Noodles & Company adds breast milk shipping, adoption assistance to growing benefits package

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Noodles & Company, a fast-casual pasta chain, has expanded its benefits package to focus on family-friendly perks.

The Broomfield, Colorado-based chain has added six full weeks of fully paid maternity leave, a $10,000 adoption assistance, breast milk shipment reimbursement and flexible time off, along with enhancing its parental leave policy. Noodles & Co. will also offer $1,000 in student loan debt assistance a year to general managers and give veterans paid time off on Veterans Day.

“We actually started talking about these over a year ago," says Amy Cohen, director of benefits and compensation at Noodles & Co. “It is part of longer-term strategy to be the best place to work by 2020.”

The company says it wanted to offer a benefits package that recognizes the importance of work-life balance, especially because female employees make up about 54% of the company’s workforce.

Because the company is staffed predominantly by hourly workers, the paid maternity leave and two full months of additional parental leave are available to assistant general manager-level employees and higher.

“We pay them based on what their expected hours are,” Cohen says, noting a 45-hour workweek is typical.

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Likewise, the company will reimburse employees who travel for work if they need to ship breastmilk.

Cohen says she is unsure how much it will be utilized, but says that field leaders who go from market to market might want to exercise that benefit.

Noodles and Co. has just fewer than 10,000 employees across 475 locations across the country. There is a manager at each location and about 120 corporate team managers and field support workers. The average employee age is 23, Cohen says.

“Having great benefits is not [about] the benefit itself but what it represents about the company,” Cohen says. “When you have locations across the country with 20 employees per location, it’s really hard to make sure our culture is being lived and embodied in all of our restaurants.”

Many of the benefits target assistant general managers and higher, the people who Cohen says set the culture.

The changes, which went into effect on Jan. 1, join other benefits such as dental and vision coverage, employee assistance programs and 401(k) retirement plans. Eligible employees also receive medical insurance, while assistant general managers and above receive life insurance and disability coverage.

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