Everything to Keep in Mind When Updating your Employee Wellness Program

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When we are healthy and strong, we feel good and perform better in all areas of our lives. That’s why it’s important to focus on our wellness at home and at the workplace. After all, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 156 million people spend the majority of their waking hours working. The office is an ideal place to promote employee health and wellbeing.

It’s not surprising that many companies today offer employee wellness programs, such as food delivery and other benefits that reduce stress and improve productivity. A recent CDC study reported that about half of all American workplaces offered some type of wellness initiative. If your company hasn’t yet incorporated an employee wellness program into your benefits, now is a perfect time to start. And if you do have a program in place, see if it needs updating to provide your team the most benefits for the coming year. It’s an investment in your employees’ health, as well as your company’s, and will ensure that both continue to thrive.

A wellness program that addresses all aspects of employee health—mental, emotional, and physical—is more essential than ever. Numerous studies and news articles have focused on the anxiety produced by the coronavirus pandemic and its shelter-in-place guidelines that had many people working from home and socially distant from friends and family. Increased rates of stress, depression, substance abuse, and suicidal thoughts have all been real concerns. Supportive wellness programs that can be accessed by remote employees are vital during times of crisis. It’s a meaningful way for companies to show they truly care for the welfare of their team members.

What is an Employee Wellness Program?

A worksite wellness program is a comprehensive, integrated effort to promote healthy lifestyle choices among employees. It’s holistic, which means it can encompass every aspect of wellness—physical, mental, and emotional health.

Generally, these programs focus on prevention, education, and behavior management and modification. That means you can offer everything from health screenings to exercise classes to stress management to help employees live their best lives.

When you’re creating an employee wellness program, it should fully align with your company culture. Company policies should also support wellness program goals and objectives. For example, if your wellness program encourages healthy eating habits, create an environment that will help your team achieve that goal—stock the break room with fresh produce, ensure employees take adequate lunch breaks, and offer access to nutritious meals. Many companies use DoorDash for Work solutions such as DashPass to offer a free-delivery subscription to reduce stress and increase productivity or Expensed Meals for team members working remotely. Expensed Meals gives work-from-home employees great flexibility because they can order food anytime, from anywhere, even when they’re not in the office.

If boosting physical fitness is one of your objectives, create a flexible culture where employees can attend a spin class in the morning or leave work early to take a yoga class. For your work-from-home team members, find subscriptions to online or streaming fitness programs with various workouts that can be done on their schedules. Purchasing pedometers or smartwatches for your employees also encourages them to get outside and move around.

One of the great things about worksite wellness programs is their versatility. Small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike implement unique wellness programs tailored to suit their specific needs.

Also, these initiatives can be short or long term, depending on your company’s goals and budget. A month-long challenge to see how many steps your employees can rack up may be part of a broader, multi-year strategy to promote physical activity. Try an app such as StepBet. Here, your employees can participate in the challenge while working from home.

With the support of top management and careful planning, an employee wellness program offers tremendous benefits to companies and employees.

Why You Should Have an Employee Wellness Program

There’s a reason why employee wellness programs are so popular: they can have a profoundly positive impact on an individual, corporate, and community level.

Individual benefits

Employees who have the tools to lead a healthy lifestyle can see a marked improvement in their physical and mental wellbeing. This type of change can be meaningful: about half of all American adults have a chronic health condition such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, or cardiovascular disease that could be improved with smart lifestyle choices such as eating a well-balanced diet and exercising regularly.

According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, when people lead healthy lives, they feel more energetic, have a positive mindset, and feel physically strong and fit. In turn, this will build their sense of self-esteem. It can also lead to lifestyle changes within their circle of family and friends as they role model the positive outcomes of a health-focused way of life.

Company benefits

Healthier employees = happier employees. The CDC states that a worksite wellness program that prioritizes employee health can improve morale.

And with a healthy workforce, productivity increases. American employers lose $36.4 billion per year from employees missing work due to high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity.

