&pizza, the Washington, D.C.-based fast-casual pizza brand that uses a texting hotline to communicate with its employees, is known for its unusually robust worker benefits and support systems, that mantra has not waned during an international pandemic.
As COVID-19 began shutting down the country, the anti-establishment pizza brand began implementing its first wave of extended employee benefits in early March, including hourly wage increases, free pizza for employees, transportation partnerships with Lyft for subsidized rides, and an expanded paid sick leave policy. One month later they’ve committed to continuing these benefits with added categories including paying for $20 of their employees’ subscription needs, a partnership with Talkspace for free virtual therapy, and weekly virtual fitness classes.
“We looked at the business and said, ‘this is good for basic protection but now we’re looking at what can we add on to help our tribes thrive in this environment?’” &pizza COO Andy Hooper said. “We felt like fitness, health and leisure activities were key.”
But as operators struggle to even pay for their employees’ regular hourly wages and sick leave, how can &pizza afford these extra benefits during a pandemic where the entire economy is figuratively tightening its belt?
“It starts with first and foremost that many of these things are part of the DNA of &pizza,” Hooper said. “It has been founded on ‘doing well by doing good.’ […] we’re fortunate. The pizza business generally does well during times like this. […] when something like this happens, we look at it as an opportunity to make investments.”
Listen to his story in this week’s episode of our Extra Serving podcast.
This is part of our Stories from the Front Lines series.
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