A good employer brand articulates the essence of a company in a specific way that engages existing employees and attracts potential talent. Once an employer brand is established, the company must translate its promises into practice so as to further enunciate corporate values, achieve organisational goals and subsequently meet business objectives.
One company that has taken this pragmatic approach in identifying people development as a key employer brand promise is Pizza Hut, the world's largest pizza restaurant chain.
People development has always been a key element in Pizza Hut's brand as a preferred employer. In particular, its six-month manager trainee programme that specialises in restaurant operations at Pizza Hut provides a career path for recruits to be ultimately promoted to the management level. Its mission is to "build people's capability to run great restaurants". During the programme, trainees go though intensive classroom training conducted by in-house training specialists and in-service restaurant managers. In-store training is also in place, giving trainees the opportunities to try out various positions in a Pizza Hut restaurant.
Tony Tse, senior operations manager, Pizza Hut Hong Kong Management Ltd notes, "Our restaurant managers possess the know-how in running a Pizza Hut restaurant. They are able to bring real life examples into the role-plays, increasing the relevance and impact of teaching. Further, they can better convey the culture of our company than someone who has never worked for Pizza Hut. Our culture reflects our values, beliefs and attitudes. It is the soul of our company and it influences employees' behaviour. Not only do we want to help trainees adapt to the work environment, we also want them to feel they are part of the family so that they can develop a sense of belonging."
Trainees benefit from the hands-on experience gained in the micro-environment in stores dealing with customers and staff. They have to pass a series of assessments before they can graduate from the programme and they learn what it takes to operate a restaurant successfully. "After that, the recruits follow a clear career path, which leads to regional managerial positions," Mr Tse adds.
Responsibilities involved along the career path for a manager trainee include leading a shift, leading a restaurant, leading multiple restaurants and subsequently leading a district. Promotion at Pizza Hut is systematic in that prerequisites regarding training hours are laid down and there are assessments along the way. "The whole idea is people development," Mr Tse says. "We hope our staff will grow with us, and that's why we put so much emphasis on training."
Coaching forms part of the learning culture at Pizza Hut and the company stresses team rather than individual success. The company's management believes that long-term capabilities can be built through coaching. Pizza Hut organises many training events aiming at teaching staff at managerial level, coaching and communication skills. "Coaching is a major task, especially when a manager is given the opportunity to lead multiple restaurants. Knowledge and experience is shared and employee behaviour is influenced through coaching," Mr Tse adds.
The minimum qualification required for joining the manager trainee programme in restaurant operations is having finished a Form Five education, plus at least two years' restaurant management experience, though the majority of recruits possess higher diplomas or degrees. "Qualifications are not the most important factor in running a restaurant successfully," Mr Tse explains. "While a background in hotel and catering gives one an advantage, we also welcome graduates from other disciplines because comprehensive training is available here. The personal qualities that can help you excel are charisma, a positive mindset and a high EQ."
Overseas training opportunities are ample at Pizza Hut as the company organises regular seminars and workshops that bring together Pizza Hut staff from different corners of the world to share best practices and be informed of the company's latest developments.
Mr Tse himself joined Pizza Hut in 1992 as a manager trainee specialising in restaurant operations. "Thanks to all the training and opportunities for personal growth offered by the company, I have worked my way up to my current position," he says.
Today, Mr Tse's job involves strategic decision making and he is always attending different meetings and visiting shops to ensure that everything is running smoothly. "I mainly work with operation managers and area coaches who look after the restaurants. People management is now my major duty," he says, adding that a management trainee programme in general business administration is also available to aspirants who possess a recognised degree and passion for the job. "The programme comprises job rotation within the various support functions of the company. As far as demand is concerned, we need many capable restaurant operators as we continue to expand in the near future."