Chipotle spices up its EAP with mental health, financial wellness benefits

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Free college degrees and bonuses weren’t enough for employees at Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Now, thanks to an updated EAP program, all 80,000 employees and their families will have 24/7 access to mental health, financial and legal support beginning next year. Chipotle executives say they upgraded the chain’s EAP to ensure their benefits are among the most holistic in the food service industry.

“Our vision for people is to create a culture where employees can thrive and pursue their passion and by extending access to all levels and enriching our employee assistance program, we are ensuring that our employees can build mental fitness and bring their best selves to work every day,” says Marissa Andrada, chief people officer at Chipotle, in Tuesday’s announcement.

The Mexican-inspired food chain partnered with Health Advocate, a Pennsylvania-based healthcare company, to provide mental health services to employees. Employees, and their family members, can access a counselor in-person, over the phone or through video chat, regardless of if they’re enrolled in Chipotle’s health plan. Health Advocate will also provide legal counseling services to Chipotle employees. These mental health and legal counselors can be accessed year-round, 24/7.

“By simplifying access to mental health benefits and identifying work-related risk factors, Chipotle is trying to minimize the effect of mental health in the workplace,” according to a Chipotle spokesperson.

Chipotle is also helping employees financially by contracting with Ayco, a financial counseling platform owned by Goldman Sachs, which can be accessed 24/7.

The employer decided to offer these programs after reviewing employee feedback expressing interest in these benefits. Chipotle executives also read a study by consulting firm PwC, which says 60% of employee stress is caused by financial worries.

The same PwC study fueled the company’s decision to provide free college degrees to its workforce last month. Under that program, Chipotle employees can earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in business and technology from online programs at the University of Arizona, Bellevue University, Brandman University, Southern New Hampshire University and Wilmington University.

“Chipotle recognizes that financial barriers can be one of the biggest obstacles that impede our employees from achieving their fullest potential,” Andrada says. “We are proud to launch this opportunity for debt-free degrees by providing free tuition to help our employees excel in all areas in their lives, both in and out of Chipotle.”

Earlier this year, Chipotle launched a bonus program where crews at individual restaurants have the opportunity to earn a week’s worth of extra pay each quarter by meeting sales goals. Restaurant crews can potentially earn a month’s worth of extra pay by qualifying for the bonus each quarter. Chipotle paid out $700,000 in bonuses throughout the first quarter of the program.

Along with the new 24/7 support hotlines, Chipotle announced it will provide a new integrated benefits platform, discounted gym memberships at national chains and updated PPO health plans. Employees also have access to English-as-a-second-language courses and more than $5,000 in tuition reimbursement.

“This is just the beginning of how we’re strategically investing in the well-being of our employees and their families,” Andrada says.

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