About this podcast
HR Trends features interviews with leading experts in the field of Human Resources. Produced by Unum, HR Trends draws from the deep bench of subject matter experts at Unum as well as industry partners and national HR thought leaders, to help listeners understand complex HR policy, best practices for compliance and new ideas for managing people. We'd love to hear from you. Email us at email@example.com.
About this podcast
HR Trends features interviews with leading experts in the field of Human Resources. Produced by Unum, HR Trends draws from the deep bench of subject matter experts at Unum as well as industry partners and national HR thought leaders, to help listeners understand complex HR policy, best practices for compliance and new ideas for managing people. We'd love to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave, the ADA and return to work
Unum employment law experts Daris Freeman and Tamika Newson join Clare Morin in the HR Trends studio to update employers on legal considerations for leave, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and other issues as employees begin returning to offices and worksites after the pandemic. Challenges from rise of remote/hybrid work: Most leave laws don’t address the complexities of remote or hybrid work. With more people working away from the company’s physical location, employers are struggling to determine which leave laws apply to which employees. Some states have provided clear guidance, while others have not. Checking with your legal counsel is the wisest course of action for making correct, consistent decisions. (1:30) With workers scattered to different cities, states and even countries since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s even more important for leave administrators to ensure that employee information is up to date. They also need to put clear parameters around their policies — most will not want to administer leave for workers living in foreign countries, for example. (5:00) ADA and vaccinations. Employers who decide to mandate vaccinations may face ADA discrimination claims from those who aren’t vaccinated. On the other hand, vaccinated employees may not feel safe returning to work with unvaccinated co-workers and may have claims of their own. (6:30) Guidance on this issue is evolving daily, so employers should stay engaged to be sure they are following the latest regulations. (8:19) Note: After this podcast was recorded, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued new guidance reaffirming that federal equal employment opportunity laws do not prohibit employers from requiring or incentivizing vaccination, provided they comply with ADA and other accommodation provisions. Return to work best practices: To help employees feel safe, employers can implement in-work accommodations such as mask requirements and six-foot spacing between desks. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have outlined some guidance in this area. (8:50) Temporary work from home can also be considered an accommodation, but be sure the basis for requiring a return to the workplace is clear. Also revisit relevant job descriptions to make clear that being in the workplace is an essential job function. Consistent practices are important. (9:58) For positions that transition to permanent work from home, formal standards for remote work should be implemented, such as requiring that employees have a dedicated workspace free of distractions. (11:05) Featured speakers Daris Freeman Assistant Vice President and Legal Counsel, Unum's Employment Law Group As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Daris’s primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Tamika Newson Assistant Vice President and Legal Counsel, Unum's Employment Law Group Tamika Newson joined Unum after 22 years of employment law counseling and litigation as a Partner in several large law firms. Prior to joining Unum, she litigated employment matters nationwide.
How employers can respond to the mental health crisis
Listen in as Dr. Philip Levendusky of the world-renowned McLean Hospital joins Unum’s Swapnil Prabha, to discuss the worsening mental health crisis in the U.S. and how innovative employer behavioral health programs can help remove the barriers to care. A continuing trend. Mental health issues have been on the rise for the past five years. [2:18] Gen Z suffering most. People aged 18 to 24 accounted for 56% of those reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder and/or depressive disorders during the pandemic. [8:21] Access is major difficulty. Inpatient psychological treatment, in short supply before the pandemic, reached critical scarcity, with some young people spending as much as seven days in the emergency room waiting to be admitted. [13:17] Stigma is continuing barrier. Employers need to take the weight off of the people in their organizations by making it clear that needing and seeking help is OK. [14:10] Digital benefits can help solve for access. By directing people with less serious issues to digital and self-help tools, innovative behavioral health programs can help with demand management. [16:30] Employer advocacy is critical. From training to policies to making sure behavioral health providers are transparent and accountable, employers have a big role to play in helping employees take advantage of the behavioral health benefits offered at work. [18:00] Returning to the workplace. Returning to work will have issues of its own, which employers can combat with clear communications, small steps and promotion of resources to help. [19:45] Additional resources: Webinar, Supporting behavioral health at work. <Previous episode Featured speakers Dr. Philip Levendusky Director of Psychology, McLean Hospital; Associate Professor of Psychology, Harvard Medical School For more than three decades, Dr. Philip Levendusky has directed and/or developed more than 30 cutting-edge clinical programs at McLean Hospital. He is recognized nationally and internationally as a pioneer of integrated cognitive-behavioral treatment systems for persons with serious mental illness. In addition, he has inspired a generation of students to achieve excellence in the pursuit of their professional careers. Swapnil Prabha Vice President, Digital Offerings, Unum With 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, Swapnil is the Vice President of Digital Offerings at Unum. You may also be interested in Webinar How employers can mitigate a looming mental health crisis Thought leaders from Harvard Medical School, McLean Hospital and Unum explore key survey findings showing how U.S. employers are reacting to complexities caused by school closures, rising mental health challenges and the potential impacts to benefits enrollment season. Watch on demand Report Why employers expect a mental health crisis this fall Survey findings reveal how employers across the U.S. are planning amid continued school disruptions, rising mental health concerns and a critically important benefits enrollment season. Read now>
Josh Bersin on 2021 benefits tech trends
