According to a 2020 Paycor survey, labor expenses can account for as much as 70% of total business costs, including employee wages, benefits, payroll or other related taxes. Employees are essential to keep your business running, which is why it’s so important for them to stay motivated and productive during these ever-changing times. Although markets and industries across the globe are struggling to stay afloat and retain employees, know that volatility is normal and it's something you can prepare for.

Your labor force is your organization’s most valuable asset. Making adjustments to your benefits package that suit your team’s needs can significantly boost your organization’s overall productivity and ultimately impact your bottom line. It also shows your employees how much you care during these difficult times.

What are some of the factors that impact employee productivity?

Employee benefits are one of the most useful tools you can leverage to boost productivity at your organization. In recent years, food perks have become one of the most sought after employee benefits. In fact, a recent Upwave survey found that 63% of companies with a robust food program in place have seen a positive impact on company culture, showing the significant impact food benefits have.

Truly, the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Though at first sight offering food at work may seem like an additional cost, companies significantly increase their productivity as well as their overall profit. A 2020 DoorDash survey found that 49% of respondents said they've had at least one work failure, including missing a deadline, a call, or other work matter, due to a need to prepare food for themselves or family. Food delivery isn’t just a great benefit. Instead of waiting in line at a restaurant, having meals delivered to their place of work can save employees significant time that they can be investing into your business.

This goes to show that your corporate employee benefits have an impact on productivity, job satisfaction, and company culture. A recent DoorDash study found that employee happiness boosts productivity at work by 12%. By ensuring employee happiness and satisfaction in their workplace you’re investing in your bottom line. 

What is a subsidized lunch program?

Choosing an employee benefit that has a direct impact on their productivity is key to ensuring business continuity. That's why implementing an expensed meals program is a great way to increase employee satisfaction. With the help of DoorDash you can offer food delivery in an effort to promote healthy lifestyle and encourage healthy eating habits. Here are a few solutions you can implement at your organization:

  • Expensed Meals: Set a food ordering budget for employees to expense meals anytime, anywhere they work. This is the best option for employees working from home.
  • Group Orders: As a safer alternative to in-office catering, you can have food individually packaged and delivered directly to your office. Whether it's lunches with clients or team meetings, your employees add their own dishes to the group’s shopping cart, so everyone can order what they want together.
  • DashPass for Work: With a DoorDash membership as part of your employee benefits package, your employees get $0 delivery fees and reduced service fees on eligible orders.
  • Employee Gift Cards: Let your employees know they're appreciated by treating them to their favorite meal with DoorDash gift cards.

How can a subsidized lunch help?

With the new normal, job satisfaction and engagement have become priorities for many employees, often even above salary. Current trends indicate that now company benefits are more important than ever and understanding what makes employees happy helps HR departments offer more attractive benefits. While healthcare and paid time off have been sought after traditionally, employees are now looking for other innovative options.

According to a 2020 DoorDash survey, 21% of those surveyed rank free food delivery as the number one benefit they desire, above improved or lower cost health insurance, additional vacation, and transportation stipends. When a company offers meal perks, it shows employees that the company wants to create a supportive environment and make workers feel valued.

In fact, new research shows that 76% of employees say "eating and socializing with colleagues" is their most missed food-related benefit since they’ve been forced to work from home. As put by a team member at Q Bio: "We've been happy to offer DoorDash/Caviar to our team at Q Bio. With the pandemic and with everyone working from home, we no longer had catered company meals for the team. But we knew that while we could no longer eat together, having lunch or dinner readily available was still a point of stress for many of our team. Getting DoorDash and DashPass was a no-brainer to help take care of our team at Q Bio and for everyone to have one less thing to worry about. It's been one of the most beloved benefits we hear about in this new normal." 

How physical health impacts productivity

When it comes to motivation and productivity, the first thing we often think of is the ability to focus on core tasks, having an ergonomic workspace, and company culture. However, what your employees eat daily also has a significant impact on their performance and productivity.

In fact, a 2020 Upwave Survey found that 56% of employees said that food benefits would increase their productivity. Here are a few ways to better understand how nutrition and encouraging employees to adopt healthy eating habits can impact your organization's productivity:

  • Higher energy level: You are what you eat. Each kind of food is processed differently by the body and knowing the effect it can have on energy levels is key to optimizing productivity. For instance, refined carbohydrates like white bread or pasta can give workers a nearly instant energy boost followed by a dip. A cheeseburger, while providing a more stable energy level, it's slower to digest, making employees feel lethargic as it breaks down. On the other hand, a meal option that includes a lean protein like grilled chicken with whole grains like brown rice and veggies enables workers to have a stable energy level and doesn't make them feel sluggish. If you’re looking for suggestions on what to order to your offers, our dietitians suggest salads, grain or poke bowls, and sandwiches.

