Be your best self. Make a difference. Have fun. For more than three decades, Kathleen Gosser has promoted these “People Promise” pillars for Kentucky Fried Chicken. As Director of Learning and Organizational Development, she trains, develops and engages an ever-expanding and increasingly diverse workforce. Gosser said that despite the complexity of her duties, essentially her work can be summarized by asking the question, “How do we ensure a rich culture that guides performance?”
KFC believes their guest experience will never exceed that of their Team Members. So to ensure the best possible experience for their guests, they believe they must have a happy, capable, and engaged workforce. To accomplish this a promise is made to each and every one of the 86,000 Team Members working across all 4,200 US restaurants.
KFC promises to be a place where you can come to work and be your best self, make a difference, and have fun. To support their promise Gosser helps lead many programs and processes to help bring each component of the People Promise to life for those in the restaurants and at our Restaurant Support Center (RSC)!
Be your best self
KFC celebrates originality and diversity. They are passionate about making KFC a place where everyone can learn and grow in a culture where everyone is valued and respected.
One major focus to achieve that goal is through making sure that Team Members are trained for all new products and processes. For example, Gosser’s team created all of the learning materials for the recent launch of the spicy, crispy “Zinger” chicken sandwich.
Gosser also directs leadership development training, both in the restaurants and at the RSC. This includes culture and character development training for KFC US. Her team also recently created an innovative brand orientation program, Colonel-ology, which is the study of all things KFC and the Colonel. The program extends the history and culture of KFC, not only to new hires, but also exposes it to franchise partnerships and vendor relationships as well.
KFC also helps associates be their best self through employee resource groups and holistic wellness programs. “A caring culture and the more-than-market standard benefits and incentives help KFC to attract new employees,” said Kathleen Gosser. “We have a very diverse organization with amazing benefits – employee resource groups, onsite childcare and wellness facilities, and the list goes on.”
A flexible work environment means RSC employees enjoy half-day Fridays and casual dress all year. One enticing benefit for many potential job seekers is the generous parental leave policy. Mothers giving birth receive up to 18 weeks off paid at 100%, while other parents (including adoptive Mothers and Fathers) receive 6 weeks baby bonding time paid at 100% and adoption assistance reimbursement up to $3,000.
Make a difference
At KFC family, guests, and community service matter.
Yum! and KFC help provide educational opportunities and incentives to employees at all levels. Through the KFC Foundation, another of Gosser’s responsibilities, employees can complete their GED or qualify to receive college tuition assistance. The Foundation can also help employees in times of urgent need through the financial hardship fund.
Foundation Director Krista Snider said these benefits can be traced back to Colonel Sanders himself. “Harland Sanders was a generous man who gave to many causes and felt strongly about education,” said Snider. “He is the inspiration for what we do. Colonel Sanders was quoted as saying, ‘I will never pass anybody up.’ That’s at the heart of what we do.”
The KFC culture also loves to celebrate! Recognition is an integral part of the culture at KFC, through celebrating achievements big and small. The culture is brimming with positive energy, teamwork, and fun!
Measuring employee engagement
In order to ensure that KFC is holding up their promise to their teams, they ask them how they are doing! One of the activities for Gosser’s team is to conduct culture and engagement surveys for both the RSC and the restaurants.
In the restaurants, a twice-yearly culture survey is administered called Your KFC Voice. “The survey process is critical,” said Gosser. “We ask a plethora of questions about the culture in their restaurant – training, how their manager treats them, etc. We get this data and run that against a number of metrics, and are able to determine the most important things to drive employee engagement” she said.
“Training, recognition and communication are the biggest drivers,” said Gosser. “If people know how to do their jobs, they’re going to be happier. We have data that actually shows that correlation.”
Gosser said the research demonstrates that employee engagement is also a huge predictor of performance, so KFC places a strong focus on culture.
Gosser said the strong culture at KFC of communication, recognition for both corporate and restaurant team members, and the way they really care about one another, are the factors that have kept her at KFC for 33 years. One prime career learning opportunity Gosser had herself came in 2001 when her mentor at Yum! handed her the keys to 10 restaurants. She was told she needed operational experience and needed to manage the restaurants for a year to be promoted to the next level in the organization.
“At first, I thought, ‘Are you people crazy?’” said Gosser. “I have no idea what I’m doing. But in that year, I learned more than I ever have in my entire life.”
Helping people succeed is what Gosser said she is most passionate about – “helping people achieve their goals, educating and mentoring them, opening doors for them.” Making a difference is something Gosser also does teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville in the Masters of Human Resources program.
“Teaching is a developmental opportunity for me, as well as a way to give back,” said Gosser. “The questions students ask me will cause me to research things, or they’ll tell me things I didn’t know. It keeps me fresh. “
For information on careers at KFC, where you can make a difference and have fun at the same time, visit jobs.kfc.com.
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