In an effort “to make Noodles & Company one of the best places to work in the fast-casual industry,” the company bolstered its Life@Noodles platform with a unique benefit that makes the maternity leave transition easier for employees. Effective January 1, qualifying expecting and postpartum mothers will be able to phase-out and phase-in to their maternity leave, allowing them to work an 80 percent schedule the four weeks before and four weeks after maternity leave, while receiving 100 percent pay.

“Transitioning to and from maternity leave can be a difficult time for mothers. Through our Life@Noodles initiative, we strive to make that adjustment easier for our team members,” said Dave Boennighausen, chief executive officer of Noodles & Company, in a statement. “This phase-out, phase-in program, which is unavailable elsewhere in the fast-casual industry, added to our already robust maternity, paternity and adoption benefits and reflects our commitment to nourishing and inspiring our Noodles & Company team. Our team members work hard for us, and we want to express our gratitude by offering top-of-the-line benefits that support them in and out of the workplace.”

READ MORE: Inside Noodles & Company’s stunning comeback.

Noodles & Company cited research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that says, after giving birth, one in nine women experience postpartum depression in addition to sleep deprivation and difficulty managing breastfeeding.

“Reentering the work world too quickly can increase work-related concerns and compound those issues. Phasing out of maternity leave allows mothers time to balance their work and personal lives and creates a work environment where employees can thrive,” the company said.

This adds to an already robust family-focused benefits program at the company, including:

  • Six weeks of fully paid maternity leave and expanded parental leave.
  • Adoption assistance of up to $10,000.
  • Breast milk shipment during business travel.
  • Flexible time off for corporate team members.

Noodles & Company also offers student loan debt assistant to its employees and competitive standard benefits, such as dental and vision coverage, employee assistance programs, and 401(k) retirement plans. Assistant general managers and above are also eligible for Noodles & Company’s medical and life insurance and disability coverage offerings.

Boennighausen, who has been with the company 14 years and met his wife there, told QSR in September that Noodles & Company grappled with turnover rates north of 200 percent in its restaurants when he first stepped in as interim CEO in 2016. It was 50 percent at the manager level. “The first thing that we did was really reengage our team around our core values,” he said.

In the second quarter, Noodles & Company reported its first positive same-store sales quarter since Q1 of 2015. It lifted comps 5.4 percent systemwide, year-over-year, including 8 percent at 65 franchised restaurants. Traffic upped 3.1 percent, which also signaled the highest growth for Noodles & Company in six years. Average-unit volumes hiked $27,000 to $1,092,000 compared to the prior-year period. Total revenue increased 4.1 percent to $117.4 million from $112.8 million.

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