Enhanced productivity stemming from worksite wellness programs can positively affect your company’s bottom line. One study found that companies with award-winning employee wellness efforts outperformed the stock market. Good health brings other cost savings, too. According to the CDC, preventable, chronic health conditions are a major contributor to the costs of health insurance premiums and medical claims filed by employees. For example, one study determined the following 10 health conditions were the top drivers of total medical, pharmacy, and productivity costs:

  1. Back/neck pain
  2. Depression
  3. Fatigue
  4. Chronic pain
  5. Sleeping problems
  6. High cholesterol
  7. Arthritis
  8. Hypertension
  9. Obesity
  10. Anxiety

Finally, wellness programs can help your company’s employee recruitment and retention rates. Benefits are a major consideration for employees looking for a job, or deciding whether to move on from their current position, and worksite wellness programs are an attractive perk.

Community benefits

Employee wellness programs have gained in popularity in the wake of COVID-19. A survey of 816 large employers found that 45% of them were broadening their wellness program offerings in response to the pandemic. That’s because 63% of participants thought that COVID-19 will have a “moderate to large effect” on employee wellbeing, including mental/emotional health. More than 77% of these companies will expand access to virtual mental health services.

In fact, a September 2020 survey of American employees found that 58% of them suffered burnout during the coronavirus pandemic; a different poll reported that 53% of adults said their mental health had been negatively affected by stress related to COVID-19. By caring for their employees holistically—addressing their psychological as well as physical health—companies can help combat the loneliness and isolation that team members may be struggling with.

As we all move through this difficult time together, it’s crucial to consider how lowering health care costs and incorporating preventive health programs can benefit our society as a whole. Not only can preventive programs save lives in the long run, but they can also reduce health care costs for employees and employers. And when employees stay healthy on the job, they can continue making contributions to essential federal programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Components of an Employee Wellness Program

An employee wellness program is the sum of its parts, so it’s important to consider what initiatives and services you want to offer. There are dozens of innovative ideas you can incorporate into your company’s worksite wellness plan:


  • Provide healthy meals and snacks for team members with DoorDash for Work products.
  • Install water stations for refilling sustainable water bottles.
  • Offer workshops or webinars on healthy eating tips or share them over Slack.
  • Give employees access to registered dietitians and nutrition counseling.
  • Sponsor company-wide events that promote healthy eating, such as potlucks or cooking contests.
  • Pay for subscriptions to apps that help employees with meal planning, healthy recipes, food journaling, or offer free food delivery.

Stress reduction

  • Offer access to yoga or meditation classes (on site, through employer-funded gym memberships, or Zoom classes).
  • Set up a nap or relaxation room in a vacant office.
  • Offer access to meditation apps to promote stress relief and relaxation.
  • Bring in a massage therapist to provide chair massages.

Behavior modification programs

  • Sponsor weight-loss initiatives or give employees discounts to diet-based programs. Find online or app-based programs accessible for in-office and remote employees.
  • Hold fitness challenges that increase physical activity levels. Make sure work-from-home employees can participate virtually.
  • Offer services to help employees quit smoking.

Health risk assessments

  • Ask employees to fill out questionnaires that help them get a clearer picture of potential health issues and better understand which programs will work for them.

Health screenings

  • Biometric screenings can include blood pressure tests, glucose level tests (to check for diabetes), BMI or body fat measurements (obesity), blood lipid panels (cholesterol or cardiovascular issues), and fitness level testing. These can help identify risk factors for various diseases or health conditions. A report from the American Heart Association found that these screenings were useful in reducing health risks when partnered with an effective, actionable health and wellness program.
  • Ask your insurance carrier about telehealth options that offer employees virtual follow-up care or wellness coaching based on their screening results.

