Benefits news you may have missed: June 22-26

From 10 ways to improve employees’ mental health to how to think about open enrollment during coronavirus, here are some of this week’s top stories.
By: | June 26, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Starbucks begins mental health training: In its latest move to address mental health in the workplace, Starbucks is making mental health training available for all U.S. assistant store managers, store managers and above, in addition to all non-retail employees. The coffee chain announced this week that training will be available during the next month and “is intended to provide [employees] with a resource that can help them listen for, recognize and respond to signs of mental health and substance use issues and provide resources available to their teams.” Read more here.

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COVID-19 strategy 101: How to improve mental health: A focus on mental health always makes good business sense. But in the time of coronavirus, as well as the protests taking place nationwide, the practice is becoming more vital than ever. Employees are experiencing higher rates of mental health issues and struggling with feelings of isolation, loneliness and stress—and many are looking to their employer for help. So what are some of the best ways to provide mental health support to employees? Here’s what HR leaders and other industry experts had to say. Read more here.

Why Postmates is turning to education perks for COVID relief: Postmates is turning to a new benefit to help some of its workers during the coronavirus pandemic: free educational assistance. The food-delivery company says it’s partnering with online education provider edX to provide employees with access to education certificates and virtual career guidance, for free, as part of its COVID-19 relief efforts. The benefit is being offered to Postmates Fleet, a workforce of independent contractors who deliver on behalf of Postmates, the company says. Read more here.

How to think about open enrollment during coronavirus: Here are three things you can do to make returning to work easier and three more tips for benefits enrollment in the new business environment. Read more here.

Time off requests on the decline due to COVID: Fewer employees are requesting time off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from HR software company Namely. But managers—and HR leaders—may be wise to push employees to take time off, especially as employees struggle with managing their time and deal with unprecedented amounts of stress during today’s uncertain environment. Read more here.

Employers embracing emotional health as part of wellness: Nearly all employers now include emotional and mental health programs in their corporate well-being platforms, according to new data from Fidelity Investments and Business Group on Health. Although the survey was fielded prior to the coronavirus pandemic and some employers may be adjusting their wellbeing strategies going forward, the results may be more applicable to the current workplace environment, the researchers say. Read more here.

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Finding the wellbeing silver lining of COVID-19: The survey from the Business Group on Health and Alight reiterates a common theme found in other research—that there is plenty of room for growth in wellbeing efforts, and employers that prioritize aspects of wellbeing are better suited to help employees and their company in the process. Read more here.

1 in 4 workers at risk for serious COVID-19 illness as employers open up workplaces: Nearly one in four workers is at high risk for serious complications from COVID-19 if infected, according to new analysis from Kaiser Family Foundation, signaling that employers may want to embrace remote work options longer than expected and better prepare for bringing workers back to the workplace. 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.