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Carpoolin': Why Discounted Rideshare Programs Are a Great Perk for Employees

The latest trend in employee benefits packages is discounted, late-night Lyft rides to work.

As the restaurant industry faces chronic difficulties with retaining employees in light of a low unemployment rate, QSR and fast casual franchisors and restaurants are offering a variety of incentives to keep employees happy. 

The latest in unique employee benefits is a partnership between &pizza, a Washington, D.C.-based fast casual concept with more than 35 units on the East Coast, and Lyft. The pizza chain announced Wednesday that it is testing a "Lyft for Late Nights," a discounted rideshare program for its employees, which offers flat fare rideshare coverage of $4.50 for its employees who travel between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. 

This July, Lyft also launched a program for food service workers in Boston, many of whom work late-night hours at bars and restaurants. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, these types of transit and parking benefits have the potential to increase workers' engagement and can also remove a major pain point for some employees, particularly those with non-traditional hours. 

According to the American Public Transportation Association, late-night public transit services aren't as reliable as daytime services, and many late-night jobs require a car to travel home. Franchisors investing in partnerships with services like Lyft may be more cost-effective to operate than awarding employees with a fixed-route bus or train service. 

These carpool partnerships have the potential to drive employee loyalty, as well as serve as a tax incentive and positive PR for franchisors. As franchisors pull out all the stops to recruit and retain employees—including Chipotle’s debt-free tuition and Noodles & Company’s new financial wellness resources—partnerships like this one could become more common.

Since the foodservice industry has the most public transit commuters of any other industry, franchisors and franchisees would be smart to keep this in mind when coming up with new ways to retain employees.