  • Enhanced focus and mental clarity: Having a healthy diet that has a foundation on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats is crucial to optimize focus and sharpness of mind throughout the workday. Even though the human brain is only 2% of our body weight, it's the primary consumer of glucose in the body using 20% of glucose-derived energy. This means that when your employees don't nurture their bodies adequately, they can become tired and have a hard time concentrating.
  • Improved sleep: When employees haven't had a good night's sleep, it directly impacts how they perform during the workday. Food plays a crucial role in the quality and duration of employees' sleep. In fact, studies have found that high-fat diets and spicy foods close to bedtime lead to poor quality sleep. This is why free food delivery can be especially helpful for employees who are exhausted at the end of the day and don’t want to spend their free time making a healthy dinner.
  • A healthy diet reduces sick days: If your employees are often tired, have a hard time focusing, or are prone to taking sick days, they may be affected by what they're eating. Eating a healthy balanced diet is key to having a healthy immune system, which ultimately reduces sick days and increases employee productivity. The vitamins and minerals found in fruits, vegetables, probiotics, and a variety of proteins boosts the human immune system and helps fight off diseases.


Ways you can help your employees eat healthier

So how important is lunch for employees anyway? While breakfast has the reputation of being the most important, lunch is the meal that sustains workers' energy throughout the day. Healthy lunches are crucial to keeping your team's energy levels stable, ultimately increasing productivity. By encouraging employees to have a healthy lunch, you are investing in their overall long-term health, and reducing the onset of chronic diseases.

Unfortunately, many employees across North America don't take the time to have a healthy lunch. In fact, a 2020 DoorDash survey found that over 57% of employees said they’re too busy to take a full hour lunch break. Not taking a lunch break at work often results in decreased productivity, health issues, lower job satisfaction, and increased rates of burnout. 

A healthy lunch can help your employees feel and perform their best during the workday. Knowing which foods leave your team feeling fatigued and what kind of nutrition boosts their focus and capacity to work is key. Meal delivery apps, especially DoorDash, have made it easy and efficient to have food delivered to employees. Food delivery is also a great way to show employees they're appreciated and has a positive impact on their overall health as well as their productivity. In fact, a 2020 DoorDash survey found 82% of respondents said they’d feel more satisfied at work if their company offered free food delivery cards

Whether working remotely or going back to the office, including benefit options like DoorDash for Work's Expensed Meals makes your employees' lives easier and gives them access to numerous options of healthy meals. Although ordering food online is easy, employees should have some background on healthy eating habits and knowledge on how to make good food choices. Sharing with your team the advantages of healthy eating habits can also make it easier for them to incorporate them into their lifestyles. 

By holding an educational webinar with a professional nutritionist, your employees can learn how to implement healthy choices into their daily eating plan. On top of offering smart meal solutions, communicating the benefits of healthy eating habits could be a part of your organization's internal newsletter. Let them know that healthy food doesn't necessarily equate with time-consuming meal prep. Offer them the ease and convenience of DoorDash for Work products, such as DashPass for Work and Employee Gift Cards.

Improve employee wellbeing

One of the most important ways a subsidized lunch program can support your employees is by boosting their overall wellbeing. Company-sponsored meals can nourish more than just employees’ bodies—in fact, they can nourish their overall mental wellness too.


Offer subsidized lunch to support employee mental health

Today, many employees are struggling with the ongoing stress of the pandemic but the effects may not be easy to spot. A recent study from Lime Global Limited in the UK found that half of employees surveyed felt pressure to disguise their difficulty in coping with both the stresses of the job and the stresses of the pandemic. Additionally, only 16% of workers felt their mental health needs were being supported at work.

There are many strategies for supporting your employees’ mental and emotional wellbeing at work, and finding ways to promote work-life balance is at the heart of this. Start by acknowledging the mental stress some employees may be facing, and build a culture that creates space for employees to express their needs—especially during periods of transition.

