Why Pizza Hut places its employees in the spotlight

Valuing staff and offering room to grow are important at this well-loved restaurant chain.

Defying all odds, Pizza Hut Sri Lanka thrived during the COVID-19 lockdown. Kaushal Mendis, Director – Human Resources, shared a full account on the work behind this operation and insights into why Gamma Pizza Pvt Ltd is the ideal place to work for a millennial.

What makes Pizza Hut attractive to millennials hunting for employers who place importance on their needs, values, and lifestyle choices? Millennials value lifestyle experiences over material things. As an employer, Pizza Hut has successfully established the brand in the minds of the potential millennial employee pool as the place to work at. To create this pitch, we are focusing on 5 key elements:

SHARED MISSION.

This provides a sense of purpose and achievement and shows employees the bigger picture or greater cause, which soon becomes everyone’s top priority.

PEOPLE VALUES.

To achieve a shared mission, the community must follow certain guidelines that help propel everyone forward. Our people values reflect these guidelines and help teams across the world delight our customers, become their best selves, make friends and have fun!

TRUST.

We create a general sense of trust through welfare initiatives, growth opportunities, and a culture where we reward and recognize talent and commitment. These actions address employees’ biggest needs, and when delivered, invoke intrinsic motivation.

RECOGNITION.

Success breeds success, and any desired behaviour, when recognized publicly, becomes the foundation needed to build a community of dedicated and engaged employees. We have developed recognition programs at multiple levels which resonate with employees.

PLAY.

Just like in a family, having moments of play evokes positive emotions, leading to more engaged teams. Stress can bring about employee turnover and lower morale, so a routine with fun incorporated is a primary aim, and helps deal with work pressure and allows staff to form powerful bonds.

Globally, millennials care most about specific areas at work. How does Pizza Hut deal with these needs?

Staff have the flexibility to choose their work rosters to ensure a good work-life balance regularly. Education, too, is important.

We have partnered with the Vocational Training Authority of Sri Lanka, where we have designed a nationally recognized programme where our trainees can obtain National Vocational Qualification (NVQ) level 4 certification if they successfully complete the course. During the lockdown, we did a lot to help our customers and communities.

We went to the laboratories where they did PCR tests, hospitals and quarantine centres, and presented them with pizzas as a gesture of appreciation for the national service they were rendering. Beyond a job, we showed our staff where their contributions matter and gave them purpose.

Sustainability is an important aspect of what we do. We are working on two key projects: minimizing the use of plastic and the conservation of energy. We reward staff who come up with ideas by distributing 10% of the annual savings among the project team. Two years ago, we pledged ourselves to drive the inclusivity agenda as part of our corporate social responsibility. We started hiring people with disabilities, and this has proven to be successful. We have the first Pizza Hut store in the world run by people with disabilities! Once these team members finish their training, we transfer them to general outlets.

How has the company benefited by creating a workplace that’s attractive to millennials?

Our efforts have given us a competitive edge over the other brands as the most trusted restaurant brand. As an organization, we’ve provided a framework with a variety of factors such as competitive pay, flexible hours, a cool brand, effective managers and more.

This has enabled employees to give all our guests an unforgettable experience when they visit us. Our employees have given their unconditional commitment, even during challenging times. These high-performing employees drive with intrinsic motivation, a feeling of personal responsibility which creates more meaningful customer service.

How do you align the goals of the organisation with employee expectations? And how do you keep millennials motivated?

Millennials are very agile and resilient, and they learn and recalibrate quickly. As such, we’ve adopted a similar approach to aligning our management methods. We operate with recognition as a key driver to reinforce positive behaviours. We are constantly changing our communication approach with staff, moving away from traditional bureaucratic communications to simple digital interactions.

Learning, too, has become digital. We’ve gamified all training courses now, which is more appealing to millennials. And we involve them in the decision-making process by seeking their suggestions. We believe that knowing a future in the company is possible is a strong intrinsic motivator. Hence, we provide them with continuous career growth and facilitate ongoing development for them to foster that motivation within. Empowered employees result in motivated and engaged team members. We’ve realized that a sense of autonomy and ownership helps them.

So, we give them the freedom to be creative and collaborate. We also allow for experimentation and failure. Rather than telling them what to do, we make them understand why they need to do things, so their work becomes more meaningful.