The world-renowned HR thought leader Josh Bersin joins Mike Simonds, COO of Unum Group, and Swapnil Prabha, Unum’s VP of Digital Offering, in a discussion about the fundamental changes wrought by the pandemic – and how those changes are driving benefits tech trends and innovations in 2021. Post-pandemic economic boom. As we slowly emerge from the pandemic, many experts are predicting an economic boom. Signs are pointing to a dynamic economy with a lot of opportunities for businesses and HR professionals. [03:28] A greater appreciation of work. This past year, many workers experienced the stress of balancing personal and professional responsibilities from home. Yet, many people gained a greater appreciation of the value of work, finding a purpose and refuge from the pandemic, according to The Business Resilience: The Global COVID-19 Pandemic Response Study[RA1] . (08:49) The employee experience and technology. At the beginning of the pandemic, many leaders doubted the capabilities and productivity of employees working from home. A year later, there’s a completely new way of thinking about work technology and the employee experience. [10:16] Real-time integrations with HRIS platforms. Unum has accelerated work of building technology that integrates with popular HRIS platforms for a seamless experience for employers and employees alike. Intuitive technology like this helps employers overcome administration challenges and focus more on the employee experience. [12:58] Benefits are essentials. Now is the time for the benefits industry to start thinking about how to deliver a digital, consumer-like experience to employees. What was once viewed as optional benefits are now seen as essential parts of the work experience and employee productivity. (15:48) HR tech objectives. In 2021, innovations in HR technology are trying to get HR teams back at what they do best and where they have the biggest business impacts – with simplistic and thoughtful designs and solutions. (18:00) Mental health is critically important. As more employers adopt mental health programs, employers and leaders can promote mental and emotional well-being by incorporating it into the workplace culture while technology can help easily deliver access to the appropriate support and care. [20:40] Josh Bersin Global Industry Analyst, Dean, Josh Bersin Academy Josh Bersin founded Bersin & Associates in 2001 to provide research and advisory services focused on corporate learning. He expanded the company’s coverage to encompass HR, talent management, talent acquisition, and leadership and became a recognized expert in the talent market. Mike Simonds Executive Vice President, COO of Unum Group Mike Simonds is the Chief Operating Officer of Unum Group, one of The Ethisphere Institute’s world’s most ethical companies. Since joining Unum in 1994, Simonds has worked in various leadership roles and has helped lead the company’s focus on customer satisfaction and expansion into voluntary, dental and vision benefits.. Swapnil Prabha Vice President, Digital Offerings, Unum With 15 years of experience in the insurance industry, Swapnil is the Vice President of Digital Offerings at Unum. Prior to joining Unum, Swapnil spent seven years at McKinsey & Company where she was a leader in the Insurance Practice focused on Digital Services across all lines of business and Employee Benefits specifically.
Employers' critical role with COVID-19 vaccinations
The ongoing pandemic has put a spotlight on people’s physical and mental health – and on the critical role employers have in safeguarding their employees’ overall well-being. As the vaccine efforts continue across the U.S., we discuss the role employers should play in terms of the vaccination roll out. Dr. Dora Anne Mills, Chief Health Improvement Officer at MaineHealth, and Rob Hecker from Unum discuss how employers – of all sizes – can help with vaccination efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a race against time. Vaccinations are the single most important thing we can do for the health our communities right now. COVID-19 variants are emerging – some which are more contagious and sometimes more fatal. [02:00] Why employers should play a role. Vaccines are the fastest way for employees to return to some sort of normalcy and return to the office, and employers can play a critical role. Early in the pandemic, employers emerged as a trusted source of information. Encourage employees to get vaccinated when it’s available to them, as part of your organization’s commitment to employee physical and emotional wellbeing. [03:17] Make it easy. It can be difficult for some people to get vaccinated, especially if the facility doesn’t allow children or if there are long lines. Employers can make it easier by allowing time during work hours to get vaccinated. [05:14] Develop a strategic plan. Talk to experts, be flexible and rethink what you’re doing based upon what you learn. Most importantly, be transparent with everything – even what you don’t know. It’s really just about communicating, staying close to the experts, and tapping into the resources that are readily available. [07:37] It’s all hands on deck. This is the largest vaccine campaign in history. Local businesses can provide trusted nonmedical volunteers to help local clinics and healthcare facilities. Employees find it fulfilling, and it accomplishes a similar goal to end the pandemic. [14:18] Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPD, FAAP Chief Health Improvement Officer, MaineHealth Since 2018, Dr. Dora Anne Mills has served as the chief health improvement officer for MaineHealth, Maine’s largest health system. She previously served as the Maine CDC Director for 15 years, overseeing many efforts, including the development of a statewide public health infrastructure, Maine’s response to the H1N1 influenza pandemic, and the implementation of a system for chronic disease prevention, and addressing a number of environmental health issues. Rob Hecker Vice President, Global Total Rewards, Unum Rob Hecker is currently the Vice President of Global Total Rewards, responsible for Unum’s health, medical and retirement plans, well-being strategies and compensation and rewards programs. Prior to moving into his current role, Rob was the Vice President of National Client Group Services, responsible for developing client service delivery strategies for Unum’s 2000+ employees customer segment. His areas of responsibility included client management strategy, new customer implementation, premium collections, contract services and administrative management services. Rob’s previous business experience includes Vice President of Unum’s Leave Management Center, Vice President Voluntary Claims Operations and Vice President LTD Benefits. Prior to joining Unum, Rob was employed by Holiday Inn Corporations as a labor relations specialist and Director of Human Resources. An active community leader, Rob has served on the boards of the Unum Charitable Foundation, The Chattanooga Y-ME Breast Cancer organization, Chattanooga Humane Educational Society and Unum’s United Way leadership council. ]https://www.mainehealth.org/
The state of public sector benefits
