Curating the week in wellness, January 18th-22nd: Biden’s first executive orders, New rules on wellness incentives, and more

The week’s essential content and fresh industry pickings for those dedicated to employee well-being.

By Robby Brumberg      @robbybrumberg      

Greetings, wellness pros!

On the heels of Wednesday’s historic inauguration, hope is in the air.

The pandemic will continue to take a severe toll on daily life in the weeks and months ahead. However, we believe better, brighter days are ahead.

We hope you enjoy this week’s links and find them relevant, useful and uplifting. As always, please get in touch with any ideas, suggestions or feedback on how we can serve you better.

1. Biden gets right down to business.

President Biden signed a flurry of executive orders that wellness and HR pros should monitor and keep employees abreast of. He signed actions related to the country’s COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout, foreclosure moratoriums, “pausing” student loan payments, and workplace racial inequities, to name a few.

Biden has also proposed “richer health premium tax credits.” Read more on how Biden administration policies might affect your work.   

2. Paying employees to get the vaccine?

As NPR reports, grocers such as Aldi, Trader Joe’s and Dollar General have pledged to compensate employees for getting inoculated. Aldi is offering “two hours of pay for each of the two vaccine doses,” while Instacart is providing a “$25 stipend for eligible workers and contractors.”

Before implementing a similar scheme, be aware of the EEOC’s proposed new regulations regarding “de minimis incentives” for participation in wellness programs.

3. Which wellness trends are hot (or not) in 2021.

A Wellable report finds: “employers are investing most in mental health (88%), telemedicine (87%), stress management/resilience (81%), mindfulness and meditation (69%), and COVID-19 risk intake/wellness passport programs (63%).”

As for what’s trending downward, ““Health fairs (60%), free healthy food/stocked kitchens (54%), biometric screenings (53%), on-site fitness classes (48%), and gym membership reimbursement (38%) all ranked highest in terms of the percentage of employers expecting to invest less.” 

4. Creating a more equitable health plan.

To increase equity, inclusion and wellness efforts, and to achieve better health outcomes, tailor your plans to suit your unique workers. That includes analyzing social determinants of health to determine well-being offerings, according to Benefits Pro.  

5. A pulse survey… on your wrist?

The BBC reports on a new mood-monitoring bracelet for remote workers, called a Moodbeam, “which links to a mobile phone app and web interface, has two buttons, one yellow and one blue. The idea is that you press the yellow one if you are feeling happy, and the blue one if you are sad.”

Moodbeam’s co-founder touts the tech this way: “Businesses are trying to get on top of staying connected with staff working from home. Here they can ask 500 members: ‘You OK?’ without picking up the phone.”

6. Underrated ways to brighten dark days.

All Work shares seven ideas to bolster mental health and beat the winter blues, including listening to birdsong, cultivating indoor plants, and taking a virtual health retreat.

7. One easy way to boost financial wellness—and retention.

Employee Benefit News shares how Noodles & Company teamed up with financial app Even to give its employees “on-demand pay,” a move that’s helped employees save more cash and avoid predatory loans. The company has seen sharp increases in employee retention and loyalty as a result. 

8. How to make your wellness program soar.

Think Advisor lists six factors that can make or break your initiatives, which include providing a one-stop shop for chronic conditions, personalizing guidance for individual health needs, and maximizing technology to mitigate access barriers. 

9. Supporting well-being through performance management.

Limeade espouses the importance of communicating expectations, meeting stress with compassion, celebrating achievements, and sharing plans for self-care. (Limeade also shares six nice ways to show remote employees some love.)

10. Enshrining hybrid work.

HR Dive notes that many companies, such as Google, are gearing up to make hybrid work a permanent aspect of workplace strategy. Are you prepared for a flexible future? If not, your engagement, retention and morale could suffer.