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How Chick-fil-A’s HR policy led to its financial success


Chick-fil-A, an American fast-food restaurant chain notorious for its anti same sex marriage stance in 2012, is on its way to become the largest fast-food chain in the US. QSR magazine recently ranked it eighth in the top 50 fast-food restaurants in the US.

Business Insider pinpointed its success of being the most profitable fast-food chain in the US on a per-location basis to its peerless customer service, while Chick-fil-A dedicated its triumph to its heavy investment in its employees.

In terms of salary, Chick-fil-A pays about US$8.44 an hour, slightly higher than the average hourly wage US$7.98 in the fast-food industry. Hence, it is the employee-centric policies that make it stand out in a sea of fast-food restaurants.

Sundays have been off for all employees since the company’s establishment. Samuel Truett Cathy, founder of Chick-fil-A, learnt from his days in restaurants which open 24 hours seven days a week, and decided his employees should set aside one day to rest and worship.

Franchisees are encouraged to ask their new hires about their career goals and help them advance their career regardless of the industry. Questions such as, “Do you know the dreams of your team?” are frequently asked at company conventions.

Kevin Moss, a Chick-fil-A manager, supports his team by funding employees’ marketing degrees and photography classes, and sending food to an employee’s family and hospital staff if an employee’s family member is hospitalised.

Another manager, Jamie Ochsner, gives employees, who enrolled in high school or college, bonuses of up to US$250 per semester for every A or B grade they get.

“I’ve found people are more motivated and respond better when you care about them,” Moss said.

Chick-fil-A also offers leadership positions in all of its restaurants. Any employee can work their way towards senior positions in marketing, cleanliness, kitchen operations or the drive-through operations.

Training classes are offered to employees to earn certificates in a wide variety of areas of expertise such as managing food and labour costs and managing conflict in restaurants.

“The better we train, the longer people stay with us,” Moss said.

Added Mark Cohen, professor at Columbia Business School and the former CEO of Sears Canada: “Your employees are your ambassadors to the public.”

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