In an exclusive chat with Restaurant India, Ashish Chanana, Chief Operating Officer, Costa Coffee, India, tells about the hiring of special people at their outlets.
Please tell us about the training program which Costa provide to differently-abled people?
We invest in rigorous training for our specially-abled employees to ensure smooth operations and also to ensure there is no compromise on service to our customers. In a customer front ended business such as ours, training is of paramount importance. Training of not just the Special People, but the rest of the store staff and managers to understand and manage these people effectively. Today, every Red Shirt (store leader) in Costa has to necessarily go through an intensive education and understanding of sign language before he or she is given responsibility of managing a store.
What is the procedure of getting them ready?
We have a special induction & training programme for special CSA's. The three day induction for them is done with the help of sign language interpreter. Later all of them are trained in outlets having trained special staff. Old employees become the buddy trainer of new joinees.
Also, for our existing normal employees, we conduct sign language workshops twice a month so that they can work comfortably with special employees.
What is the salary offered to them? Is it the same as others?
Indeed. We do not believe in discrimination of any kind.
What are some of the morale boosting measures at workplace so that they do not feel inferior?
We ensure that our regular employees are suitably coached and motivated on dealing with our special employees. Also, our customers have played a big role in motivating them with the encouragement offered and loyalty above all- many of our regular customers insist on being served only by our committed special employees!
How does Costa do the morale boosting of its differently-abled employee?
We connect with our special employees at a deeper level, where our senior management all the way up to the CEO, take time out to spend with them and motivate them. We are sensitive and aware of their needs at all times and have in place systems that ensure that our special employees are well protected at work and constantly motivated.
What is the hiring process?
We are closely associated with NGO’s in this space (working with hearing impaired) and help in training/skilling them and then employing them across our outlets.
How many differently-abled employees are working with Costa Coffee?
Currently around 11% of our total store employees base across outlets is differently-abled. Our aim going forward is that every Costa store must have at least 2 differently-abled employees. We have a very unique store at Green Park which is run almost entirely by special employees (with exception of store Manager). It is the only coffee shop in India which is run entirely by special employees.
How does their growth look like?
We have had many instances where our special employees have moved up the chain fast and some have quickly become shift managers and also Assistant Managers of outlets. We encourage them to aspire for the highest and they have as much an opportunity to move ahead as any other employee in our merit based system.