Will Foster Creates the Sweetest Rewards Around

For Will Foster, being a part-time or full-time employee at Krispy Kreme doesn’t dictate one’s commitment to their work. So, he’s creating benefits offerings to reflect that.

Traditionally, part-time employees aren’t able to access the same benefits and rewards as full-time employees—especially in a retail environment. This type of exclusion can lead to higher turnover rates and a decrease in ROI for companies. Will Foster, head of total rewards for doughnut maker Krispy Kreme, recognizes this potential threat to retaining talent and is using his position to help sweeten the rewards for both part- and full-time Krispy Kremers.

At a high level, Foster is responsible for all things compensation and benefits-related, but he has also taken a special interest in the HR operations side of Krispy Kreme. Foster is part of a small team. With just one other professional to tackle their day-to-day HR objectives, his task list is constantly full. But his prior experiences, and his favorite coffee mug emblazoned with the adage “get shit done,” help him keep his forward momentum.

After graduating from college, Foster joined Lowe’s in an HR generalist role. “I did a little bit of everything,” he says. “From recruiting to payroll and performance management, I did it all. And what I found was that I really liked the payroll and compensation side of things.” From there, Foster landed a role within the compensation department in Lowe’s corporate offices. “Believe it or not, I was doing the work of two people, but I think that’s what reinforced my drive to really ‘get shit done,’” he says with a laugh.

After his time with Lowe’s, Foster held several other compensation and rewards roles, and he believes the cross-utility skill set that he developed throughout these roles is what ultimately landed him at Krispy Kreme less than two years ago. Since arriving at Krispy Kreme, Foster has had his work cut out for him. “We have to build up, and it is very difficult to build things in an eighty-three-year-old company. It’s one of the hardest things I have ever had to do,” he admits. But, building out a rewards scheme that truly reflects the needs of Krispy Kreme’s employees is, according to Foster, absolutely vital to the business at large.

“Really where it started is from convincing people that someone’s status as part-time has no bearing on their commitment to Krispy Kreme.”

“We are looking at what we can do to implement a global agenda as well as how we can philosophically align a framework of the things that we value at Krispy Kreme. That looks like big things like maternity leave, down to the little things like the day off on your birthday,” Foster says. He wants to focus on revamping current benefits for employees, as well. “We have to take a look at things like health insurance and see if we can make it free for our employees.

“Education is another one. We have tuition reimbursement programs, and we are looking at enhancing that or even introducing student loan repayments,” he explains. “We want our part-time employees to be able to participate in these benefits and perks, too.”

But to make benefits widely available to all employees, Foster has had to come a long way. “When I joined Krispy Kreme, part-time employees had zero benefits,” he explains, “and really where it started is from convincing people that someone’s status as part-time has no bearing on their commitment to Krispy Kreme. We’re starting to think about leveling the playing field is by creating benefits and rewards that are tailored to our part-time employees’ needs.” This looks like offering medical plans that are more employee specific than a major, full-access plan, access to life insurance, or the ability to collect a Roth IRA match.

Foster believes that inclusion for the part-time employees and reinforcing a sense of ownership for all employees rather than just the corporate roles is what will allow Krispy Kreme to keep moving forward. “We want to create an ownership mentality at all levels of the company rather than just at the top of the house,” he says. “We are looking at how incentives can both create ownership and be deeply ingrained within the company.”

Right now, to gauge employee satisfaction, Krispy Kreme holds an annual survey, but Foster and his team are partnering with an HR communications company to design “personas” for Krispy Kremers. “These are designed to help us know who our employees are and what they need in their day-to-day lives,” he says. In addition to getting to know employees on an individual level, these “personas” can inform his team’s future decisions regarding benefits and offerings. The communication effort will hopefully yield good insight on how Foster and his team can prioritize the rewards and benefits scheme for part- and full-time employees alike.

While all of this comes with its challenges, Foster has a positive outlook on the work cut out for him. “It’s all really fun because it’s all brand new,” he says. “It’s not like we are a company who has had years to focus on this and crack the nut. We are trying to write the code for how we want Krispy Kreme to look in the future.”