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Fast-Food Chains Enrich Their Education and Financial Wellness Benefits

Companies are investing in a brighter future for low-wage workers

A woman in an apron is holding a sandwich out of a window.

KFC, Taco Bell and McDonald's are among the fast-food chains that recently announced new or enhanced benefits to help employees, many of whom are hourly low-wage earners, to continue their educations and manage their finances. While both KFC and Taco Bell are owned by Yum!, their employee benefit packages are handled separately. 

Below are highlights of the media's coverage of how fast-food brands are investing in their workers' well-being.

KFC Cooks Up New Personal Finance Program for Workers

The KFC Foundation, a nonprofit funded by KFC franchisees, is launching a personal finance education benefit for all employees at participating KFC U.S. restaurants. Offered in partnership with mobile financial wellness service Sum180, the MyChange program teaches personal finance skills to KFC's restaurant employees who choose to enroll in the program.

The benefit provides a confidential financial wellness app with budgeting and planning tools, access to financial advisers for personal coaching, and an online community for peer support.

KFC also offers several education-support benefits, including Rise with GEDworks (personalized high school credential assistance), the KFC Family Fund (hardship loans) and the REACH Educational Grant Program (college tuition assistance at $2,000, $2,5000, and $3,000 annual award levels).
(QSR Magazine)

McDonald's Supersizes Its College Tuition Benefits

McDonald Corp. is raising the amount of tuition assistance it gives eligible salaried employees to $2,500 per year, up from $700 per year. Managers will have access to $3,000 annually for education, up from $1,050. The chain is also lowering the eligibility requirement for tuition assistance to 90 days of employment, down from nine months. Employees who want tuition assistance will only need to put in 15 hours minimum a week instead of the previous requirement of 20 hours a week.

McDonald's say it expects 400,000 employees to take advantage of the newly enhanced tuition assistance program.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Designing and Managing Educational Assistance Programs]

Taco Bell Rings in New Tuition-Assistance Program

Taco Bell is partnering with online platform Guild Education to provide education support for corporate and franchise employees. Some 210,000 Taco Bell workers at its 7,000 U.S. restaurants will receive access to Guild's academic and financial aid coaches and discounts to Guild's education partners—a network of 80 online nonprofit universities and learning providers, offering bachelor's and master's degrees, along with programs such as high school completion and English as a second language, and a wide selection of certificates.

Corporate employees and employees of participating franchises also will have access to up to $5,250 per year in tuition assistance, including books and supplies, paid up front. Additionally, all employees can receive college credit for on-the-job restaurant training, which could save an employee up to an additional $5,000.
(Grub Street)

Tuition Assistance Makes the Grade at Chipotle

Chipotle employees can receive up to $15,400 worth of college credit for training on such skills as learning to manage a supply chain and handling profit-and-loss statements. An employee who becomes a general manager will have earned up to 44 credits—more than one-third of the college credits required for a degree.

Earning college credit is not limited to managers. Crew members, for example, receive nine credit hours for training. Participants are twice as likely as nonparticipants to be promoted at Chipotle.
(SHRM Online)

Improving Financial Health Boosts Productivity

Most people have little to no access to formal financial education in their communities, which leaves employers as the best, and often only, candidate to fill this gap. "If employers don't help their employees to deal with this, no one else will," said Meghan Murphy, a director with Fidelity Investments in Boston.

A study of 1,600 workers conducted last year by consultancy PwC found that nearly half of employees who are worried about their financial health miss work occasionally and are less productive when they are at work, spending at least three hours of work time dealing with personal financial issues.
(SHRM Online)

Time to Increase Your Education Assistance Benefit?

Having an education benefit not only benefits employees, but also can be correlated directly to a company's bottom line improvements. Companies are finding that the return on investment from an education assistance program can pay for the program itself. Cigna, for example, found that for every dollar it spent on its educational reimbursement program, it got back $1 and saved another $1.29 through reduced employee turnover and lower recruiting costs.
(The SHRM Blog)

SHRM Supports Expanding Section 127 Assistance

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) supports bipartisan proposals to expand nontaxable employer-provided educational assistance under Section 127 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Employer Participation in Student Loan Assistance Act would expand Section 127 to include student loan repayment, and the Upward Mobility Enhancement Act would expand the benefit amount excludable from taxable income under Section 127 to $11,500 per calendar year, up from the current $5,250.
(SHRM's 2018 Guide to Public Policy Issues)

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