an allowance of up to $1,000 for certain approved academic coursework
Phipps believes that leadership and development offerings such as these are critical, even during times of economic uncertainty.
“For us, in the way we run our restaurants, cutting back on development is disastrous,” he said.  “In order to run a successful business you simply need people to develop and you need to be able to staff the future business appropriately.  If you can’t do that, you’ll suffer a lot of long-term difficulty.

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