Ketchum Pleon Change, (KPC), formally Stromberg Consulting, a division of Ketchum Pleon, specialises in employee engagement, internal communications and change management. KPC began working with KFC in late 2008 to help them effectively motivate and engage employees, to retain and attract high-calibre talent and promote KFC as an Employer of Choice. KFC is a geographically dispersed, complex organisation, with a wide range of people and communication challenges. It has almost 800 restaurants in the UK and Ireland, with over 60% of restaurants owned by franchisees.
KPC helped KFC engage employees by identifying what people loved about working at KFC through a process of immersing ourselves in the business. We translated our findings into a clearly articulated ‘Employment Value Proposition’ (EVP). The messages KPC developed had such impact on senior management that they are now being used to inform and improve KFC’s induction, development and reward strategies. 
We brought the EVP to life by taking advantage of KFC’s iconic ‘secret recipe’, creating the tagline “The Secret is You”. This creatively communicated the fact that employees felt it was the people and culture which make KFC so successful. This tagline has since been used internally and externally, most visibly on KFC’s new careers website (launched early 2009), which has so far seen over 135,000 applications. We are now working with KFC to launch the next phase of the project, based around the tagline “The Secret is Out”.
1.       Attract and retain high-calibre talent through the development and communication of a strong employer brand and employment value proposition (EVP). This talent will deliver excellent customer service by living the brand and displaying high levels of engagement and loyalty, leading to higher performance levels and lower turnover for KFC
2.       Promote KFC as an Employer of Choice. Getting recognition for KFC as a great place to work positively impacts KFC’s corporate & consumer brands as well as generating considerable pride within the business
The following represent the principles we followed when working with KFC:
·         Took time to really understand the business – we immersed ourselves for several months and spoke to people from every part of the business to ensure we really understood things from their perspective
·         Involved all key stakeholders from the outset – we knew that if the EVP was going to penetrate the business, it had to be developed in collaboration with a representative cross-section of stakeholders, including the senior management team, the marketing function, communications and HR
·         Built on what was already great – it was never our intention to throw out KFC’s existing values – the aim was to build on and align to these and to discover what people already loved about working for the brand and communicate this at every key employee interaction
·         Realised we could not and should not try to be all things to all people –an EVP aims to communicate a ‘signature offering’ – we had to be selective, specific and genuine about what made KFC stand out as an employer
PHASE 1 – IMMERSION: our approach was to immerse ourselves in KFC’s business by actually living the employee experience. This included attending a restaurant induction, working in a KFC restaurant and spending considerable time at KFC’s Restaurant Support Centre. This was supported by more traditional research techniques, including desk research, focus groups, interviews and surveys across a representative sample of the business, including franchisees
PHASE 2 – DATA ANALYSIS & PRESENTATION: the data gathered was sorted into categories and analysed against the different stages of the employee lifecycle. We also developed practical and prioritised recommendations with input From the senior management team, HR, employees and franchisee representatives that built on existing KFC values
PHASE 3 – MESSAGE REFINEMENT: our findings were then refined through workshops which we facilitated and distilled into key messages about what makes KFC unique; these were focused around five areas: people, culture, development, reward and recognition and flexibility
PHASE 4 – BRANDING & CREATIVE: to brand the KFC EVP we played on KFC’s iconic “secret recipe” and created the tagline “The Secret is You”, which communicated the fact that employees felt it was the people and culture at KFC which make the business so successful. This tagline has been used on KFC’s new careers website
PHASE 5 – SPIN OFF PROJECTS: we are also involvedin supporting KFC through several spin-off initiatives coming out of our initial recommendations. These include:
  • Auditing KFC’s communications systems to come up with consistent processes and mechanisms which reach all audiences effectively
  • Developing an intranet to improve communication with a dispersed employee base
  • Implementing a more consistent induction experience for new starters
  • Communicating effectively around benefits and rewards available to staff
1.       Attract and retain high-calibre talent through the development and communication of a strong EVP thus raising performance and lowering turnover
·         Improved recruitment and induction processes led to significant reduction in turnover, including a 28% reduction at team member level
·         Greater staff engagement and stability drove same store sales growth of 10% in 2009, making it KFC’s most successful year ever despite economic pressures
·         EVP-branded careers website received over 135,000 applications helping KFC save over 90% of its recruitment marketing budget, enabling KFC to draw from a wider talent pool and screen applicants efficiently thus saving managers on average 24 minutes per applicant
·         Employee surveys from late 2009 show better scores than the previous year for questions measuring pride in KFC as a place to work. Response rates to surveys also up in 2009 to over 90%.
2.       Promote KFC as an Employer of Choice
·         Received accreditation as one of Britain’s Top Employers for 2010 (
·         Entered for Great Place To Work Institute accreditation ( – whether KFC has made the ‘Top 50 Workplaces’ list is not yet known, but KFC scored well in all areas in the GPTW employee surveY
·         Secured “Be a high fryer” feature in The Sun which profiled several KFC employees, as well as articles in People Management and HR Online
·         Pitched and arranged for HR Director, Misty Reich to speak at the HR Business Directors conference and CIPD conference