Benefits news you may have missed: Feb. 8-12

COVID-19 vaccine incentive trend gains steam with Kroger: One of the nation’s largest employers is turning to an incentive to encourage its workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Kroger announced it will pay a $100 bonus to any of its employees who get vaccinated against COVID-19. With a company of Kroger’s size and scope turning to incentives to encourage vaccinations, other large employers are likely to follow suit. Read more here.

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Target joins growing number of employers incentivizing COVID-19 vaccines: Target is joining a growing list of employers turning to incentives to encourage workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The retail giant announced it is providing up to four hours of pay–two hours for each vaccine dose–to hourly employees when they get their vaccine. It also will provide all workers with free Lyft rides, up to $15 each way, to get to and from their appointments if they need it. Read more here.

Health and Benefits Leadership Conference will be virtual, free: HRE’s Health and Benefits Leadership Conference, which originally was slated to be held in April in Las Vegas, will be held online May 11-13 due to the ongoing pandemic. Registration is now open and the event is free to attend. The event will go in-depth on how organizations are responding to COVID-19. Read more here.

More employers are turning to these COVID-19 vaccine incentives: More retailers are turning to financial incentives to encourage their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Instacart announced plans. Read more here.

Stress soaring among employees: More than three-quarters of employees are struggling with stress, according to a report from Grokker, and 46% of workers describe their stress levels as moderate or higher. The data is the latest to point to a troubling trend of mental health issues among employees, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rates of burnout, stress, depression and anxiety are up exponentially in the wake of the ongoing pandemic, and research indicates that employee mental health issues are only worsening as the pandemic approaches the one-year mark. Read more here.

Mayer: Don’t have a COVID-19 vaccine strategy? It’s time to make one: After nearly a year of living in a pandemic world, there’s finally some good news on the COVID-19 front: vaccines that give us a glimpse of a return to normalcy. But, of course, like everything surrounding COVID-19, it’s not easy: The rollout has been rocky at best, and skepticism and hesitation surround the vaccines. Another complication: Organizations, key in many ways to the success of the vaccines, are slow to implement a COVID-19 vaccine strategy and have yet to decide how or if they will encourage employees to get inoculated, if they’ll provide incentives for them to do so or if they’ll go further and require vaccination among workers. That’s a problem. Read more here.

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Kathryn Mayer
Kathryn Mayer is HRE’s former 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.