Benefits news you may have missed: August 10-14

From a rare pet adoption assistance benefit to more employers embracing remote work, here are some of the week’s top stories.
By: | August 14, 2020 • 4 min read
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A ‘tail’ in improving employee wellness: pet adoption assistance: The Zebra, an Austin-based insurance comparison website, this year rolled out an extremely rare benefit: covering expenses up to $300 annually for employees adopting a new cat or dog into their family. The company says the pet adoption benefit pays big dividends in employee morale and wellbeing—especially during the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has not only resulted in pet owners spending significantly more time at home with their pets, but it’s prompting an exponential increase in pet adoptions. Read more here.

Why embracing long-term remote work is ‘the right thing to do’: More employers are keeping their workers remote until at least early next year in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Apple, Facebook, Insider/Business Insider and Uber are among the employers that recently announced workers will not have to return to the office until next year, joining a growing number of companies that are extending their remote work plans for the foreseeable future. Experts say that’s a good thing. Read more here.

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Why the pandemic isn’t all bad for the workplace: To be sure, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a number of challenges for the workplace. But the situation has prompted positive changes as well, from enhanced leadership and more focus on employees to providing proof that remote work can succeed, says Andrea Goodkin, executive vice president of human resources consulting at HUB International. They are changes she hopes will continue post-pandemic. Read more here.

Why empathy is the newest trend in benefits: Amid challenges from the pandemic and racial tensions, HR leaders are tasked with designing benefits that meet their workforce’s unique needs. Read more here.

How HR is becoming the heart of the organization: The pandemic has given HR executives elevated key roles in their organizations and a prominent voice amid turmoil, but they’ve also become an important source on how to treat employees, carry on the culture and lead the way in a time when employees are collectively experiencing more upheaval to their personal and professional lives than ever before. Read more here. Read more here.

COVID driving anxiety over retirement: COVID-19 is driving employees’ anxiety about long-term retirement savings and prompting more to believe they’ll have to retire later than planned because of the tumultuous environment and volatile economic climate, according to Charles Schwab. But employers, and HR leaders in particular, can help employees ease anxiety. Read more here.

What the pandemic is teaching us about benefits: From the importance of wellness to the shortcomings plaguing employer plans, here are four lessons we’ve learned so far from COVID-19. Read more here.

Employers’ strategy for getting employees healthy during COVID: virtual fitness: While the coronavirus pandemic has put a spotlight on other aspects of wellbeing, notably mental and financial health, a handful of employers are making sure physical health stays in the spotlight, too. Pinterest, Best Buy, Pfizer and more employers are looking to get employees moving—from home. Read more here.

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Employees quitting over childcare needs: Here’s how many employers say they’ve lost employees due to their children’s education needs during COVID—and what it means to HR leaders. Read more here.

Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s benefits editor and chair of the Health & Benefits Leadership Conference. She has covered benefits for the better part of a decade, and her stories have won multiple awards, including a Jesse H. Neal Award and honors from the American Society of Business Publication Editors and the National Federation of Press Women. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Denver. She can be reached at kmayer@lrp.com.