Benefits news you may have missed: Nov. 2-6

Employees stressed over election uncertainty? Here’s how to help. Employees were already dealing with a perfect storm of anxiety and stress: COVID-19, social unrest and anxiety leading up to the election have all taken their toll. And now, with the election still not decided post-Election Day, stress levels for many workers are rising even further. “Realizing there isn’t an answer here one way or another is almost worse,” says Andrew Shatte, chief knowledge officer and co-founder of meQuilibrium, a digital coaching program that aims to build employees’ resilience. Read more here.

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Employers step up to offer Election Day benefits: Thanks to a new push from scores of employers around the country, American workers this year have more opportunity to get involved in the election process. Election Day is not a national holiday, though some states provide some form of voting leave. But this year there has been a sharp increase in the number of employers offering employees paid time off to vote as well as to volunteer to help get people registered to vote, staff polling locations and more. Read more here.

IRS announces 401(k), FSA contribution limits for 2021: The IRS isn’t increasing employee contribution limits for 401(k)s or flexible spending accounts for 2021, the agency said last week. Limits will remain the same with employees being able to defer up to $19,500 into a 401(k), 403(b) and most 457 plans at work. And for 2021, the dollar limit for employee contributions to flexible spending accounts, made pretax through salary reductions, remains unchanged at $2,750. Read more here.

Paid leave, minimum wage among 2020 election winners: Former Vice President Joe Biden v. incumbent President Donald Trump: Although they are the headliners in the 2020 election, employers and HR leaders also have been looking a little further down-ballot in several states as voters made decisions that will affect workplace policies. Here’s a look at a few that might affect employers. Read more here.

Employees looking for help as pandemic increases financial stress: Employee financial stress has doubled since COVID-19 began, according to new data. The number of individuals reporting high levels of financial stress more than doubled from 11% pre-pandemic to 27% since the crisis struck, a new survey of retirement plan participants from John Hancock Retirement finds. While only 44% of participants reported experiencing financial stress prior to the pandemic, the number grew to 67% following the outbreak. Based on new financial realities— including roughly 28% dipping into their emergency savings and 19% increasing credit card balances since the beginning of the pandemic—only one-third of survey participants feel their situations will improve in the coming year. Read more here.

Here are 9 key lessons from HR Tech: With COVID-19 prompting HRE’s annual HR Technology Conference & Exposition® to go virtual for the first time ever, it’s no surprise that the pandemic—and how it’s changing all aspects of the workplace—was the most popular topic of conversation during the four-day event. Industry experts, employers and analysts all agreed the global crisis has rapidly changed the market, the HR profession and employee expectations—and there’s no turning back. Read more here.

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What to think about when taking a global approach to benefits: There’s been massive globalization in the use of tech in HR, says Chris Wakely, executive vice president of Benify. And in the benefits realm, that’s no exception. “Giving our employees a digital experience is no longer a nice to have; it’s a must have,” he said during a session at HRE’s HR Technology Conference & Exposition. “It’s all about making sure everybody understands our total value proposition—what is it we are offering people? All this information tends to sit in loads of different places. This is an opportunity to put it all in one place.” Read more here.

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Employers are making mental health strides. Here’s why they shouldn’t let up: Employees are showing signs of improvement in their mental health, yet they remain significantly at risk for depression and general anxiety due to COVID-19, according to Total Brain’s latest Mental Health Index. Worse yet, experts caution that employees’ mental health will decline going into the fall and winter months as stresses from the election, the holidays and colder weather exacerbate issues. Read more here.

During COVID, holiday gift-giving can be HR’s ‘time to shine’: Undoubtedly, COVID-19 will force many employers to abandon their traditional holiday parties this year, prompting some HR leaders to shift their attention to employee gifts. What types of gifts can better connect remote workers to each other and the organization while helping to build the company’s brand? Read more here.

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