The ongoing pandemic has left a huge impact on the public sector, from budget cuts to complex operational needs in state, local and municipality governments, public agencies and schools. Employee benefits has become a critical retention strategy, but also an added challenge. We talk to two benefits experts with vast experience in the public sector. Employee benefits is key to public sector’s competition for talent: Employee benefits are vital to a recruitment and retention strategy, as public sector employers compete against private sector jobs amid a wave of Baby Boomer generation retirements. [03.45] Time to catch up: Public sector employers have been slower to adopt the hardware and software that other industries have utilized – that offered a way to quickly pivot to remote or virtual work. However, public entities are now putting a lot of time and effort to implement and utilize this technology. [05:32] Going digital for virtual enrollment: The pandemic has been a rapid accelerant for the public sector to shift to virtual enrollments of benefits, including moving from paper-based methods to digital methods. [07:08] Importance of benefits education: Now more than ever, employees are paying attention to the benefits coverage they have and the coverage they need. Take the time to allow employees to understand what they’re being offered. This will cause employees to be better protected and more fully appreciate what your organization is doing for them. [09:18] Additional public sector resources: SHRM webinar on Public Sector Benefits[A3] , Governing, International Public Managers Association for Human Resources, Center for State and Local Government Excellence, and Colonial Life’s Public Sector Virtual Enrollment Guide. Donna Nixon Vice President, Pierce Group Benefits Donna Nixon is Vice President of Pierce Group Benefits. She has 26 years of experience in public and private insurance, third party administration and benefit consulting. Most of Nixon's work has focused on local governments, providing her with the expertise to provide specialized service to this industry group. The scope of her experience spans virtually all aspects of benefit administration, including marketing, customer relations, claims, market trends and underwriting. Nixon provides strategic analysis to assist clients with design and development of benefit programs, controlling costs, compliance and employee communication solutions. She has organized and led team building and leadership development sessions and has worked with several forms of governing bodies. Steven Vermette Vice President, Colonial Life Steven Vermette is a Vice President at Colonial Life. He has over three decades of experience in the benefits industry and now serves National Public Sector Sales Leader for Colonial Life. His vision and ability to identify trends has allowed Colonial Life and its clients to adapt to the ever-changing landscape. From technology to enrollment, Vermette has an acute understanding of how voluntary benefits both protect employees and empower employers to thrive. https://piercegroupbenefits.com/
How the small business benefits landscape is changing
Two founders of HR firms and industry podcast leaders – Lars Schmidt and Joey Price – talk about how businesses are adapting their wellness and benefits packages in 2021. We focus on employers with 250 employees or less and the data from a new report. Lars and Joey offer practical advice on everything from benefits communication to how sole HR practitioners can lean on a wider community, as well as the urgency of implementing HR technology and process digitization. Customize employee benefits packages: Benefits are more important than ever, and companies are starting to broaden beyond what they traditionally viewed as a benefits suite, such as student loan repayments and a new urgency on mental health. (02:26) Strive for “digital by default”: It’s time to ditch the manual processes and adopt HR technology and digital solutions – to reflect a modern workplace. (06:05) You may be overspending already: Don’t shy away from HR tech because of cost. When you account for the time spent on manual processes or creating workarounds, you might find you may already have the budget to invest in digital tools. (08:45) Survey your employees: If you’re having to cut costs due to cash flow issues, engage your employees to co-create choices. Or, survey them to determine what they find valuable. (09:54) Benefits communication is key: Articulate the tangible benefits for the employee and educate everyone on the value of the benefits. (12:45) Are you an HR practitioner of one? Reach out to your HR communities and forums online to ask questions. See what your peers are doing and leverage their expertise to bring collective wisdom into your organization. (14:09) Access the recent report: Small Business Benefit Trends Report 2021. Check out the new book Redefining HR by Lars Schmidt. Lars Schmidt Founder, Amplify and Author and Podcast Host, Redefining HR Lars Schmidt is the Founder of Amplify, an HR executive search and consulting firm that helps companies build progressive people teams and capabilities. He's spent over 20 years in the industry working in and alongside a range of leading global companies. Joey Price, MS HRMD Founder, Jumpstart:HR and Host, Business, Life, and Coffee Podcast Joey Price is an award-winning start-up CEO of Jumpstart:HR and host of the Business, Life, and Coffee Podcastbased in Baltimore, Maryland. He has spent over 12 years in the HR industry and spends much of his time solving HR challenges in the areas of workplace culture, small team HR ops, and HR tech.
Entrepreneurs and benefits planning in 2021
We speak to Scott Omelianuk, editor in chief of Inc. magazine, and Jill Sasso, Vice President of Human Resources, Governance & Programs at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) about how small businesses are shifting their benefits planning in 2021. We discuss a new small business report from Unum, how leading companies are adapting, and key insights for keeping women, in particular, in the workforce. Industries have been hit by the pandemic in vastly different ways: Roughly half of small businesses are hiring back employees, hiring new employees, the other half are needing cut hours, layoffs and furloughs. (01:44) Cashflow, well-being and business continuity are leading concern for many small businesses (03:53) People are small businesses’ most vital resource – but there’s also a much great focus on people in 2021. Lead with empathy, be nimble in your policies, and offer flexibility. (06:14) What constitutes the workplace and culture has changed during the pandemic. People are looking for the safety net they need to survive during times like these. (07:56) Focusing on your employees is going to make you an employer of choice. (11:47) To keep women in the workforce: Provide flexible options and adequate health and wellness programs. Make sure employees also getting development. And prioritize your culture. What we do now to support women, in particular, is going to have far-reaching effects for women in the workforce. (16:09) Upcoming webinar: Hear more from our speakers and Shea Treadway from Unum in a SHRM webinar on January 28, 2021. Register here. Featured speakers: Scott Omelianuk, Editor in Chief, Inc. Scott Omelianuk recently joined Inc. as Editor in Chief, where he oversees the brand’s recognition programs, events, and content, and is charged with creating new lines of business to support the entrepreneurial community. Though in the role for less than a year, he has already redesigned Inc.’s digital and print properties, launched a data product for firms looking to invest in small businesses, partnered with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a series of SMB town halls and created its breakout Best in Business franchise. Honored with Ad Age A-List and Media Vanguard awards, Scott is a sought-after speaker on entrepreneurship, marketing and branding. Jill Sasso, SHRM-SCP, Vice President, Human Resources, Governance & Programs, WBENC Jill Sasso is responsible for strategic human resource planning and alignment of human resource strategies with organizational vision and mission at the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WEBENC). In addition, she leads the strategic planning and execution of WBENC programs and oversees the WBENC Board of Directors governance functions. Jill joined the WBENC team in 2016 after serving as Senior Vice President on the leadership team of a large WBENC-certified women owned firm.
