Adding a bigger meaning to restaurant biz
Adding a bigger meaning to restaurant biz

The untapped labor force

It might happen that the next time when you are out on coffee break at your nearest Costa Coffee or CCD outlet, the person who comes to you to take the order carries a note ‘I am hearing impaired’ please jot down your order.

CSR boosts hospitality industry in India and to do their bit for the society, these brands are recruiting physically challenged people for various operations. From managing an outlet to taking the orders, welcoming the guest and handling the back-end at the operations front, they have helped the sector grow.

“Their growth looks extremely promising. Our recent achievement in this regard has been recruiting the six speech and hearing impaired shift managers who successfully cleared our internal process to rise through the ranks,” shared Rahul Shinde, GM, KFC India which has been titled with National Award for the Empowerment of Persons with Dissabilities-2014 by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Department of Disability Affairs, Government of India.

Making the work-force ready

Getting a skilled work force in any organisation often meet with several challenges and to mitigate this challenge, often training to hone the skill is required. Training is also important to get ready the differently-able task force. And hospitality majors like Lemon Tree, KFC, Costa Coffee arrange trainings programmes for this group of people performed by NGOs/training company through which they source them in subjects related to soft skills and life skills and others.

According to experts, these training modules generally run from 1-3 months and in some cases uptill 1 year too. Players like Marriott recruits mentally challenged and dyslexic pass outs from a special school 'Dilkhush' in Mumbai.

“We believe that persons with disabilities (which can be physical, social or economic disabilities leading to an opportunity deprivation) must be provided the same opportunities as others to realise their full potential and live with dignity,” said Aradhana Lal, VP- Sustainability Initiatives, Lemon Tree Hotels.

Likewise, KFC has a detailed orientation program for hearing and speech impaired and other employees; and also use various visual training aids and technology. They work closely with NGO’s like DEF Hyderabad & VRC Hyderabad, Silence Kolkata, Traain Mumbai in their respective cities to build up this noble cause.

“We have a robust training procedure in place where we have our own training facility with translators who explain everything to the employees simultaneously in sign language,” pointed Ashish Chanana, COO, Costa Coffee India.

Sound business sense

According to a research, there are several benefits of hiring disable people as they bring higher retention rate and greater value in certain roles and these employees are more loyal to an organisation compared to a normal employee.

Likewise, there are many instances where special employees have moved up the success ladder fast and some have quickly become shift managers and also assistant managers at some of the fast food chains. “We encourage them to aspire for the highest level and they get as much as possible opportunity to move ahead as any other employee in our merit based system, “shared Shinde.

And, as they offer the same business to other fellow team members, the salary and benefits are the same as employees without disabilities and works on the same shift as them. Researches also show that, companies experience an average of 50 per cent turnover every four years, according to a compilation of facts about Training, Work and Jobs by SAGE Learning. And it costs a company 30-50 per cent of the annual salary of entry-level employees, 150 per cent of middle level employees, and up to 400 percent for specialised high level employees to find their replacements.

It makes good business sense to keep competent workers instead of having to replace them all the time. Hiring people with disabilities is a good solution for high turnover rates.

While it may be a great CSR initiative, it also offers the industry, which is facing talent crunch and high attrition rate, an alternate talent pool in their businesses. And with infrastructure for physically challenged mandated by the government for all three, four and five star hotels, it becomes easier to employ such people.

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