KFC is the world’s largest chain of fried chicken fast food restaurants, headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky. An “American icon,” it is the second-largest restaurant chain, with over 17,000 outlets in 105 countries and territories.
Yum! Brands, the world’s largest restaurant company, is the umbrella organization for iconic brands KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. The KFC UK & Ireland operation has 825 restaurants countrywide of which 65 percent are franchised, comprising of more than 25,000 employees, and has current annual sales of £850 million. The equity-owned restaurants and franchise restaurants range in size from one restaurant to over one hundred.
Global Learning Transformation
Up until 2007, KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands did not have a global unified learning platform in place. Each brand designed and developed its own training management system, leading to vast inconsistencies and inefficiencies. With a large global workforce, Yum! Brands realized there was an opportunity to drive greater consistency in the way that the brands prepared employees to work safely and serve customers.
After weighing the options, Yum! Brands chose Saba. This was to be implemented globally and, based on this, in 2010 KFC UK & Ireland began the transformation of its learning organization.
KFC identified three key stages to transforming its learning organization across the extended enterprise:
- To make every restaurant a training restaurant
- Structure: Partnership, Communication, Engagement
- Measures of Success Culture: Fun, Recognition
The vision for KFC was clear: To become known as the best company for training and development.
Most of the 25,000 employees working across the KFC UK & Ireland businesses are aged 16-24 and have high usage rates of technology. Young, tech-savvy employees would come to KFC and be faced with a stack of paper manuals, and a training philosophy of “read and learn.” It was evident that KFC needed to catch up with technology and change its approach to training.
Delivering consistent training was also a challenge for KFC. Across the 825 restaurants, each restaurant manager would deliver training in their own way, creating huge inconsistencies. KFC wanted to ensure that across all of its restaurants, every learner had the same experience and received the same training.
“If we want to step-change our capability and the development of our leaders, consistency is key, especially when we want to deliver an exceptional service experience for every customer on every visit,” commented Green.
A key challenge was to ensure that each type of restaurant, whether equity or franchise, was engaged in the transformation and would actively use the new learning program once implemented. Transforming their learning organization wasn’t just about implementing a learning management system. KFC wanted to become the employer of choice for training and development.
The transformation journey
In order for the project to be justified, KFC had to implement Saba in all 825 restaurants, provide all employees with access to eLearning, and deliver increased individual and business performance.
A cross-functional project team led all stages of the project including the design, development, piloting and launching of Saba and eLearning content. The implementation was to be managed over a two-year time period.
A pilot was launched with 12 restaurants, half equity-owned and half franchise-owned. The learning environment created was named “The Learning Zone.” The aim of the pilot was to engage and excite the business leaders and channel partners about The Learning Zone.
It also enabled two-way, open and honest communication about the implementation plans. Channel partners provided feedback and expertise into the franchise business. KFC developed a comprehensive communications strategy to ensure there were clear and timely communications to all stakeholders and used Saba Meeting to enable greater collaboration between the various stakeholders.
Project teams and partners met via monthly face-to-face meetings and via virtual classroom technology, enabling the sharing of documents and applications in real time. Saba Meeting also enabled the project team to demonstrate the learning content.
KFC developed The Learning Zone into a brand with the tagline “Love to Learn” and regular updates were communicated to employees using newsletters and social media. The idea was to create a viral and exciting feel about The Learning Zone. Following the pilot, Saba was officially launched to the extended enterprise via a three hour workshop to approximately 1,200 restaurant managers and business leaders.
Culture of success and recognition
Organizational culture and recognition is important across all of Yum! Brands’ restaurant brands. It was important for KFC to celebrate the project successes and achievements. Many of the team members who were part of the project teams had day jobs as well, so it was important for KFC to recognize the work they had done and to say thank you for what they had delivered. Team members played a critical part in the journey. Celebrating the achievements and milestones also enabled KFC to motivate the franchisees to join the transformation journey.
Award-winning training and development
The Learning Zone has been established as a university for KFC employees offering training and qualifications. In partnership with the City and Guilds, KFC now offers employees National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). In the future, KFC will also offer degree qualifications awarded by De Montfort University.
The time and investment that KFC has made in training and development for its employees is award winning. KFC won an award in the large organizations category at the Britain’s Top Employer awards where they scored highly for benefits, training and development, career development and company and culture.
Saba has provided KFC with a more efficient and engaging eLearning program. The switch from manual, paper-based training to the online eLearning content has seen a 65 percent decrease in the time taken for restaurant managers to deliver training, and a 30 percent decrease in time taken for the learners to complete the training.
This is a huge selling point as restaurant managers have been freed up from conducting training to focusing on the business. KFC is designing and developing a reporting and analytics suite which will be utilized to track and measure the training progress of employees. It will also provide the business with critical insights into the success of its training programs in supporting the growth and development of its employees. KFC is also currently leveraging Saba to deliver a Leadership Development Program “Taking People With You” to over 1,200 restaurant managers and restaurant leaders, supporting their personal growth and leadership capabilities.
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