Developing an employee-centric leave program
Today’s workforce is faced with extraordinary challenges in balancing work and family obligations. Women in particular are exiting the workforce in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic to care for children and elderly family members. In this episode, the international leave and absence expert, Anna Steffeney, discusses why the employee experience is critical to leave and absence planning, why deliberate strategies are necessary for both leave and employee reintegration, and the critical need for accessible information for employees considering leave. HR departments need the tools to make information easily accessible for employees to make educated leave decisions. (4:00) There are operational considerations for employee support in a leave program, such as what is offered, how long, who is covered, and most importantly, how the programs are implemented, including expanding your existing program or launching a new one. (5:18) Employers should be deliberate in measuring the ROI of their leave offerings—including benchmarking against competitors, surveying candidates and publicizing policies—to determine how their leave strategy comes into play around the retention of current employees and the attraction of new talent. (7:14) Lengthening parental leave has a positive effect on employee retention. A global study by KPMG, commissioned by Vodafone, showed that implementing a 16-week policy could save employers $19 billion globally by avoiding the hiring and training expenses necessary to replace employees who leave. (9:10) Life events change employees and returning to work can be a jarring experience. It’s critical for employers to be deliberate in planning for leave and embracing returning employees. (11:25) Featured speaker Anna Steffeney Vice President, Digital Ventures & Transformation, Leave & Absence, Unum As part of Unum's Digital Ventures and Transformation team, Anna is primarily responsible for incubating and scaling new digital solutions for leave and absence management. She has a focus on co-creating strategy and reimagining digital leave and absence experiences. As founder and President of LeaveLogic, Anna has led the company from initiation to funding, and successful acquisition. Anna is recognized as a thought leader in parental leave policies and solutions and has been profiled by television and print media.
Fundamentals of a leave and absence strategy
Yesterday’s leave and absence management programs aren’t working for today’s workforce – or the workforce of the future. Employers face significant challenges managing employee leave and HR compliance, from evolving complex regulations, to competition for highly skilled employees and an ongoing global health crisis. In this episode, leave and absence management experts Matthew Howes of Aon and Susan Stowell and Marci Cyr from Unum explore these challenges and share the fundamentals of building a modern strategy. Key takeaways The need for companies to have a strategic leave and absence management program has increased over recent years – and only been exacerbated by the pandemic. Employees are looking for employers with comprehensive time-away programs, allowing them to meet their responsibilities at home and achieve their goals in the workplace. (02:30) Most employers are unaware of how leave programs work together as a whole system or the costs associated with these programs. As a result, many companies struggle to have a comprehensive approach or strategy, negatively impacting their balance sheets. (03:53) In today’s market, many employers are looking to solve their leave management pain points involving: (05:58) There are three different major categories to fundamentally transform a leave and absence management approach: (08:12) Leave programs are a major part of a company’s brand and corporate culture that reflect internally with employees and externally with the market. Employers need competitive leave programs for recruiting and retaining skilled employees as work-life balance continues to be a major priority for today’s workforce. (09:31) When it comes to corporate leave policies and programs, employers should take a holistic view to make sure the entire program is working efficiently and effectively – and take a more proactive approach to leave strategy planning and understanding the different components of paid leave. (10:29) Matthew Howes Vice President, Time Away & Life Solutions Practice, Aon Matthew Howe is an expert in leave, life and disability for Aon’s Time Away and Life Solutions practice, serving underwriting, marketing, implementation and renewal efforts for clients. Susan Stowell Vice President, Absence Management Offering, Unum Susan Stowell drives the strategic vision for new enhancements to Unum’s leave and absence portfolio, guiding investments that improve the user experience with a modern, digital toolset. Marci Cyr Assistant Vice President, Leave Transformation, Unum Marci Cyr has spent the past two years focused on transforming Unum’s approach to leave and absence management. More resources: Why employers expect a mental health crisis this fall Read our three-part, online report to see how employers across the U.S. are planning amid continued school disruptions, rising mental health concerns, and a critically important benefits enrollment season. Episode 21: Paid leave during a pandemic: The state response HR compliance is more complex than ever, particularly with leave and absence management. In this podcast episode, you’ll get an overview of paid leave laws, both pre-pandemic and those being signed into law amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Paid leave during a pandemic: The state response
HR compliance is more complex than ever, particularly with leave and absence management. In this episode, Daris Freeman and Ellen McCann give an overview of paid leave laws, both pre-pandemic and those being signed into law amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Key takeaways: Prior to the pandemic, many states and jurisdictions had existing employer-mandated paid leave laws. (01:25) States and local jurisdictions have stepped up to provide paid leave for workers due to COVID-related reasons . These fall into two key areas: 1) Protections for employees in organizations with more than 500 employees that are not subject to the federal FFCRA and 2) States, such as California, that have passed broader legislation that applies to all employers and employees. (04:30) States and jurisdictions are passing laws to provide paid leave to those impacted by COVID-19. This is an active space with nearly one new law appearing every week. (05:30) Colorado has passed three laws in one: 1) The federal FFCRA equivalent for 2020 for larger employers and 2) a broader paid leave provision that has two components: a) paid leave for employees or family members who have an illness and school closures, and b) up to two weeks of additional leave if there is public health emergency. (05:55) There is also an unpaid leave dimension to this, as several states have amended existing laws to provide job protected, unpaid leave. Employers need to understand any applicable unpaid leave obligations, as well as paid leave obligations, to be compliant with all employment laws and regulations. (07:55) Best practices: At Unum we have policies that address state-level paid leave laws where employees work. We have supplemented that with a COVID-19 specific policy that incorporates all the different jurisdictions and states that have specific COVID-19 requirements for leave. (09:57) Laws change almost weekly. One of your best resources are state and city webpages, as these are always up to