How MOD Pizza’s Culture Drives Growth and Impact

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.

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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.

Written by

CEO We First Inc, author NYT's bestseller We First, strategic corporate consultant and trainer, father, Australian, optimist.

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