Noodles & Company is adding free in-person and virtual counseling sessions for all employees as well as other new benefits designed to help workers navigate the pandemic while also boosting diversity and inclusion at the chain, the company announced Thursday.
In addition to the limited number of counseling sessions, the Broomfield, Colo.-based fast casual is adding these employee benefits to its LifeAtNoodles program. Not all programs are available to all employees. Some, for example, are only open to managers and executives.
- Live mental health webinars
- Six weeks of paid paternity leave
- Surrogacy and adoption assistance
- Tuition assistance for all employees and their families
- Free dental services for children under 14
- Backup care program for dependents, including children, elders and pets
- Paid time off to vote
- Paid bereavement time for miscarriage
- Floating holidays not tied to the standard U.S. calendar
Noodles has been working on expanding its benefits for the last several years, but recent events—including the pandemic—spurred the company to enhance the program, said Sue Petersen, the chain’s vice president of human resources.
“I would certainly say the social unrest we’ve seen in the world has certainly created an opportunity for us to look at what we were doing with respect to inclusion and diversity,” Petersen said. “We self-reflected on where we could do better.”
The benefits will help expand diversity of all kinds within the organization, while also retaining high-quality employees, she said.
Noodles has improved its retention numbers in recent years, Petersen said, and is now seeing 28% year-over-year turnover at the management level, well below the 39% average in the fast-casual segment. Hourly turnover stands at about 118% year over year, roughly even with the industry’s average.
“A lot of this has stemmed from the recognition that our employees are at the front lines of everything going on in the last six months,” Amy Cohen, the chain’s director of total rewards, said. “This is a token of our appreciation and saying, ‘We are still with you. We want to invest in you and have you feel supported.’”
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