NEWS & UPDATES

October 2023 | Issue 36

edHEALTH President and CEO to Continue as VCIA Board Chair

This fall, our own Tracy Hassett was endorsed for and reappointed as Board Chair for The Vermont Captive Insurance Association (VCIA) for a second term. Continuing in this role enables Tracy to see through the strategic planning now underway to enhance VCIA's value. You can read more here.

edHEALTH Supports Prevention and Education

Early detection and personal advocacy are key to being on top of one's health, especially when it comes to successful outcomes from breast cancer.


To learn more, and find free resources for your organization, visit:


nationalbreastcancer.org


komen.org


cancer.gov/types/breast

edHEALTH Member-Owner School Receives 2 Wellness Awards this Fall

Congratulations to the College of the Holy Cross!


Holy Cross is one of the 100 Healthiest workplaces in America according to Healthiest Employers, a trusted source dedicated to rewarding organizations that are wellness leaders across multiple industries.

 

Since starting at Holy Cross in June 2021, Chief Human Resources Officer Marymichele Delaney and her team have worked hard to ensure faculty and staff have a wide range of resources available to support health awareness. She notes: "We are thrilled that Holy Cross is recognized as one of the healthiest workplaces in America. This award belongs to our entire workforce for engaging in initiatives that promote health and well-being. Providing easy access to the right tools matters. Whether working with our third-party administrator to offer virtual and in-person health awareness offerings, finding digital self-serve tools to share, or participating in edHEALTH's annual walking challenge, we are committed to building community and health at Holy Cross."


The College of the Holy Cross also recently won the Worksite Wellness Council of Massachusetts' WorkWell MA Award for 2023, which recognizes a school's commitment to their employees and efforts to help attract and maintain top talent.

Calendar Corner for edHEALTH Member-Owner Schools

About Our New edHEALTH 101 Sessions

Thanks to feedback at our June annual member-owner meeting, we now offer monthly edHEALTH 101 sessions for member-owner school staff. These virtual meetings take place monthly, every second Thursday from 10 - 11 AM.


We designed these sessions specifically for current edHEALTH schools. They offer a refresher on how edHEALTH interacts with our schools and provide an opportunity for us to introduce edHEALTH to any new employees at a member-owner school. You can sign up now for our next session on November 9th.


If you are looking to learn more about joining edHEALTH, you can connect with our Vice President Nancy McConaghy to answer questions and provide additional information.

Updated Behavioral Health Templates in the Portal

We recently updated our behavioral health one-page flyer templates. Schools can customize these flyers to include their specific EAP information while also sharing the most up-to-date offerings from their TPA.


Please visit the Plan Design Information section of the edHEALTH portal to find the updated versions.

What do you want to learn and read here?

If you have any ideas on topics you'd like for us to cover in this newsletter, we want to know. Our goal is to report on subjects that matter to you and your organization. Please share any and all comments with Lisa Barnstein. Thank you.

Guest Spotlight: Creating Inclusive Employee Benefits: A Blueprint for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month. In support of its 2023 theme of Advancing Access and Equity, we feature an informative blog from our partners at Spring Consulting Group, an Alera Group Company. In it, Consultant Grace Giannattasio and Senior Vice President Teri Weber share tips on how to create and maintain an inclusive employee benefits package.


In today’s diverse and dynamic workplace, fostering a culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic business necessity. One critical aspect of this commitment involves designing employee benefits packages that ensure fair and equitable treatment for all employees, regardless of age, gender, income, education, geography, or any other characteristics. In this article, we will explore how employers and HR teams can enhance their DEI efforts through inclusive employee benefits packages.

 

Conduct a Comprehensive DEI and Benefits Assessment

To create a benefits package that promotes DEI, it’s essential to start with a thorough assessment of your organization’s current practices and culture. You may want to consider:

  •  Benchmark current programs through surveys, focus groups, data collection, industry tech and other tools to evaluate current pain points and employee trends.
  • Collect and analyze demographic data on age, gender, income, education, and other relevant characteristics to understand representation and disparities.
  • Team up with subject matter experts like our actuaries, data analysts, or clinical pharmacy team to understand utilization and what is driving your claims costs, as this will give you a picture of the different demographics and health issues represented in your plans.
  • Review existing health plan designs through different economic lenses based on your employees’ salary ranges, considering factors like coverage levels, deductibles, and co-pays.

 

Offer Flexible/Voluntary Benefits

One way to promote DEI in your benefits packages is by providing flexibility. Recognize that employees have different needs and circumstances. Consider offering a range of options to level the playing field, such as flexible work hours, remote/hybrid work opportunities, or voluntary benefits packages, allowing employees to select benefits that align with their individual requirements.

