Ep 231 – How COVID-19 Changes Your Company’s Employee Benefits

COVID-19 has changed our world in many ways. We are thinking about remote work, virtual onboarding, work from home policies, WFH accessibility, and also employee benefits. I have seen a ton of resources and information on so many of these topics except in the area of how COVID-19 has changed employee benefits programs. The IRS has published some employer benefit program guidance as of recent that I wanted to draw our listener’s attention to. I’m talking with Chad Wilkins, President of HSA Bank. This podcast is sponsored by WorkMarket, an ADP Company.

 

Episode 231: How COVID-19 Changes Your Company’s Employee Benefits with Chad Wilkins (@hsabank

 

Chad Wilkins serves as an Executive Vice President of Webster Bank and President of HSA Bank where he is responsible for leading the organization and its people toward sustainable growth well into the future. Chad joined HSA Bank in 2014, bringing with him more than 25 years of experience in the banking and health insurance industries. Chad has a consistent history of achievement in sales leadership, relationship management, product management, P&L leadership, and employee engagement throughout his roles as President of The Wilkins Group, his own consulting practice specializing in healthcare and financial services, Chief Executive Officer of Optum Health Financial Services, and Senior Vice President, Commercial Large Markets at US Bank.

HSA Bank empowers you to make the most of your healthcare dollars by simplifying the health account experience and utilizing cutting edge technology and innovation to help you make sure you and your employees are on your way to a healthy financial future. Their commitment has propelled HSA Bank to become one of the nation’s largest providers of Health Savings Accounts. I’m excited to have Chad from HSA Bank on the podcast.

 

What’s Changed for Employers in Employee Benefits Since COVID-19?

 

My answer is A LOT which is why I wanted to have Chad on this podcast interview. He breaks down some changes that are incredibly important to HR leaders, but I felt haven’t got the media attention or sharing in HR circles they deserved. Those include the extension of the IRS 2019 tax filing, HSA contributions, employee benefit plan changes for loss of coverage, dependents, and spouses not to mention dependent care with FSA. Chad gets us up to speed quickly on some of those changes including one that I think we should be sharing right now with our employees about FSA’s.

Earlier this May, the IRS clarified in an updated FAQ document that employers that qualify for the federal employee retention tax credit may treat health expenses paid to furloughed employees as qualified wages. Health insurance costs are also included in the tax credit for small employers impacted by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. This is just a short summary of the updates and we share more details in Chad’s podcast interview.

 

Best Practices to Communicating Employee Benefit Changes 

 

With our world and workplace feeling like a moving target, it’s easy for HR leaders and employees to feel overwhelmed and out of touch as the same time. Chad shares best practices to communicating with your employees about these benefit changes during this uncertain time. It’s not just about educating the employees Chad says but also talking regularly with leadership and management. He says HR leaders need to be providing benefit training to front line managers and leaders so they can help reinforce HR’s benefit communciation. Employees have a lot on their plate right now personally and professionally which is why consistently is key.

One benefit program that Chad encouraged listeners to take advantage of right now and is telehealth. He says the CARES Act was passed allowing agencies to use hundreds of over-the-counter products and things like cold and flu medications and for the first time, menstrual care products without a prescription. This is a pretty significant change. HSA plans now cover telehealth services before employees reach the deductible. This is a great option as employees  can go out and purchase telehealth services outside of their high deductible plan without impacting the eligibility of an HSA.

Chad says HSA Bank has a host of resources available to help HR leaders ensure that information is consistent. We’ve linked to their resources at the bottom of this podcast interview transcript.

 

Conclusion

 

The pandemic has brought about so many changes for HR including employee benefits programs and those changes by the IRS not to mention the dependcare changes that we need to be talking to our employees about and educating our HR and leadership teams who field employee questions like these day to day.

One good thing coming out of this crazy time is the rise of telehealth and a move toward virtual benefit plan selection and onboarding. I remember the days of monthly or weekly benefit plan meetings and hours spent in location breakrooms fielding employee questions prior to the annual enrollment deadline. These changes give everyone more flexibility not mention the ability to better scale how we engage, share resources, and support our employees.

Thank you for joining the Workology Podcast sponsored by WorkMarket, an ADP Company. This podcast is for the disruptive workplace leader who’s tired of the status quo. This is Jessica Miller-Merrell. Until next time, visit workology.com to listen to all our episodes of the Workology Podcast.

Connect with Chad Wilkins on LinkedIn

 

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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast.

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