[AI] FW: Work with KFC captured in Business Standard

Kotian, H P hpkotian at rbi.org.in
Thu Jul 1 23:58:36 EDT 2010

From: Anubhuti Mittal [mailto:anubhuti.mittal at gmail.com]
Sent: 02 July 2010 07:18
Subject: Work with KFC captured in Business Standard


Letting actions speak

Manisha Pande/Business Standard/New Delhi - Jul 02,2010 00:20 AM

Yum! Restaurants as part of its CSR initiative has six KFC stores across the country that hire people with hearing -and-speech impairment.

At first instance, the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet at Vasant Kunj Fun Mall in New Delhi is like any other of the fast food chain's outlets, with the conspicuous image of Colonel Sanders welcoming you. But when you head to the counter to place the order, you might be startled by the attendant greeting you in sign language and pointing towards a badge pinned to his shirt, which reads "point out your order.&"

The boy will then present you with a copy of the menu card to do so. Once you have placed your order, he confirms it by pointing at the menu card again and signs at you to look at the billing machine's screen for the cost of your meal. Welcome to KFC's specially-abled store.

As part of its CSR initiative in India, Yum! Restaurants had opened the first such KFC outlet in Kolkata in 2008. The company now has six specially-abled stores ; three in Kolkata and one each in New Delhi, Hyderabad and Chennai, where hearing- and speech-impaired people account for about more than 50 per cent of the total staff.

The world's largest fast food company plans to take that number to 70 per cent across the six stores, along with opening a seventh one in Bangalore.

"While we wanted to employ people with hearing and speech disabilities, we also wanted to get them to mainstream and give them a chance at everything, from cooking in the kitchen to taking orders,&" says Binoo Wadhwa, director, HR, Yum! Restaurants India.

Yum! collaborated with Anubhuti HR Consultants ; which works at finding employment for the specially-abled group, among others ; for hiring and assisting the training period for the entire staff.

"During the training period we had a translator who explained everything that was being taught in sign language simultaneously. We also organised sign language classes for the managers and the rest of the staff to ensure effective in-house communication,&" says Anubhuti M Bhattacharya, founder of Anubhuti HR Consultants.

The staff also carries a notepad and pen at all times to communicate with one another. Small changes like adding a red blinker near the counter help, too. "There has to be constant communication between the cash counter, supply base (where the burgers and other meals are prepared) and the kitchen. For instance, if there is an order for a burger with extra cheese, ordinarily, the person at the cash counter can shout out the order. Since that's not a possibility in this case, we have installed a red bulb, which can be switched on every time there is a need for communication,&" explains Seshagiri Rao, resident general manager (RGM) of the KFC outlet in Hyderabad, where 70 per cent of the staff is specially abled.

Such stores maybe a lot quieter, but definitely not less efficient. "The attention level of the differently-abled is phenomenal and they don't give up challenges easily. We have had no attrition. And they smile a lot more,&" says Deepak Ravindran, RGM at Delhi's KFC outlet.

The management, though, makes it a point to always have someone overlooking the operations at the counter so that everything goes smoothly. Managers across all stores however claim that there has never been a complaint from any of the customers.

"It's really a case of visual versus verbal,&" explains Wadhwa. Going to a specially-abled store is just the same as eating at a KFC restaurant in a foreign country where you might not know the language, she adds.

While other chains like Cafe Coffee Day too hire specially-abled staff as part of their CSR initiatives, most companies do not know how to go about hiring people with handicaps.

"We need to understand that there are a set of criteria that suit a particular job profile which need to be fulfilled, even by a disabled person. For example, someone working at KFC should be okay with handling non-vegetarian food, standing for long hours and needs to have the general aptitude to be in the hospitality business. So, even for a disabled person the mangement must follow a rigorous selection procedure and not just hire anyone because they are disabled,&" explains Bhattacharya.

Even though companies show willingness to hire specially-abled people, there are still pre-conceived notions that have to be battled. "People associate any kind of disability with a learning disorder. Companies often conclude that these people cannot operate computers and will be slow learners,&" says Bhattacharya.

She argues that people with disabilities, if trained properly ,are as good as anyone else and can be an asset to the organisation. "Companies need not feel they are being charitable by employing the specially-abled,&" says Bhattacharya.



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