date. Consult with your own legal counsel also to make sure you are capturing all the obligations and remain in compliance with all applicable laws. (11:13) Daris Freeman Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum's Employment Law Group As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Daris’s primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Daris partners with the operation and their clients to develop compliant solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Ellen McCann Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum's Employment Law Group Ellen McCann is an acclaimed national speaker on leave management issues, including the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). She is also a certified trainer for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) and continuing education (CE) credit. More resources: Ep. 16: Best practices in COVID-19 return-to-work planning Melissa K. Peters, Special Counsel at Littler Mendelson, shares key insights from Littler’s COVID-19 Return-to-Work Survey of 1,000 U.S. employers with best practices and key strategies to help employers build and implement a return-to-work plan. Read now Webinar: Leave management in a post-pandemic world As employers update or expand their leave benefits for the new future formed by the coronavirus pandemic, what key best practices should they keep in mind? Watch now
How employers can support employee mental health this fall
A new survey shows that with the ongoing pandemic and complexities caused by school closures this fall, employers are expecting a rise in mental health challenges for their employees. In this episode, two world-renowned mental health experts from Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, Dr. Kerry Ressler and Dr. Lisa Coyne, join Unum’s employee benefits and well-being strategy expert ,Robert Hecker, to discuss the survey’s findings and how employers can support their employees. Key Takeaways Employers are expecting a big rise in mental health issues. 85% of employers surveyed are very or somewhat concerned about their employees’ mental health or wellness needs. (02:21) The stress people are experiencing is not new. However, the pandemic and other environmental factors have made these issues more acute, and employees are exhibiting higher levels of stress. The challenge is figuring out the right action to take to support employees in a meaningful way. (3:28) Employers can encourage healthy behaviors and preventive measures that will help keep most people healthy and resilient. Additionally, employers should watch for behaviors and symptoms that suggest professional help is needed. (5:39) Parents with children who are different ages or have behavioral health issues will be likely to experience even more draining demands. All parents with children will be at risk of burnout. (9:30) Employers should help parents be aware of resources for their or their kids’ mental health and consider offering flexible work schedules. (10:23) Additional resources: Register for an upcoming SHRM webinar: How employers can mitigate a looming mental health crisis COVID-19: mental health resources: https://home.mcleanhospital.org/covid-19-resources How to deal with ongoing stress caused by working from home: https://www.mcleanhospital.org/news/how-deal-ongoing-stress-caused-working-home How mindfulness helps families cope with stress Kerry Ressler, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer, McLean Hospital and Professor, Harvard Medical School Lisa Coyne, Ph.D., Founder and Senior Clinical Consultant of the OCD Institute for Children and Adolescents, McLean Hospital, and Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School Robert Hecker, Vice President, Global Total Rewards, Unum More resources: Why employers expect a mental health crisis this fall Read now Leave management in a post-pandemic world Watch now
The uncertain future of FFCRA leave
A New York federal court recently struck down parts of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL’s) rule interpreting employee paid sick and extended FMLA leave components of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). Two national employment law experts, Jeff Nowak and Ellen McCann, discuss the court’s decision and its implications for the future of FFCRA leave – and employers. Key takeaways On April 1, 2020, when the scope of the pandemic first became apparent, Congress passed the FFCRA. DOL quickly issued regulations for implementing this new federal statute. [1:23] The State of New York filed suit against DOL, claiming the agency’s regulations 1) unlawfully denied FFCRA leave to otherwise eligible employees and 2) exceeded the DOL’s authority. As a result of the proceedings, the New York federal court invalidated several DOL regulations interpreting the new federal law. The requirement that employees be scheduled to work in order to take a leave of absence. [2:52] The part of the intermittent leave provision requiring the employer’s permission when an employee is caring for a child due to public health concerns, such as COVID-19-related closures of schools or unavailable childcare. [7:30] DOL’s expansive definition of healthcare provider and leave entitlement exemptions. [9:44] The timing of when employees must submit leave documentation to their employers. [15:20] The scope of the court’s decisions remains uncertain, but one thing remains clear: DOL must address the court’s decision. That means employers should continue to monitor the situation and look for DOL updates. [17:07] Employers can also reduce compliance risks by examining their leave exemptions, application of intermittent leave, stances on work availability, and current leave administration and documentation. [18:39] Jeff Nowak, Shareholder, Littler Mendelson Jeff Nowak is a shareholder for Littler Mendelson, P.C., the world’s largest employment practice representing employers. He is a recognized leader on FMLA and ADA issues, helping employers develop comprehensive strategies to achieve compliance with employee leave and accommodation issues. Ellen McCann Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel at Unum’s Employment Law Group Ellen McCann is an acclaimed national speaker on leave management issues including FMLA and ADA. More resources: Ep. 12: Practical advice for return-to-work safety Listen now Webinar: A roadmap for navigating COVID-19 leave laws Watch now Ep. 16: Best practices in COVID-19 return-to-work planning. Ep 16 link: https://www.unum.com/employers/resources/hr-trends/episode-16-return-to-work-best-practices
Virtual enrollment in a COVID-19 environment
