The hiring shortage unleashed a variety of new initiatives by restaurant companies and their respective foundations in an effort to drive employees to their stores.
The KFC Foundation on Tuesday unveiled its latest plan, a new personal finance program called “MyChange with SaverLife.” The new investment from the KFC Foundation comes in partnership with nonprofit fintech company SaverLife, and aims to boost employee savings. Available to all KFC restaurant employees across the country, the program was designed with the goal to help KFC team members build short-term savings and foster a habit of saving money.
“The KFC Foundation offers charitable assistance programs for eligible KFC restaurant employees to help them earn their GED, go to college, make it through a hardship or crisis and build their financial knowledge,” says Emma Horn, Managing Director of the KFC Foundation. “We created this program to equip KFC restaurant employees with valuable financial skills to create lasting savings behaviors.”
There is perhaps no better time for a program stressing the importance of personal savings than during a pandemic. But even in 2019, 37 percent of all Americans could not cover an unexpected $400 expense without going into debt, according to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank.
“Having an emergency fund has always been important and valuable,” Horn says. “The uncertainty that came with the pandemic emphasized the need to help equip KFC restaurant employees with resources that would help them grow their financial knowledge, build a habit of saving money, and create a short-term emergency savings fund.”
The program was piloted last year with the knowledge emergency funds can keep families afloat and avoid debt in the case of emergencies like urgent car or home repairs. In a study sponsored by the FINRA Foundation, SaverLife found savings balances above just $250 were connected with increased housing security, ability to pay utility bills and avoiding high-cost borrowing.
“Programs like MyChange with SaverLife help us develop the financial acumen of our team members, setting them up for success in their future, while also strengthening our organization from the ground up,” says Justin Stewart, KFC franchisee and board chair of the KFC Foundation.
Employees who use the MyChange with SaverLife program receive access to the SaverLife platform and the opportunity to participate in national savings challenges, read financial education articles, engage in forums and gain points for chances to win prizes.
Employees will be able to participate in Savings Match Challenges funded by the KFC Foundation and receive a $20 sign-up bonus. By saving at least $10 a month, employees will gain a $1 for $1 match of up to $40 per month over a six-month period. This enables KFC employees to create a $500 short-term emergency savings fund.
“By helping KFC team members build up an emergency savings fund, we’re helping them improve their overall well-being and build resilience to face future financial challenges,” Horn says. “This program is a way to empower and equip restaurant employees with tools and resources to help them succeed and achieve their goals.”
Eating and drinking places remain 1.5 million jobs (12 percent) short, according to the Bureau of Labor in June. With such stark labor conditions, the KFC Foundation, primarily funded by KFC franchisees, believes this resource, like others, can usher in and retain employees.
“The KFC Foundation’s charitable assistance programs are great resources for eligible KFC restaurant employees and help KFC franchisees attract and retain top talent in their restaurants,” Horn says. “We hear time and again how grateful and proud KFC restaurant employees are to work somewhere that these types of opportunities are available.”