PandaDoc Has Built an Award Winning Workplace. Here’s How It Offers Wellness Events for 700+ Employees Worldwide

  • PandaDoc has been recognized as a top workplace multiple years in a row — and that’s no accident. Senior Manager of People Operations, Melanie Johnson, works with a wellness committee to host regular wellness events virtually and in person so everyone can feel connected and cared for. Melanie shared her experiences and expertise on the second episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast.

  • Running wellness initiatives at your company? Don’t do it alone — recruit the help of your co-workers and form a wellness committee. You’ll lighten your burden and gain the insights and perspectives of team members from different departments.

  • The success of an event doesn’t just come down to how many people showed up, although that is an important indicator. It also matters how engaged attendees were, both during and after the event, and how well the event connected them to each other.

Just a few years ago, fully remote businesses were few and far between. Now, most — if not all — companies have spent at least some time in the work-from-home world. 

Even though most organizations plan to return to the office (and sooner rather than later), remote and hybrid environments are here to stay, and companies need to learn to adapt. Organizations like document automation software PandaDoc are leading the charge. 

PandaDoc went remote in 2020 — but intends to stay that way. This decision is proving a competitive advantage for the company’s recruitment efforts. 

“When I was talking to one of our recruiters, one of the biggest questions that we receive from candidates is, Are we always going to stay remote?” says Melanie Johnson, Senior Manager of People Operations at PandaDoc. “They don’t want to go back to an office space.”

Melanie is no stranger to the challenges of hosting events and wellness initiatives for distributed teams. But with the help of her fellow “pandas” — the company’s nickname for employees — and a focus on company values, she helps keep PandaDoc an award-winning workplace that employees love. 

I spoke with Melanie on the second episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast. We explored PandaDoc’s company values, how to build a wellness culture both remotely and in person and defining success event by event. 

Bringing ‘LIFE’ to the Workplace

A company’s values shouldn’t be all talk and no action — and they certainly aren’t just words at PandaDoc. Melanie’s team plays a key role in upholding the PandaDoc values, which fit into an easy-to-remember acronym of “LIFE”:


  • Learning: Everyone at the company should be continually taking on new skills and knowledge. This takes the form of mentorship and learning and development opportunities.

  • Impact: No matter their role, each panda has a part to play. Their work matters, and the organization makes an effort to recognize accomplishments and contributions.

  • Fun: This value is pretty self-explanatory. Melanie and her team host special events designed to remind employees they’re valued and help them have a great time at work.

  • Empathy: While not a value many companies prioritize, the PandaDoc team feels it’s critical for those in leadership to begin by relating to their team. “When I first started looking for another position…that drew me in,” Melanie explains.

Strong values like these keep a company and its employees connected and invested.
Melanie and her PandaDoc co-workers host regular wellness events, and they intentionally infuse the company values into every interaction.

The Challenges of Hosting Wellness Events for a Remote Team

Cultivating wellness isn’t always easy with a distributed team. Around 80 of the company’s 750 worldwide employees live near St. Petersburg, Florida, and could attend an in-person event. But plenty of others don’t live near its sole U.S. office — and remote events can be uniquely challenging, according to Melanie. 

“Wellness efforts for onsite events are much easier to plan,” she says. She believes onsite events tend to drive better results because of elements like decorations and publicly posted event reminders that pandas encounter when they come to the office. “For the remote environment, unless you send somebody a calendar invite and you constantly ping them and remind them, they tend to forget about stuff like that.”

Yet even with these challenges, Melanie works hard to strike a balance with her wellness events, offering opportunities to engage both online and in-person. When her team hosts a fun wellness event onsite, she goes out of her way to offer a virtual event the same month to ensure distributed employees feel included. 

One month, PandaDoc hosted a virtual “Paint and Sip” event, shipping cocktail and mocktail kits to remote employees. That same month, in-person employees came to the office for a fitness rally. “[Those are] two different types of events,” Melanie notes. “[They’re] both fun, but totally different.”

Wellness by Committee

Luckily, Melanie doesn’t have to go it alone when creating a happy, healthy workplace. Because she handles benefits for all U.S. PandaDoc employees, wellness initiatives fall on her plate. But she created a wellness committee, inviting her fellow pandas to contribute their ideas and their time to build wellness into the company culture.

She put out a call on Slack for committee members and created a wellness Slack channel as well to drive excitement for the initiatives. Now, Melanie and four other employees meet monthly to plan the calendar of wellness events, evaluate each past event and brainstorm ways to improve participation.

Wellness committees benefit from having members who aren’t just from the HR department. “We want all types of voices,” Melanie explains, noting that her committee includes an engineer, someone from finance and a marketing team member. “It’s nice to have voices from different areas of the company to be able to pitch in and say, Hey, I’ve got an idea.

Even on a tight wellness budget, the diversity of ideas lets Melanie think big and get creative with the resources she has.

Measuring the Success of a Wellness Event

How do you define the success of an event? You might think it comes down to the number of participants, but according to Melanie, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. 

For instance, PandaDoc hosted a terrarium-building event focused on mindfulness. The educational program taught participants about various succulent types, substrates and best practices for helping the plants thrive.

The pandas in attendance built something to put on their desks and later shared photos on Slack. “It was a really good experience,” Melanie says. Plus, out of the 30 people who registered to attend the event, “Not one person didn’t show. We had full participation.” Both the attendance numbers
and people’s eagerness to talk about the event indicated that terrarium-building had been a clear success.

On the other hand, low attendance isn’t inherently a sign of an unsuccessful event
, like with PandaDoc’s virtual game show event. Out of 25 people who signed up to attend, only 10 people showed up. But those 10 attendees had a great time. “They were talking, they had so much fun, they invited their families — they got everybody involved,” Melanie recalls. 

What’s more, the pandas in attendance talked about the event well after the fact, lamenting that their co-workers hadn’t joined and hoping for another event like it in the future.
Attendees’ energy and excitement can indicate success that goes far beyond attendance numbers.

Social events are key for helping a distributed team like PandaDoc’s feel connected. As Melanie says, “Here’s your opportunity to spend some time together and do something fun with your coworkers. … Just take some time, take an hour and relax and have a good time and do something that you normally would not do.”

It’s a particularly good year for PandaDoc to focus on these connection-focused events. Each year, they focus on one of their core values, and 2023 is the year of fun. What could be more fun than a wellness event with your co-workers, both near and far?

Quick Tips for a Wellness Culture

Melanie’s years of experience in HR and culture-building have given her a wealth of knowledge to share with others, like her advice to look for free or low-cost resources when running wellness initiatives on a tight budget.

Another best practice she would offer to other HR teams? Don’t take it personally if an event doesn’t go as planned, she says. “If something doesn’t work and it bombs completely, it’s not your fault. … You can’t feel like a failure….You’ve done your best.” 


Of course, one of the best ways to cope with the less-successful events and celebrate the wins is to have a core group of people around you like PandaDoc’s wellness committee. “Enlist the help of your co-workers,” she explains. “You need a hive mind. You need those other people to bounce ideas off of, to give suggestions [and] to input their ideas.”

Like many of the best things in life, wellness is better done together. So find your people, link arms with them and build the kind of company culture you want to see.


This article is based on an episode of the Virtual Vibe podcast by Bright Breaks, the platform that boosts workplace wellness seven minutes at a time. Want more insights on HR strategies for a happy, healthy and connected workforce in a work-from-home world? Subscribe to the Virtual Vibe podcast, and tune in wherever you listen to your favorite shows..

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