Benefits news you may have missed: June 8-12

From how many employers allow mid-year health plan changes to coronavirus lessons from Edward Jones’ CHRO, here are some of this week’s top stories.
By: | June 12, 2020 • 3 min read

Employers embracing mid-year health plan changes after IRS guidance: About half of employers say they will allow some type of mid-year health plan change—per new IRS guidance allowing them to do so because of coronavirus—though few are allowing employees to make changes to their core medical plans. Read more here.

5 coronavirus lessons from Edward Jones’ CHRO: As the coronavirus pandemic continues to change the workplace, HR leaders are making moves, embracing new strategies and learning valuable lessons along the way. Kristin Johnson, CHRO at financial services firm Edward Jones, is no exception. And she predicts that many of the new practices she is adopting will live on long after the pandemic. A look at five of the most important lessons Johnson has learned so far. Read more here.

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Coronavirus resource spotlight: Kaiser Permanente’s meditation app: Here’s a look at Kaiser Permanente’s new tool that aims to help people manage stress—available free of charge for Kaiser Permanente members. Read more here.

5 things to know about wellbeing and COVID-19: The coronavirus pandemic is undoubtedly touching every aspect of work and human resources—and benefits and wellbeing is no exception. The vast amount of employees are under a great deal of pressure and emotional stress, and many are turning to their employers and their benefit offerings to help them. So what are employees’ biggest wellness concerns? And are employers helping enough? Here are five important findings about those topics and more from MetLife’s annual benefits study. Read more here.

10 strategies to improve employee mental health: HR executives and other corporate leaders have been stepping up in response to the current environment. 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.

Employees taking sick days for mental health: A third of employees say they have taken a sick day because of stress, according to a survey of 1,000 employees by Aetna International. The data reveals that while employees take time off for mental health, they may not admit the reasons. This indicates that employees still don’t feel comfortable speaking up about mental or emotional health. Read more here.

‘Make employees think’ about benefits: Employers, and HR leaders in particular, rely on benefits as a way to engage, recruit and retain employees. And as much as employees acknowledge the importance of their workplace benefits, a painful truth remains: most don’t want to think about actually enrolling in them. “If you let them go to year to year to year [in the same benefits], they will. They don’t want to think about it,” Gary Robinson, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and consultant engagement at healthcare company HealthEquity, said. “But what we want to do is make people think about this.” Read more here.

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Are virtual meeting bad for mental health? A full week of virtual meetings leaves 38% of employees feeling exhausted, while 30% feel stressed, according to Doodle, a scheduling tool company. Although virtual meetings have become the norm for many companies because of COVID-19, experts warn that an overload of such meetings is hurting employee mental health and should be rethought. 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.