Benefits news you may have missed: June 29-July 3

From how COVID is changing voluntary benefits to wellbeing tech tips, here are some of the week’s top stories.
By: | July 3, 2020 • 2 min read
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

How voluntary benefits are changing due to COVID: As leader of Willis Towers Watson’s voluntary benefits practice, Mark Hebert has seen “tremendous” growth in voluntary benefits in the last several years. But with the new reality of COVID-19—and its associated shifting priorities and financial challenges—there’s no question that “things are really different” when it comes to those perks, he says. “Voluntary benefits are playing a different role than they were; employers are focusing on different challenges than they were just a few months ago,” Hebert said during an HRE webinar last week. Read more here.

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Employers split between PTO vs. paid leave: Employers are virtually split on the leave they offer employees, according to a survey of 457 U.S. employers by XpertHR. Nearly half (49%) offer traditional paid leave plans—where all leave is in separate categories, such as sick and vacation—while 44% offer a paid time off plan—where all or most leave is in a single PTO bank. What does this mean in the COVID-era? 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.

Pandemic changes workplace—and benefits—likely forever: The doors of America’s businesses are starting to swing open—but the workplace inside may never be the same again. Employers and employees alike face continually evolving challenges to where, when and how they work. And a Unum survey of more than 400 U.S. employers in early June shows more changes are coming for the workplace, including benefits and enrollment. Here are some highlights. Read more here.

Boese: Tech tips to give wellbeing the attention it deserves: Columnist Steve Boese dives into employee wellbeing to share some ideas about how HR leaders and organizations can work to ensure the wellbeing of their teams in these trying times. Read more here.

Employers giving flexibility to at-risk workers: Employers are giving special consideration to at-risk employees who are older or have a medical condition and whose jobs cannot be done remotely. Two-fifths of employers (44%) have accommodated at-risk employees by creating more flexibility, and 50% more are planning or considering such actions, according to a new survey of employers from consulting firm Willis Towers Watson. Read more here.

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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.