With the social-distancing needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may be wondering what benefits enrollment will look like in 2020. For many employers, virtual enrollment methods are replacing face-to-face meetings. According to a recent employer survey, virtual enrollment is expected to double this year. In this episode, benefits experts Shawn Ferguson and Richard Shaffer provide insights for employers. Top takeaways Before implementing a virtual enrollment strategy, make sure your organization has an online platform and a plan to engage employees on this platform. [03:45] Mandatory group enrollment meetings can be held virtually using a variety of methods. These meetings are important for educating employees about their benefits offering, including additions or changes to coverage. [04:02] Employees are more likely to research and learn about their benefits when an active decision-making process is applied. [05:01] Present a comprehensive benefits package in a logical order, and make sure employees have a consistent experience in all benefits communications and across platforms. [05:33] Employees will have very specific questions this enrollment season, as the pandemic has made workers more worried about their financial fragility. [08:00] Virtual tools have seen rapid adoption since the COVID-19 outbreak. Some insurance carriers and brokers have retooled and reinvented benefits communication and enrollment to approximate a face-to-face experience in a virtual ecosystem. [09:03] For the average American worker, benefits enrollment and selection is going to be the one of the most significant financial decision they make over the course of the year. [13:21] Featured speakers Shawn Ferguson Senior Vice President, Voluntary Benefits, Acrisure Shawn is the SVP of Voluntary Benefits at Acrisure, one of the world's top 10 insurance brokerages and the fastest growing in the world over the past six years. He is responsible for implementing successful voluntary benefits strategies for Acrisure across the U.S. For the past 15 years, Shawn has worked solely in the voluntary benefits and enrollment segments of the industry. He oversaw the voluntary benefits and enrollment division at Alltrust, where he worked closely with brokers and account managers to make voluntary benefits part of the agency’s culture and strategy. Shawn attributes his success to using a carrier-agnostic approach to find the best solutions for each individual client. Richard Shaffer Senior Vice President, Field and Market Development, Colonial Life Richard Shaffer is the Senior Vice President of Field and Market Development for Colonial Life. He oversees corporate strategy and planning, business development and the teams leading the company’s enrollment, client management and retention programs. Richard has held various positions throughout his 22 years with the company. Prior to joining the company in 1998, he worked as a family therapist — his knowledge of family dynamics has helped his approach to employee benefits communication and enrollment. Richard holds a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from East Carolina University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University. More resources How the pandemic is reshaping employee benefits Listen now How the pandemic has revolutionized benefits – and the workplace Read the report
How the pandemic is reshaping employee benefits
Unum surveyed 400+ employers in early June to ask how the pandemic was impacting their benefits, leave and enrollment planning. We found that big changes are coming — and they could be permanent. In today’s episode, Sharlyn Lauby, Rob Hecker and Ellen McCann discuss the survey findings, and how the pandemic is fundamentally reshaping the workplace and employee benefits. Top takeaways 56% of employers will allow flexibility to work from home even after the pandemic. Employers are starting to ask paradigm-shifting questions like, “What does work from home 2.0 look like? What are the implications for our culture and how we innovate?” [02:05] Paid leave is on the rise: 44% of employers probably or definitely will expand paid leave benefits in the coming year. Employers have learned that unpaid FMLA leave was insufficient to meet the magnitude of the COVID-19 emergency. [06:00] More than half of employers are changing their benefits plan. As the pandemic proceeds, we can expect behavioral health issues to emerge around anxiety, depression, issues of isolation, elder or child care, and financial stresses. Employers are starting to plan, by developing programs and services to help employees better cope — and even thrive. [08:11] Mental health claims and leave requests may be on the rise. Employers should not feel that “it’s business as usual now.” They should understand that, while employees may have been able to juggle things for the last few months, they may not be able to do that for long. Employers have to remain flexible and nimble. [12:33] Read the report here. Featured speakers Sharlyn Lauby President, ITM Group Inc., author of HR Bartender Sharlyn Lauby is the author of HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a Florida-based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent. Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was Vice President of Human Resources at Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and the workplace. Sharlyn launched HR Bartender to provide a “friendly place for everyday workplace issues.” It’s been recognized as one of the Top 5 Business Blogs Read by HR Professionals by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is the author of the best-selling books “Manager Onboarding: 5 Steps for Setting New Leaders Up for Success” and “The Recruiter’s Handbook: How to Source, Select, and Engage the Best Talent.” Robert Hecker Vice President, Global Total Rewards, Unum Rob Hecker is currently the Vice President of Global Total Rewards, responsible for Unum’s health, medical and retirement plans, well-being strategies and compensation and rewards programs. Prior to moving into his current role, Rob was the Vice President of National Client Group Services, responsible for developing client service delivery strategies for Unum’s 2000+ employees customer segment. His areas of responsibility included client management strategy, new customer implementation, premium collections, contract services and administrative management services.
Best practices in COVID-19 return-to-work planning
Episode 16 (June 16, 2020) Best practices in COVID-19 return-to-work planning Melissa K. Peters, Special Counsel at Littler Mendelson, shares key insights into the law firm’s recent COVID-19 Return-to-Work Survey of 1,000 employers across the U.S. She discusses best practices and key strategies for employers to keep in mind as they build and implement a return-to-work plan. Top takeaways The CDC has been the default guidance throughout this time, but businesses should also carefully follow and adhere to any regulations or orders from the state, county or city where they are located. [01:55] Employers have a key concern around leave of absence entitlements. Summer brings childcare issues and this will likely impact employees who need to return. [03:41] The “general duty” clause is the primary OSHA regulation employers are following. OSHA requires employers to provide a safe and healthy environment and to protect against a “serious hazard” — i.e., exposure to COVID-19. [05:25] Employers can keep rigorous notes on all the measures they are taking to keep employees safe — keeping contact tracing logs, cleaning logs, and so on. They can also consider implementing a daily walkaround. High-hazard industries do “site walks,” which can be as simple as walking around the office or facility to make sure all the social distancing measures are being put in place, with an eye on potential lawsuits or liabilities. [07:17] Learn more about the Littler Mendelson survey report here. Featured speaker: Melissa K. Peters Special Counsel at Littler Mendelson With an in-depth understanding of the regulations that apply to safety and health in the workplace, Melissa K. Peters assists employers in complying with these requirements and provides counsel surrounding workplace incidents. Her primary focus is on California Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) matters. Previously, while at Cal/OSHA, she regularly advised on enforcement and investigation-related matters and represented the Division in administrative appeals and third-party litigation arising from workplace fatalities. She worked closely with Cal/OSHA’s High Hazard, Research and Standards, Labor Enforcement Task Force, and Elevator units, and handled numerous cases involving workplace violence, heat illness and bloodborne pathogens.
