Benefits news you may have missed: Jan. 25-29

From how employers are addressing racial health inequities to why a vaccine mandate could spark a backlash, here are some of the week’s top stories.
By: | January 29, 2021 • 3 min read

Employers must ‘lean in more diligently’ on addressing racial health inequities: Even before COVID-19 hit, Black and brown employees were already experiencing many health inequalities: Compared to white workers, they’re more likely to experience serious complications from conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, asthma and cancer, and they are more apt to die during childbirth. And now in an ongoing pandemic, Black employees are facing additional health disparities: Data shows they are more likely to get COVID-19, be hospitalized and die from the disease. They also have more mistrust in vaccines and are more reluctant to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Add in recent social and racial unrest and protests that have taken a toll on many Black employees’ mental health, and employers have a lot of work to do in helping Black employees. Read more here.

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More employers planning to encourage COVID-19 vaccines: More data is indicating that employers plan to encourage their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19. A new survey of employers conducted by the Midwest Business Group on Health finds that 71% of employers plan to provide employees with education about COVID-19 vaccines, while 56% plan to promote the vaccine to their workers. Read more here.

Why an employer vaccine mandate could spark worker backlash: Desperate to get employees to buy into the COVID-19 vaccines so they can get back to business, employers are mulling whether to require their workers to get vaccinated against coronavirus. But new data shows that it could be problematic if they do. A survey of 1,000 employees from Perceptyx finds that a surprising 43% of employees say they would not only disapprove of their employer forcing them to get vaccinated, but they would consider leaving their organization if the vaccine was a requirement. Read more here.

Target extends COVID benefits, hands out another bonus: Target is giving employees their fifth COVID-19-related bonus, amounting to a cost of about $200 million for the company, the retailer announced. All hourly team members—including seasonal hires—will receive a $500 bonus, while frontline leaders will receive bonuses ranging from $1,000-$2,000. The employer also is extending coronavirus benefits into 2021 to help team members and their families navigate the impact of the pandemic. Read more here.

Soundbite: ‘Don’t skip’ annual exams, screenings: As the pandemic causes a significant amount of workers to delay or avoid regular care, one industry insider is urging employees to reconsider. “During this time, it’s very challenging to get into your physician or get your annual physical exam. But it’s super important,” Pam Hannon, retirement and healthcare leader at GE Healthcare, said at the Midwest Business Group on Health’s Employer Forum on Wellness, Wellbeing & the Workplace, held virtually. Read more here.

Employees concerned about side effects of COVID-19 vaccine: About seven in 10 employees are concerned about side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, according to a survey of 1,000 consumers from wellness provider Welltok. The survey is the latest to highlight the hesitance and concerns some employees feel about getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Read more here.

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Here’s what employees are looking for from their employers: Among the many lessons of COVID-19 is this: Employees are increasingly looking for help from their employer on ways to make their lives better. Roughly half of U.S. employees want more help from their employers to save for retirement, balance their work and life issues, and get the most value from their employee benefits, according to new research out from Willis Towers Watson. Read more here.

Workers plan to resign over employers’ handling of COVID-19: Two out of five employees plan to resign based on how their company handled the pandemic, according to a survey from SilkRoad Technology, a global software and services platform, and OnePoll. The findings indicate a disconnect between executives’ view of their effort to support employees through the pandemic and what workers have experienced. 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.