Franchise HR Roundtable
Published January 31, 2024

What Keeps Franchise HR Leaders Up at Night? Navigating Talent, Culture, and Growth

Six takeaways from a roundtable discussion with franchise HR professionals

In franchising, Human Resources leaders face unique challenges that span the dual realms of supporting the corporate franchise team and the franchisees the corporate team supports (all while staying clear of joint employer concerns). We recently joined forces with FranCareers to lead a  discussion with HR leaders to find out what keeps them up at night and how they’re  tackling their biggest issues.

1. New Ways of Working (in person, remote, hybrid)

The shift toward hybrid work models is undeniable with more organizations than ever before offering a blend of in-office and remote work. For HR leaders, the challenge lies in balancing the need for in-person collaboration with the flexibility that today’s talent demands. High-level executives, in particular, are harder to recruit and retain without the option of remote work. The consensus? Embrace flexibility or risk a talent drought. Some leaders have found creative solutions, such as supporting travel to headquarters when necessary, to demonstrate a commitment to adaptability.

2. Supporting Franchisees’ Recruitment Efforts

Offering franchisee support without crossing the delicate line of joint employment remains a hot topic. HR leaders are finding innovative ways to empower franchisees, from providing soft-skills training to offering tools for effective one-on-ones and structured onboarding plans. The use of third-party staffing companies and comprehensive resources like an “FBC Bible”, which offers tools and tips (not MANDATES) to help franchisees and reinforces how they can align with the franchisor’s values and practices at the corporate level, helps field support teams help franchisees navigate HR challenges.

3. Engaging Remote Employees

With remote work comes the challenge of keeping employees aligned and engaged. Sharing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) widely, ensuring employees understand their decision-making powers, and hosting regular in-person and virtual team gatherings are vital to help remote employees feel connected to the broader goals and culture of the organization.

4. Overlooked Internal Operations

A recurring theme is the tension between growth and retention, with internal operations often receiving less attention and resources. Field coaches, serving as the frontline of corporate culture and franchisee support, embody this challenge. Their role is crucial yet complex, requiring a deep understanding of both the brand’s values and the franchisees’ needs. Empathy, clear communication, and understanding the “why” behind decisions are critical for aligning franchisees with corporate goals.

5. Meeting Employees’ Individual Needs

Supporting mental and emotional well-being has become an\d increasingly important focus for HR, and that can look different for every employee. To emphasize that they care for their employees, some organizations are offering “mental health days” and more flexibility around family leave. One leader explained that  they pay for employees to work with an executive coach and organizational psychologist as needed. Other examples include facilitating mentorships outside the organization for employees to connect with mentors who can support them in their personal and professional growth. These initiatives are examples of a thoughtful and intentional approach to corporate culture, and serve as a model for franchisees to consider in their own organizations to core values at every level of your brand. 

6. Leadership’s Weighted Words

Finally, the impact of leadership communication cannot be overstated. Leaders must be mindful of the urgency and weight their words carry, ensuring clarity around priorities and distinguishing between brainstorming and actionable directives. There is also a recognition that middle managers need coaching on how to “manage up.” Knowing how to address changes needed from leadership—whether it’s what they communicate, the level of urgency, how they engage with the team, how to empower team members to hire RIGHT or fire fast—can be difficult conversations to have with the “boss” if you haven’t done it before. 

HR leaders in franchising are navigating complex challenges, from fostering a flexible and engaging work environment in order to fill roles with strong talent, to supporting franchisees and maintaining a strong corporate culture that resonates and trickles down to their own organizations. Through innovative strategies and a focus on clear communication—and exchanging best practices with each other—these professionals are tackling the issues keeping them up at night and driving their organizations toward a future of growth and unity.

Want to join our next gathering of HR leaders and be part of the discussion and solutions? Reach out to get an invite!

Related Content


The CEO’s Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Positive Culture in Franchising

Despite its critical importance, culture is frequently overlooked by leadership. This eBook provides practical advice for franchise leadership teams for creating and  maintaining a culture that leads to greater productivity and profitability.


About the Author: Michelle Rowan

Michelle is the president of FBR, the former Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Women’s Franchise Committee. and a Certified Franchise Executive. She is the recipient of the 2022 Crystal Compass Award, has facilitated CEO Performance Groups and Executive Networking Groups and is also a mentor of UNH college students. When she is not at work she is usually reading, playing outside, or hanging out with her husband and daughter.
Want more like this? Connect with us...