How can leaders build inclusion, equity and diversity?
We have pivoted our program, this week, to address the situation unfolding in the U.S. right nowand the social injustices that have been part of our society for centuries. This is a traumatic time for people of color in the workplace, and it requires all of us to engage. How can we lead by example in inclusion and diversity? What courageous conversations can we or should we be having? Top takeaways The three Es of inclusion are: 1) Equitable: Be fair, 2) Engaging: Be inviting, and 3) Exemplary: Be an example. Having a diverse organization is not enough; leaders must be inclusive when providing opportunities to contribute and succeed. [03:50] Reverse mentoring is a powerful way to spark courageous conversations within organizations. [08:08] Leaders and managers need to face uncomfortable conversations. To allow breakthroughs, be vulnerable, and allow teammates the psychological safety they need to learn and take risks. [09:09] Be mindful of the trauma people are going through in the workplace. Ben-Saba Hasan, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer of Walmart, equates mental trauma with physical trauma. If we can make a psychologically safe space at work, we can also create a space for healing. [10:19] Lean into this and take ownership. Employees are watching and expecting accountability. [11:56] Start today, take small steps. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but those small decisions will make all the difference. [16:36] Resources: Start with your employees: Look internally for opportunities like reverse mentoring, building employee resource groups, or reaching out to new people to engage with. CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion Code Switchpodcast by NPR Inclusion: Diversity, The New Workplace & The Will to Change, Jennifer Brown Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin The Hate U Give,Angie Thomas What If?: Short Stories to Spark Diversity Dialogue, Steve L. Robbins Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality, Richard Kluger Featured speakers Wade A. Hinton Vice President, Global Inclusion and Diversity at Unum Wade Hinton is passionate about leadership as a force for good, for all. He’s on a mission to make leaders, organizations and communities appreciate the power of inclusion. Whether it’s embedding inclusion into the operations of a global company with more than 10,000 employees or serving as the chief legal officer for a city leading the nation in innovation, Wade loves working with organizations to help them address strategic issues that impact people and performance. Wade is recognized as a leader locally and nationally for his work as a lawyer, business leader and diversity champion. Tim Arnold President & CEO, Colonial Life and Executive Vice President, Voluntary Benefits, Unum Group Tim Arnold was named executive vice president, voluntary benefits, and president, Colonial Life in February 2020, responsible for shaping an enterprise-wide approach to voluntary benefits while continuing to lead Colonial Life. Arnold previously served as executive vice president, president and chief executive officer, Colonial Life.
Mental well-being in the age of COVID-19, Part 2
What can HR organizations do to help employees with their emotional well-being? In Part 2 of our conversation, two wellness experts — Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, an award-winning behavioral science professor, clinician and author, and Unum’s Laurie Mitchell —discuss how organizations can help inspire a culture of resilience. Top takeaways Have you listened to Part 1 yet? Listen here. Before the coronavirus pandemic, there were many concerning indicators around mental health globally. [02:21] Research is showing that resilience happens within a community. Organizations can create “a culture of health thinking and health giving,” where each person feels they are cared for. [04:06] In the Strong Minds at Work Report published by Unum last year, a disconnect emerged. When asked “what mental health resources are available at your company,” [06:56] Role modeling can be a powerful way to educate about mental health. [12:21] Mental health first aid training programs, by organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), are another way to provide support for the workforce. [13:22] Resources: Book:Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today's World, 50% off affinity discount for podcast listeners. Select the "Buy from us" button and type in code “Resilience2020.” Course:Cultivating Resilience Through Crisis, free and on demand during May 2020 Report (PDF download): Mental Health in the Workplace, May 2020 Update Active Minds Caring for Coronavirus Anxiety, a project by Shine Harvard/McLean Hospital, mental health resources American Society of Suicide Prevention Featured speakers Dr. Kristen Lee Behavioral science professor, clinician and author Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, known as “Dr. Kris,” is an award-winning behavioral science professor, clinician and author. As the Lead Faculty for Behavioral Science at Northeastern University, Dr. Kris’s clinical, research and teaching interests include individual and organizational well-being and resilience. She is the author of RESET: Make the Most of Your Stress, winner of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards Motivational Book of 2015, and Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today's World. She is the host of Mentalligence Radio and her Ted talk, The Risk You Must Take,has over 309,000 views. More resources: Ep. 13: Mental well-being in the age of COVID-19, Part 1 Listen now.
