In this HR News Roundup, we offer links to important benefit surveys, articles on how HR and jobs are being changed by the pandemic, looming lawsuits, and more news, including a stress break with items from the lighter side.

2020 Employer Health Benefits Survey

The Kaiser Family Foundation results issued the results of its Benchmark KFF Employer Health Benefit Survey. which encompassed 1,765 randomly selected, non-federal public and private firms with three or more employees. The full survey is available at the link. Key results include:

  • Average Family Premiums Rose 4% to $21,342 in 2020
  • Workers this year are contributing $5,588 toward the cost of family coverage, with employers paying the rest.
  • 83% of covered workers have a deductible in their plan
  • For workers with a deductible, the average stands at $1,644

Firms’ Employee Benefit Offerings Reflect Pandemic-Reshuffled Priorities
Chris Taylor, Insurance Journal

So what else might this new normal for employee benefits look like? It can mean back-up support for childcare, as we have seen from firms like CVS Health, Target and Ally Financial. It might mean telehealth options for employees, as Boeing, Chipotle and Circle K are offering. Or it might mean no-cost mental-health sessions, as Starbucks has rolled out.

And yes, it might mean hard cash to help workers through this lean period. Many companies, such as Facebook, Kroger, Walmart and JPMorgan Chase, have instituted special bonuses for workers.

Introducing Resilient HR: A New Way To Run Your Business
Josh Bersin

From the very start of the pandemic, business leaders and HR teams have been in shock. Who is impacted? When do we bring people back to the workplace? What are our new work policies? And how do we quickly develop the new communications, work protocols, training, and wellbeing support to keep our people working and the business thriving?

The sheer number of issues is massive, and the pace of change is relentless. As we’ve seen in our Big Reset research, companies have been going through four cycles of change – often in parallel: React (figure out what’s going on); Respond (take immediate actions to reduce harm or help teams); Return (come back to a new work environment or back to the office); Transform (redesign jobs, services, and customer offerings for the new world).

A ‘tidal wave’ of Covid-related workplace lawsuits could be on the way
Robert Kuznia, CNN

“You are going to see that number [of lawsuits] grow exponentially over the next six months to one year,” said Joseph Seiner, a law professor at the University of South Carolina with expertise in employment matters. “I think you are on the front end of a tidal wave.”

Seiner, a former appellate attorney with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said there is no good historical analogy for how this health crisis could impact employment law. The closest comparison, he said, is the Great Recession of 2008, when there was a “huge jump” in employment lawsuits as jobless rates went up.

The nature of the coronavirus-related disputes vary, from allegations of wrongful death as a result of unsafe working conditions to wrongful termination for trying follow governors’ orders to accusations that employers are using Covid-19 as a pretext for terminating employees for discriminatory reasons.

Hybrid Work Is the New Remote Work
Boston Consulting Group

This state of affairs presents leaders with two challenges: how to manage remote working conditions amid the uncertainty of today, and how to prepare for and optimize the hybrid working models of tomorrow, in which fully in-person and remote work will be two ends of a fluid spectrum of options. The former is a necessity; the latter, an opportunity. Hybrid work models, done right, will allow organizations to better recruit talent, achieve innovation, and create value for all stakeholders. By acting boldly now, they can define a future of work that is more flexible, digital, and purposeful.

Adventures in Alternative Work Arrangements
Michele Benton, Harvard Business Review

Unfortunately, alternative work is a bit of a ruse. Most employers offer it, usually as part of their inclusion programs to attract quality talent (you!). But, often it’s an empty gesture as few employees ever use these options. Research in the U.S. and Europe confirms consequences we already know: using these programs means certain career death.

We desperately need these options. Not on paper, but in practice in our lives. With no yellow brick road to follow, we must find our own way forward. Here are four steps to making an alternative work program work for you.

Why Leaders Need the Courage to Pay Attention to Emotions in the Workplace
Pamela Puryear, Zimmer Biomet – HR Daily Advisor

Now, home and work life have collided. With lines of separation blurred, keeping emotions out of business can be an impossible task. The best leaders know team members are people first and perform best when their humanity is recognized and valued. But, we also can’t always put aside work to attend exclusively to people’s emotional needs. Instead, we need to make space for employees to express their feelings and create a supportive and connected emotional culture.

Related: The Pandemic Has Made Compassionate Leadership Almost Mandatory

ESI EAP Ad listing benefits

HR News Roundup Quick links

HR News from the Lighter side

Are you still working remotely? Do you miss your colleagues? Are things too lonely and quiet in your workplace? Try this handy site: The Sound of Colleagues. You can pick which soothing background noises you’d like to hear and how loud you want them.

Too much stress? If you long for a peaceful world where everybody gets along and global problems seem a million miles away, you might want to follow the social networks for the Squirrelwood Equine Sanctuary, more popularly known on social media as m.crouton, populated by Crouton, a charming bovine and his gaggle of barnyard friends, like Ruby “Roo” the pig, Mojo the white donkey, Luscious the goat, and more winsome creatures. More than 50,000 twitter followers turn out for the short Nightly Crouton video clips, when the crew often gets minty muffin snacks before bed. Follow on Twitter and Facebook. In addition to being fun, it’s for a good cause.  The Squirrelwood Equine Sanctuary is a 92 acre farm in the Hudson Valley, home to 35 resident horses and countless other creatures from chickens and pigs to dogs and cats. It’s a sanctuary for rescued and abused animals and it offers an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy Program for Veterans and their families.

Related: “All animals, except man, know that the principal business of life is to enjoy it.”

Finally, In the women continue making progress on the path to full work equality department, we have progress. After 90 years of the iconic little green army men toys being exclusively male, BMC Toys has now introduced a line of little green plastic army women in various poses.

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