Physical fitness

  • Pay for or partially subsidized gym memberships for your employees.
  • Alternatively, offer on-site fitness classes, such as an outdoor boot camp on the lawn outside your building.
  • Pay for a streaming fitness service so employees can work out at home.
  • Promote the practice of walking meetings.
  • Give employees a monthly fitness or healthy eating allowance that can be used for apps, gear, equipment, and workout-related activities.
  • Hold fun fitness challenges, and reward team members who meet the goal with a prize.
  • Organize a company team to participate in a live or virtual 5K.

Vaccination clinics

  • Offer on-site flu shots, shingles vaccines, or immunization boosters, so employees have easy access to services.
  • Use internal communications channels to encourage work-from-home team members to get their flu shots and give them time off to get the vaccine.

Mental health services

  • Ensure your employees have access to confidential mental health counseling. Offer online or phone-based services that can be used by employees working from home or in the office.
  • Plan activities that promote mental wellness, such as meditation.
  • Give employees free subscriptions to apps or services that enhance mental wellbeing, such as Headspace and Calm.
  • Institute a flexible PTO policy to help employees maintain balance. This can include mental health days or flexible work hours that easily accommodate doctor appointments.
  • The company culture should eliminate any stigma against emotional/mental health issues and offer initiatives that educate and support employees.

Education programs

  • Host lunchtime workshops or webinars on employee wellness issues. Topics can include nutrition, mental health, physical fitness, risk factors for certain diseases, and preventive measures for heart health, among others.

Community service efforts

  • Grant employees PTO to pursue their personal volunteer efforts, such as walking dogs at an animal shelter or serving meals at a homeless shelter.
  • Organize company-wide initiatives to volunteer in the community, especially if the cause aligns with the company’s values/mission. If your business strives to be environmentally friendly, for instance, take a day for all of your team members to participate in a park or beach cleanup. If your team can’t be together, have everyone choose a different activity and share their experiences during a company Zoom meeting. Volunteering also brings health benefits, such as a lower risk of depression, decreased stress, and higher levels of mental/physical health compared to those who don’t volunteer regularly.

Rewards program

  • Motivate and encourage employees to participate in the worksite wellness program and pursue healthy lifestyle habits by offering prizes or incentives.
  • Provide group or individual rewards that match the level of effort — the more work it takes to reach a goal, the bigger the prize should be.
  • Use incentives that dovetail with employee wellness goals. For instance, give a DoorDash gift card to participants who lower their blood cholesterol levels or take 10,000 steps per day to help reinforce and maintain healthy habits.
  • Make sure your rewards program complies with all local, state, and federal guidelines.

How to Start Your Employee Wellness Program

Now that you know the basics about employee wellness programs, you’re ready to get started creating one for your company. Put the work in now during the planning stages, and you’ll reap the benefits when the program is in place.

Get the necessary background information

The first thing you’ll want to do is conduct preliminary research. A key component is getting your employees’ input since they’ll be the ones using the worksite wellness program. An easy way to do this is surveying them on their main health concerns and what they’d like to see in a wellness program. You can also ask for suggestions via your company’s online communications platform or a Google form your employees can fill out. You’ll also want to determine if your company has the infrastructure in place to administer and manage the program or if you’ll need the services of a third-party vendor.

This is also a good time to consult with your legal team to ensure your program meets all federal and state guidelines. For instance, the CDC outlines how health risk assessments can be used in the workplace, while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission covers recommendations for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act rules can also apply to wellness programs.

In addition, contact your company’s insurance provider to see what type of coverage may be offered for wellness program services, as well as the potential effect the program may have on health care costs. Finally, take a good look at your worksite to see how it promotes employee wellness. Are there sidewalks around the building to make walking easier? Are there bike racks for employees to ride to work? Can extra office space be converted to a wellness room?

Get your worksite wellness team together

Overseeing a wellness program is no small task. You’ll want to form a leadership committee charged with developing and steering the program, as well as monitoring its effectiveness. This team should pull from several departments for broad representation: employees, an HR representative, and a member of senior leadership, among others. Everyone should have a clearly defined role.

