When we think about the service industry, our first thoughts tend to gravitate toward creating an outstanding customer experience, having consistent processes, and putting the consumer first. However, the concept of serving the employees in the workforce often comes second. In a recent article on RestaurantNews.com, Ed Brett, Chief People Officer at Church's Chicken, addresses the importance of "service" at the most fundamental level " with the employees in your own organization.

In his piece, Ed reflects on the quick-service restaurant's need to provide real opportunities to their frontline employees, beyond a job and a salary. They sought a way to help team members "grow personally and professionally, and enjoy benefits such as financial stability and security."1 In Spring 2015, this search led Church's Chicken to Penn Foster and the creation of Stride for Success, a program offering Church's shift leaders the opportunity to earn their high school diploma from Penn Foster High School. Since Stride for Success launched about a year ago, 27 shift leaders have been working toward completing their high school educations with 6 having already graduated from the program.2 Upon graduation, employees immediately meet one of the requirements for promotion to manager, which includes an increase in pay and additional opportunities for advancement.

"Serve Yourself First" is a phrase that sums up our approach to education and its impact on company morale. - Ed Brett

By making education a core pillar to the Church's employee value proposition, Ed has been able to "serve up access" and "remove barriers" for employees seeking long-term opportunity, in turn energizing the entire Church's workforce.3 The Church's Scholars program provides yet another example of the company's dedication to education; in 2016, 225 students will be awarded $1000 each to apply towards college expenses. For those that previously struggled to pursue education due to finances, Church's strives to remove at least some of the financial barrier and open doors for advancement.

Earlier this year, our team ventured down to Atlanta, GA to celebrate the first three graduates from the Stride for Success program. To see highlights from the graduation and hear from both Church's executives and the graduates themselves, click below for a free download of the video:

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Resources: RestaurantNews: Church's Chicken Encourages Team to Serve Yourselves First (1, 2, 3)