  • Implement flexible work arrangements, such as flextime, earlier/later hours, or telecommuting, allowing employees to balance work and personal responsibilities.
  • Introduce voluntary benefits such as disability insurance, hospital indemnity insurance, commuter benefits, etc., which allow employees to select benefits that fit their lifestyle and cater to their unique needs.
  •  Provide wellness days, caregiver leave or additional paid time off for employees to use as needed for personal reasons, including family responsibilities.

 

Address Healthcare Disparities

Healthcare benefits are a crucial part of any employee benefits package. To ensure equity, take steps to address healthcare disparities. Consider the following:

  • Offer health insurance plans that include coverage for diverse healthcare needs, such as mental health services, transgender healthcare, and preventive care.
  • Ensure that health plan networks include a wide range of healthcare providers to accommodate different geographic locations and healthcare preferences.
  •  Promote regular health check-ups and screenings through wellness programs, with a focus on educating employees about available resources.


Support Family and Caregiver Needs

Recognize that employees may have diverse family structures and caregiving responsibilities. To support DEI in your benefits package:

  • Provide paid parental leave that covers all caregivers, including adoptive parents, and consider extending the leave duration for parents who give birth.
  • Implement flexible scheduling options or remote work arrangements for employees caring for children, aging parents, or individuals with disabilities.
  • If the budget allows, consider stipends or other benefits related to childcare or eldercare services.
  • Review current employee leave trends and industry patterns to identify what types of leave and support employees need most.

 

Encourage Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellness is a critical aspect of employee well-being. Consider these steps to enhance financial equity in your benefits:

  • Offer retirement plans with automatic enrollment and contribution matching to promote retirement savings for all employees.
  • Provide financial education and counseling services to help employees better manage their finances and plan for their future.
  • Consider offering income protection benefits, such as short-term and long-term disability insurance, to safeguard employees against income loss due to an unexpected illness or injury.
  • Provide student debt relief and education support resources to help employees of all backgrounds enhance their educational background without financial stress.

 

Promote Professional Development

To ensure DEI in career growth opportunities, invest in professional development benefits:

  • Establish mentorship programs that match underrepresented employees with experienced mentors who can help guide their career growth.
  • Offer tuition reimbursement or scholarships for further education or job-related certifications, with a focus on supporting employees from diverse backgrounds.
  • Create leadership development programs that actively seek out and nurture talent from underrepresented groups, ensuring equitable access to advancement opportunities.

 

Raise Awareness and Foster Inclusivity

Create a culture of inclusivity by:

  • Conduct regular DEI trainings/webinars for all employees to increase awareness of unconscious bias, microaggressions, and ways to promote inclusivity.
  • Celebrate cultural and religious holidays and observances through inclusive events, workshops, or cultural competency training. Also, consider floating holidays that employees can use at their leisure to celebrate holidays meaningful to them.
  • Establish a clear and confidential reporting system for employees to report discrimination, harassment, or bias incidents, with a commitment to investigating and addressing such concerns promptly.

 

Monitor and Adjust

Regularly review and assess the impact of your DEI-focused benefits initiatives. Solicit feedback from employees and adjust your benefits package as needed to address evolving needs and challenges.

  • Continuously collect and analyze data on employee satisfaction, turnover, and the utilization of benefits to identify areas where adjustments may be necessary.
  • Engage in regular dialogues with employee resource groups (ERGs) or diversity councils to gain insights and gather feedback on DEI initiatives.
  • Stay informed about evolving legal and industry standards related to DEI in benefits and make necessary updates to your benefits package accordingly.


By conducting this recommended process, employers can proactively enhance DEI in their employee benefits packages, fostering a workplace culture that values diversity and promotes equitable access to opportunities and resources for all employees. Championing DEI efforts in benefits also often leads to greater outcomes in engagement, recruitment, and retention.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com.

4 Industry Trending Topics

Each month, we share a few timely industry-related updates with you. We think these articles are worth a read.


Biosimilar Competition Erodes Humira’s Market Share; Amjevita Leads the Pack (ajmc.com)


Providing more digital experiences is a must for next gen workforce, study finds (BenefitsPRO)


Why Harvard, Cleveland Clinic are turning to TikTok for mental health education (beckersbehavioralhealth.com)


The Art of the 15-Minute Meeting and How to Run One (WSJ)

Want to learn more about the many benefits of edHEALTH?
Call Nancy McConaghy at 1.866.692.7473 ext. 702 or send her an email.

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