In the wake of soaring COVID-19 rates and the deadliest season in the pandemic, TIAA is offering all of its U.S.-based employees at-home COVID testing.
The financial services firm is giving some 14,000 employees access to at-home COVID-19 testing, at no cost to them. Through TIAA’s partnership with Premise Health, a workplace health and patient engagement company, individuals can request an at-home COVID test, administer it themselves and submit the results to a lab for processing. Afterward, they can schedule a virtual visit with a physician to discuss their result, also free of charge.
The benefit is also available for employees’ immediate family members who are covered in the company’s medical plan.
Testing is not required, but is meant to “provide peace of mind during the pandemic,” says Sean Woodroffe, the company’s senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer. “Paramount to our ‘value our people’ principle is to ensure that we remain vigilant in attending to the needs of our associates to remain safe and healthy.”
TIAA decided to roll out the benefit in wake of the “increasing transmissible rates of COVID-19 across the country,” Woodroffe says. The firm, which moved most of its workforce remote in the wake of the pandemic, has been encouraging its employees to stay home and wanted to provide a safe option for testing that didn’t require leaving the house and potentially exposing themselves or others to the virus, he says.
The benefit was rolled out in mid-December, and 455 tests were ordered as of Jan. 1, the company says. HR has not placed a limit on how often employees can get tested using the new benefit.
Scores of employers have enhanced or rolled out employee benefits in an effort to help them get through the pandemic and its associated challenges. At-home COVID-19 testing has been a rarer benefit offering, though has been offered to some employees by companies including Apple and Kroger.
TIAA’s at-home COVID testing benefit is the latest perk the company has turned to in the wake of the pandemic. The firm also revamped its caregiving benefits by significantly expanding backup child- and eldercare support for all of its associates and adding an employer contribution to its dependent-care flexible spending account. TIAA employees now have access to enhanced backup care programs—up to 60 visits per associate each year, with a $100 per day reimbursement for out-of-network care. Prior to the pandemic, TIAA offered employees 20 days of backup care per child, per calendar year. Those benefits kicked in Jan. 1.
“We believe [enhancing benefits] is the right thing to do, and it has a direct correlation to enhanced engagement of our associates,” Woodroffe told HRE in November.
Last year, TIAA also gave all of its employees a $500 reimbursement for any home-office expenses as the company moved the majority of its employees remote due to COVID-19. It has also placed a big focus on mental health, consistently telling workers to utilize available resources and benefits to help reduce stress, as well as reminding them to take breaks and practice self-compassion.
Helping employees through the difficulties of COVID-19 should be the priority of HR professionals, Woodroffe said.
“We have to be nimble, we have to be responsive, we have to be proactive and we have to embrace this notion of radical flexibility in terms of how associates are working in this environment.”