Also, this committee should have the resources needed to carry out their duties, such as office supplies, a budget for preliminary expenditures, or equipment. If you’d rather contract with a third-party to provide and administer program services, appoint someone in your company to be their point of contact.

Put the program pieces together

The wellness leadership committee will use the research data to craft the details for your company’s program. Together, they will create a vision statement and policies to support the employee wellness initiatives. It’s also wise to come up with a catchy name, slogan, and logo for program branding.

Committee members will also set short- and long-term goals that are actionable and measurable, and that these goals meet the needs of employees at all health levels. If you want to improve your employees’ cardiovascular health, create a heart-healthy physical fitness program, and use employee participation rates and blood pressure screenings to help measure success. These goals can help the committee decide what kinds of services to offer in the program. Another key factor: the budget. The committee will need to pencil out expenditures, see what free services may be available, and determine if employees will need to pay any costs. Once all the details are in place, you’re ready for launch.

How to Ensure a Successful Employee Wellness Program

Start on the right foot by getting the support of executive-level leadership. That way, your employees know the program has company-wide backing. You want wellness to be a team effort, from the top down. Then take the following steps to ensure your hard work in planning pays off.

Get the word out

Clear communication is vital for the success of your worksite wellness program. Inform your employees about the program’s vision and mission, as well as ways they can use the services and the rewards offered for participation.

This can be done through your company’s internal communications channels, or you could turn it up a notch and make a splash with an all-hands team meeting. Unveil your program’s name, emblazon the logo or slogan on water bottles, T-shirts, or first-aid kits, and hand them out to all employees, and give out brochures on the program services. Buy a nutritious lunch for everyone using Expensed Meals to increase attendance. Want to go all out? Plan a company-wide health fair for your program kickoff. Program vendors and community partners can meet with employees and talk about their services, and you can supply healthy refreshments with DoorDash’s Full-Service Catering.

Have fun

You want your employees to enjoy getting healthier. Plan activities with a wellness slant, such as a field day, softball league, or a weekend hike. Don’t forget to celebrate when employees achieve goals or earn rewards, which can also motivate other employees to keep striving for their own wellness goals. A DoorDash Employee Gift Card is an ideal reward for these activities.

Keep track of program results

Once the program is up and running, don’t just sit back and relax. Your employee wellness committee should use its plan for tracking metrics to ensure the program is operating smoothly and make any necessary adjustments. As employees meet program goals, the committee can introduce new ones so that the initiative doesn’t grow stale for employees. And your team members should always have a way to give feedback; their insight can be a great barometer of what’s working and what isn’t.

DoorDash can help you build a strong Employee Wellness Program

DoorDash for Work can be a valuable tool in your employee wellness program. Food-based benefits are in demand with employees, especially those working from home. In a DoorDash survey of 1,000 working Americans, 85% said regular food delivery would increase their job satisfaction, and more than 1 in 5 respondents said free food delivery is their most-desired benefit. In fact, 55% of people surveyed said they would be jealous if friends or family received food perks from their companies.

Use DoorDash products to help reinforce healthy habits such as a nutritious diet (Expensed Meals, DashPass for Work) or as part of a rewards program (Employee Gift Cards, Full-Service Catering for company celebrations). Contact us today to learn more and download our checklist for Incorporating an Employee Wellness Program.


Expensed Meals

Expensed Meals

Employees can easily choose and expense meals anytime, anywhere they work. From desk lunches to late-night orders, we’ve got you covered.

Group Orders

Group Orders

Employees can add their own dishes to the group’s shopping cart. Your team gets to eat what they want, together.

DashPass for Work

DashPass for Work

Make a DoorDash subscription part of your employee benefits package. $0 delivery and reduced service fees on any order.


Gift Cards

Employee Gift Cards

Show your appreciation by treating your employees to their favorite meal. Give DoorDash credit to anyone you choose.