In the face of an indefinite pandemic, Church’s Chicken is undergoing what it described as a “multifaceted HR revolution.”
Since the start of the crisis, the brand has limited the number of employees at its headquarters by allowing vulnerable workers—or those with vulnerable family members—to work remotely without any decrease in benefits or salary.
Church’s is preparing to lean further into remote work as it restructures its workplace footprint.
The corporate team—headquartered in Atlanta—was previously housed in two separate buildings and the test kitchen, supply chain, and research and development teams were on two floors. Church’s said the separation led to "unnecessary delays in ad-hoc meetings and conversations necessary for immediate decision-making.”
That will no longer be an issue for Church’s. While the test kitchen and research and development employees will remain in place, all other workers will move into a single building to increase efficiency.
This transition coincides with a new remote work schedule that involves some employees working completely from home and others working up to three days at home per week. A new “Distributed Workforce” policy will divide onsite and remote workers by team. These groups will alternate onsite and remote days and everyone will work remotely on Fridays.
“The aim of the policy—which goes into effect on June 15—is to allow for better social distancing and time for employees to watch over children and family members at home while communities adjust to the ‘new normal,’” the company said in a statement.
“The company used research-based judgement and multi-dimensional considerations to determine work and roles that lent itself to a remote or split work model,” the brand added. “This, in combination with analyzing their floorplan to ensure workspace, safety, organizational readiness, and preparedness, provides improved social distancing while also preserving the dynamics of in-personal team engagement, safely and responsibly.”
The new schedule will be tested throughout the summer, with the potential of continuing permanently. The company is paying for costs associated with setting up home offices, and remote employees will be given an office supply budget.
Church’s has provided training and technology to assist with the transformation. A mandatory “Business Health & Safety Guidelines” course reinforces the importance of safety. Additionally, the chain is expanding the archive on its intranet site to include new workplace polices, updated CDC guidelines, FAQs, and tools to ensure success while working remotely. The company is using Microsoft Teams to facilitate virtual conferencing among all employees globally.
Karen Viera, SVP and chief people officer, has worked closely with Beyond CorpComm to shape the new employment policies.
“Our people are our most valuable asset at Church’s,” Viera said in a statement. “The tremendous gains of the past few years would have been impossible without our teams working at every level to make this brand one of the leaders in the industry. The needs of workers aren’t the same as they were 20 years ago, or even two years ago. We don’t have to limit ourselves with that kind of thinking. We absolutely can give employees more of what they want while still meeting and exceeding company goals. The technology and resources are there—and so is the personal commitment to make this new era work well for everyone.”
CEO Joe Christina said the new policies fulfill the company’s prediction that 2020 was going to be the year that Church’s becomes a leader in its category, industry, and business in general.
“None of that happens without engaging employees in that journey,” Christina said in a statement. “We’ve often said our aim is to be Global Franchisor of Choice, but we also hold an equally strong drive to be the Global Employer of Choice. I applaud the work of Ms. Viera, Beyond CorpComm, and all of the employees who have made—and will make—this transformation possible.”