A $500 Step Towards Financial Wellness
This week, the KFC Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) independent non-profit organization funded primarily by KFC franchisees, launched an innovative emergency savings program for KFC employees; In its objectives and approach, the program reflects some of the broader financial trends that are changing the landscape of employee benefits.
The savings program was created in partnership with SaverLife, a national not-for-profit fintech company that helps working families generate wealth through modest but regular savings. The program is formally known as MyChange with SaverLife. It was piloted with a few KFC employees last year, according to the company, and is now rolling out nationwide.
While there are other goals, MyChange is primarily geared towards helping KFC team members build short-term savings of at least $ 500 while promoting persistent positive savings behavior.
“Being able to offer these kinds of resources means a lot,” said Justin Stewart, a KFC franchisee and chairman of the KFC Foundation. “Programs like MyChange with SaverLife help us develop the financial acumen of our team members, make them successful for their future and at the same time strengthen our organization from the ground up.”
The program’s approach is relatively straightforward and relies on scalable technology and gamification to encourage participation. Eligible KFC corporate and franchisee restaurant employees who sign up and take part in the Savings Match Challenge will receive a sign-up bonus ranging from $ 20 to $ 40 per month over a six-month period. The goal is to get workers to create a short-term emergency savings fund of $ 500 – or add $ 500 to their current savings.
In an email to PLANADVISER, Emma Horn, Managing Director of the KFC Foundation, said it was not difficult to reach a consensus on the KFC Foundation’s board of directors about the importance of this program.
“The heart of what the KFC Foundation does is care for the staff at KFC restaurants in the United States,” wrote Horn. “It has always been important and valuable to have an emergency fund. The uncertainty that accompanied the pandemic underscored the need to create a program like MyChange with Saverlife to provide KFC restaurant staff with resources to help them expand their financial literacy, save money and create emergency short-term savings Fund. “
As Horn explained, the program is seen as a complement to other existing programs.
“The KFC Foundation offers charitable programs to eligible KFC restaurant employees to help them earn their GED, go to college, weather an emergency or crisis, and build their financial literacy,” she said. “We started this program to equip the employees of KFC restaurants with valuable financial knowledge in order to achieve sustainable savings behavior. The programs we offer to KFC restaurant employees, made possible by the support of our franchisees, show them that we care about their personal development and wellbeing, which leads to a stronger organization. “
When asked if she expected many of KFC’s colleagues in the restaurant industry to move in a similar direction, Horn hesitated to make any concrete predictions. However, she noted that the program has already had a strong positive response from KFC employees.
“While we cannot speak to our colleagues, the KFC Foundation’s charity programs are a great resource for eligible KFC restaurant employees and help KFC franchisees attract and retain top talent in their restaurants,” said Horn. “We keep hearing how grateful and proud the KFC restaurant staff are to work in a place where such opportunities exist.”
Considering the progress her nonprofit has made since its inception 20 years ago, SaverLife’s vice president of marketing, Neha Gupta, tells PLANADVISER that the organization provided one-on-one, one-on-one financial coaching to those in need early on. SaverLife started six years ago with a technology-driven approach that aimed to provide substantial amounts of financial wellness coaching and simple, playful savings tools.
“We’re trying to anchor people around the $ 500 emergency savings figure because that’s roughly the cost of one unexpected financial challenge – a tire change or a new piece of equipment,” says Gupta. “Of course, getting people up to $ 1,000 or more is better, but we have to be realistic about lower-income workers with minimum wages. Many of the people we work with start from paycheck to paycheck from one place of residence. “
Gupta says she has high hopes for partnering with the KFC Foundation, citing the success of working with national clothing retailer Levi through its Red Tab Foundation.
“These corporate charitable foundations can support people in ways that internal HR departments cannot,” she explains. “In the past, such foundations concentrated on granting cash grants or emergency loans. In addition to the broader focus on promoting financial well-being, these organizations are increasingly promoting self-help, for example through appropriate savings contributions. We know from the 401 (k) world how important matching and messaging are. “
Gupta says one lesson her company has learned since adopting the digital approach is the importance of nurturing engagement – and not just when launching a new austerity program.
“To that end, we worked really hard to improve the gamification aspect, such as launching store-versus-store participation competitions,” she says. “One of the most interesting things that we’ve realized is the power to offer even simple prizes or incentives. You can inspire people to sign up and save more by simply giving away some nice socks. In fact, for whatever reason, a very popular strategy is to give away a nice pair of branded socks to those who sign up. ”
Gupta agrees that companies like SaverLife and the KFC Foundation, working together, can have a direct positive impact on people’s financial lives. However, she warns that the lack of broad-based financial health in the US is a systemic and damaging problem that requires a societal approach to redress.
“A big part of what we’re thinking about right now is how we can make a positive impact on a systemic level,” says Gupta. “We are looking for ways to work with policymakers and communities to provide the financial support they need for millions of people. For example, we are very happy about the new child discount and are big supporters of such a policy. We’re trying to make sure our members are aware of this new credit and the steps they need to take to receive it. ”