Moments of change offer a lot of uncertainty, which is stressful for everyone. By finding ways to offer extra support to employees during times like these, you can help build a more resilient workforce. A recent Forbes article underscores this with advice from Jonathan Gary, CEO of i-Kare Treatment Center. He says, “Most importantly, try to offer extra support to individuals with mental illness during periods of change.” 

Subsidizing meals is one way to ease the burden of the “mental load” that so many people, especially mothers and other caretakers, bear the brunt of. The idea of the mental load refers to the cognitive work and emotional labor that goes into managing everyday tasks. For example, with meals, it’s not just the act of cooking food—it’s the process of meal planning, taking into account the schedules and dietary needs of everyone in the family, and making sure the right groceries are bought, stored properly, and cooked before they go back.

Subsidizing meals can ease the mental load for employees that are already feeling stretched thin, and provide a little extra bandwidth for all employees at your company. This adds up to employees that feel more refreshed, more recharged, and more ready to tackle the big challenges at work.

Offer subsidized lunch as a wellness benefit

As many employers are revisiting their remote work policies in the wake of the pandemic, they’re also taking a closer look at the wellness benefits packages they offer to their employees. What made sense in a fully in-person world may not be as beneficial for employees during this hybrid “new normal.”

With the “Great Resignation” underway and employees considering big career jumps, many companies are also exploring new wellness benefits to help attract and retain employees. According to, multiple California businesses are testing out benefits like yoga stipends, flexible work schedules, signing bonuses, and more. Offering meals is a simple but effective way to offer a wellness benefit that’s flexible and fits in with your employees’ individual lives. Whether they work at home or come into the office, DoorDash for Work benefits can help ensure they have access to fresh, healthy, and convenient meals.

Assist with time management

Another way benefits like lunch programs help boost your bottom line is by powering productivity. When reviewing your company’s benefits offerings, consider what changes you can make that will help employees better manage their time at work. For example, have you considered offering flexible work arrangements, team-building events, and family care assistance policies in addition to offering company-sponsored meals?

Today’s pace of life moves fast and employees are forced to contend with a long list of duties and distractions both in the office and at home. A recent DoorDash for Work survey found that a staggering 57% of employees feel too busy to take a full hour lunch break. Working parents are struggling as well, with 53% of them reporting having made an error at work due to stress over preparing meals for their family. Providing subsidized lunches is one small but powerful way to help your employees get their time back and be able to focus better on the important tasks at hand. When employees are fed, everyone benefits.

Fuel overall employee motivation

Another way benefits like subsidized lunches can reinvigorate your workforce is by fueling employee motivation. According to a recent DoorDash survey, 3 out of 4 employees said food benefits would increase their productivity at work. Beyond that, why not capitalize on the lunch hour, and turn it into a moment that’s about more than just eating? You can also use company lunches as an excuse for entertainment, education, and other team-building activities.

Consider sponsoring a monthly or quarterly all-hands lunch to bring teams together over a shared meal—whether they’re working in person or remotely. Instead of sharing the usual company status report, think about ways to use this time to re-energize employees and strengthen your company culture. Bring in interesting speakers that are relevant to your employees’ interests—like wellness experts, productivity experts, and other subject matter experts—to share an informative, engaging talk and answer employee questions.

Taking time out of the work day to relax and learn something new over a shared meal will leave your employees creatively inspired and reenergized. Sometimes all we need is a change in perspective to reignite our energy and motivation. These events don’t need to be company-wide either—you can give managers and leads the green light to set up their own lunch rituals based on what makes sense for their individual teams.

Boosting your bottom line with a company lunch program

At the end of the day, adding subsidized lunch benefits can have a real impact on your company’s productivity, creativity, and overall wellbeing in a way that’s both meaningful and measurable. Curious what that number looks like for you? Check out the The ROI of DoorDash for Work to understand how your corporate employee benefits have a daily impact on productivity, work-life balance, job satisfaction, and more.

Whatever today’s “new normal” looks like for your organization, DoorDash for Work has a product designed specifically for your needs. From Expensed Meals to DashPass for Work, there’s a variety of effective options to choose from. Sign up for DoorDash for Work and get started today.


Kristen Van Nest

Kristen Van Nest is an L.A.-based freelance B2B writer with bylines in Forbes, HuffPost, and VentureBeat to name a few. As a former Fulbright Scholar and Newsroom Columnist for the British Chamber of Commerce, she specializes in market trends and strategies businesses can use to grow. Her free time is spent ordering in dumplings and honeycomb ice cream and writing funny content to make people laugh.