Mental well-being in the age of COVID-19, Part 1
Dr. Kristen Lee, Ed.D., LICSW, is an award-winning behavioral science professor, clinician and author. To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Month, we bring together Dr. Lee and Unum’s Laurie Mitchell for a two-part discussion about mental well-being and resilience. Key takeaways The World Health Organization has classified “burnout” not just as a mental health issue but as a workplace condition. The uncertainty of the current pandemic is making burnout even more of a risk. [02:17] In resilience research, the term “protective factors” is used to explain practices in our daily lives that nourish and edify us. Many of these routines have been disrupted during the coronavirus pandemic. [04:47] Despite the challenges, modern brain science shows we are a species wired for adaption. We have a lot within our control that can help us, such as nutrition, hydration, proper sleep and getting out in nature. [06:25] Be aware of your “reserve capacity.” We need what are called “break rituals.” Scientifically grounded self-care is about deliberate attention to mind and body. All these actions have a cumulative effect. Make deposits of self-care into your own bank to sustain yourself through complexity. [09:12] Employers should encourage this personal self-care, but also make sure employees are aware of the resources available to them, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs), counselling, apps that can support traditional care, and behavioral health teleservices. [14:52] Resources: Book: Mentalligence: A New Psychology of Thinking: Learn What it Takes to Be More Agile, Mindful and Connected in Today's World, 50% off affinity discount for podcast listeners. Select the "Buy from us" button and type in code “Resilience2020.” Course: Cultivating Resilience Through Crisis, free and on demand during May 2020 Report[A1] (PDF download): Mental Health in the Workplace, May 2020 Update Active Minds Caring for Coronavirus Anxiety, a project by Shine Harvard/McLean Hospital, mental health resources American Society of Suicide Prevention On May 26, tune in to Part 2 of this episode: Organizational approaches to mental well-being. Dr. Kristen Lee Behavioral science professor, clinician and author Laurie Mitchell Assistant Vice President, Global Wellbeing & Health Management at Unum More resources: Report: Mental Health in the Workplace, May 2020 Update Ep. 9: Improving financial wellness during COVID-19 Listen now Get in touch: email@example.com (207) 200-6685
Practical advice for return-to-work safety
Jeff Nowak is one of the leading employment attorneys in the United States and the author of the highly regarded FMLA Insights blog. He joins Unum’s Ellen McCann to walk employers through key considerations for maximizing health and safety when building a return-to-work strategy. We discuss everything from creating a health assessment, to flexibility, masks, and the importance of building a robust communication plan. Key takeaways Health assessments are a non-invasive way of having a conversation with your employees about their ability to return to work. You can ask about symptoms, positive tests, their proximity to or whether they are caring for someone with symptoms or a diagnosis. You can also ask about recent travel. [01:42] You have many important decisions to make: Are you going to do assessments before employees come back to work, or before they set foot on the property? How will you administer tests? How can you do this in a way that most protects your employees’ privacy? [04:00] You should expect some apprehension from your employees. Remember, this event is the first of its kind in a lifetime. Accept that fact — and engage in discussions with your employees. Let employees know what you’ve done to ensure a safe environment and share this in your communication plan. [06:12] Even though people are going back to work, social distancing is still required. Very few workplaces are going back at 100% capacity. This means employers may be able to be more flexible in offering remote work options than in past. [09:16] From a practical and legal standpoint, it’s important to follow state or local requirements when it comes to face coverings or masks. For employees who can’t wear masks, engage in a discussion of what you could do to help them perform their job. [11:21] Prepare a robust return-to-work communication plan. Focus on the physical spacing of the workplace and what’s required of the employee in terms of masks, hand washing, social distancing, and so on. [13:52] Check out Jeff Nowak’s blog, FMLA Insights,for more great guidance. Jeff Nowak, Shareholder, Littler Mendelson Jeff Nowak is a shareholder for Littler Mendelson, P.C., the world’s largest employment practice representing employers. He is a recognized leader on FMLA and ADA issues, helping employers develop comprehensive strategies to achieve compliance with employee leave and accommodation issues. He is also the author of the highly regarded FMLA Insights blog, which has earned him entry into the ABA Journal’s Blogger Hall of Fame. Nowak is a highly sought-after speaker on FMLA/ADA issues, most notably serving on the faculty of the National Employment Law Institute (NELI) and a frequent speaker for the Disability Management Employer Coalition (DMEC). More resources: Ep. 11: State and municipal legal considerations for COVID-19 return-to-work Listen now Ep. 10: The ADA, COVID-19 and return-to-work planning Listen now Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org (207) 200-6685
State and municipal legal considerations for COVID-19 return-to-work
Legal experts Ellen McCann and Daris Freeman break down state and municipal considerations when planning return-to-work amid the COVID-19 crisis. Many states are in the process of opening up for non-essential work and have issued some strict guidelines around how employers should go about bringing employees back. Certain cities and counties also have their own requirements. Be sure to do your homework – and check out the resources we link to below. Key takeaways Make sure you’re up to date with all the government mandates or requirements. States have various laws that will govern how you bring employees back. And don’t stop just to look at the state; certain cities and counties have their own requirements. [01:38] Keep other considerations in mind. For example, the Warn Act requires employers to give certain notices to employees who are going to be laid off. There are state versions, as well. These laws have been changed in the face of COVID-19. [03:18] Look at changes in the Workers Comp arena for essential businesses. [04:28] What are the wage and hour requirements that will apply to you as you bring employees back? Are you obligated under state law to pay for personal protective equipment? Are you obligated to pay employees to do health screenings at home or when they get to your worksite? Know the wage and hour implications. [04:59] Several states and individual jurisdictions have passed leave laws specific to COVID-19. Many are in response to what happened at a federal level — for example, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Jose passed laws related to larger employers not subject to the new federal law. Some are specific to certain industries. [06:31] Many of the states that have existing paid sick laws have issued guidance or amended existing laws — for unpaid leave as well as paid sick leave. That guidance provides additional leave that was not provided before. Employers need to look into these laws and know how they can be applied. [08:02] Unum has state leave law updates on our website. Law firms are also putting up free summaries. Ellen McCann references the resources that the law firm Littler Mendelson has created for employers, viewable here. [09:41] Daris Freeman Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel, Unum As Assistant Vice President, Legal Counsel for Unum, Ms. Freeman’s primary responsibility is to support Unum’s Absence Management Center, which administers FMLA, paid leave, ADA and over 200 complementary state laws. Ms. Freeman partners with the operation and their clients to develop compliant solutions for their unique absence management challenges. Most recently, Ms. Freeman’s time has been dedicated to the paid leave landscape, implementing solutions for customers and working with state agencies on development of their programs. More resources: State Leave Laws Updates Read more Ep. 8: How does COVID-19 impact the ADA? Listen now