Corporate culture sets the groundwork for how your team interacts with each other and your customers. It’s the secret sauce that brings together cohesion, community and motivation. In a recent Deloitte study, over 80 percent of CEOs and HR managers surveyed believe that “culture is a potential competitive advantage.” In other words, cultivating a thriving corporate culture is critical to business success. What’s more, both employees and consumers want to do business with companies actively working to build a better world. Therefore, marrying corporate culture with company purpose is a one-two punch when it comes to carving out a competitive advantage.
MOD Pizza is an excellent example of a company that’s leveraging its purpose-driven corporate culture to stand out in a crowded market. The pizza brand actively practices what they call impact hiring. Impact hiring staffs people with a history of incarceration, drug abuse, mental illness or homelessness – it gives everyone an equal chance at being part of a meaningful brand and community. At first glance, hiring disadvantaged people may sound like a business risk. However, MOD has found that these people are more appreciative and work harder than others at performing entry-level tasks. From a branding standpoint, offering jobs for people who traditionally struggle with finding employment has positioned the company as a force for good. In turn, consumers feel good about supporting MOD and purchasing pizza with a purpose, effectively building impact into the act of consumption itself.
Here are key lessons from MOD Pizza on how to drive business growth through a positive and purposeful culture:
Take purpose-inspired risks: Executing on calculated risks is a critical component of profitability. Just as launching a new product line or opening a new store branch can lead to increased earnings, so can taking risks that strengthen corporate culture. Back in 2011, MOD Pizza hired its first previously incarcerated employee. As Entrepreneur explains, the original hire was not necessarily a purposeful endeavor. However, founders Ally and Scott Svenson noticed that the individual was more appreciative and harder working than other employees.
After the success they experienced with their first hire of this nature, MOD began employing more individuals seeking a new path in life. In another purpose-driven hiring, a Texas-based MOD manager employed an autistic person to help fold boxes. While other employees often view folding boxes as a tedious and undesirable task, the autistic hire found joy and pride in the process. The manager eventually hired more individuals with autism, down syndrome and other special needs. Today, over a third of that store’s staff are differently abled. Eventually, MOD’s founders made a point of hiring disadvantaged individuals and the commitment to impact hiring was born.
MOD took a risk by hiring individuals that had been incarcerated, people with disabilities and others dealing with hardships. This risk paid off by yielding productive and committed employees, building a purposeful brand and empowering its business to become a force for good.
Invest in your employees: Your employees are the building blocks of your company and significantly influence bottom line performance. In fact, a recent study found that corporations with engaged employees had over 16 percent higher profit margins than companies with disengaged and unsatisfied staff. Building a strong corporate culture is pivotal to fostering satisfied and engaged staff. To increase your employees’ commitment to your company, you must increase your commitment to your employees. This may mean paying special attention to ensure people have the skills they need and are happy on the job.
MOD Pizza treats its employees as part of its community. It works with its employees to help them reach their personal goals, whether that be getting off of the street, purchasing a home or learning something new. This investment in employees pays off because the people feel like the company cares about them. In turn, employees care more about the company. This translates into increased employee dedication, higher productivity and an overall positive attitude about work. By investing in your employees you will strengthen your corporate culture and receive greater return on your investments.
Share internal culture in external communications: Among today’s socially conscious consumers, having a clear impact-driven brand story is more important than ever. Consumers actively vote with their wallets to support companies doing good in the world. The only way consumers will know about the amazing work your brand is doing is if you tell them. For this reason, compelling purposeful storytelling is paramount to gaining consumer goodwill, trust and purchases. There are many pizza chains; however, MOD stands out because of its dedication to helping the communities it operates in and supporting those in need.
MOD’s commitment to using business as a force for good has propelled the brand to open over 380 storefronts across United States and the United Kingdom. Its rapid expansion is due to both a high-quality, customizable product, but also through its purposeful corporate culture and brand story. In short, MOD Pizza’s commitment to purpose, people and pizza has lead the company to success.
Business leaders looking to carve out a competitive advantage must lead with purpose. This means taking educated and calculated risks that build on your brand purpose. It also means taking the time and resources necessary to ensure your employees have what they need to thrive on the job, and then sharing those memorable stories of social impact with others in service of something larger than the brand itself.