The KFC Foundation, the charitable arm of the fast food chain, is providing a new benefit for employees of both corporate-owned and franchised KFC restaurants in the US: personal finance coaching. According to a press release from the foundation, the MyChange program, offered in partnership with the mobile financial planning service company Sum180, “fosters personalized financial wellness and teaches foundational personal finance skills” to employees, combining a confidential financial wellness app with a personal adviser who can help them budget, plan, and learn more about how to manage their personal finances.
The MyChange program comes in addition to several other educational benefits KFC offers its US employees through the foundation:
MyChange joins several other KFC Foundation offerings, including Rise with GEDworks (personalized high school credential assistance), the KFC Family Fund (hardship and crisis assistance), and the REACH Educational Grant Program (college tuition assistance at $2,000, $2,500 and $3,000 award levels), rounding out the employee assistance organization to support the whole wellbeing of KFC’s restaurant employees.
Krista Snider, managing director of the KFC Foundation, tells Amanda Eisenberg at Employee Benefit News more about how the program came to life:
The program, MyChange, stemmed from the foundation’s hardship and crisis assistance program, which launched in 2015. Administrators there saw that many employees were in tough financial situations.
“We started seeing a lot of applications from employees that were not triggered by an outside event or something externally outside of their control,” Snider says. “We were getting applications from employees in really tough situations because they made uninformed financial decisions over the course of months or years that got them into this spot.” For example, KFC employees took on car loans with 20% to 25% interest rates or signed leases for apartments that they couldn’t sustain in the long term, Snider says.
As the US labor market has tightened, the past year has seen employers in the fast food industry, a traditionally high-turnover business, think more about how to retain and develop their entry-level employees. One of the most valuable benefits for fast food employees, who often have not completed high school or attended college, is help in furthering their education. Just in the past month, Taco Bell has announced the broad roll-out of an education benefit after a successful pilot project and McDonald’s has substantially expanded its employee education assistance program.
KFC’s new program also reflects the growing focus among employers on financial wellbeing as part of a holistic wellbeing program that also includes physical, mental, and emotional health. Particularly among low-income employees, financial stressors can be a major source of anxiety, so helping them better manage their finances is a way for employers to help improve their quality of life as well as the quality of their work. Most employees in low-skill roles don’t enjoy financial planning benefits, however: Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that just one in five Americans had access to these benefits last year, mostly high-earning employees, employees of larger organizations, and those in certain skilled professions.