What’s on HR’s mind? Check out the top benefits stories from this week

Employers are eagerly adopting new benefits to continue supporting their employees into the new year. Providing virtual support will be a big trend in 2021, as employers offer programs for caregivers and employees struggling with addiction. Our annual Rising Star Awards has a new look this year to include candidates from the HR benefits space. If you know a Rising Star, the application deadline is January 25.

See more of our top stories below:

Revamped Rising Stars to honor new class of leaders in HR and benefits advising

Employee Benefit News and Employee Benefit Adviser have revamped our annual Rising Star Awards to include the best young talent in the human resources space and best young benefits advisers addressing the challenges of a new era of work.

If you would like to nominate a Rising Star please fill out this online form by Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.

Read more: Revamped Rising Stars to honor new class of leaders in HR and benefits advising

Digital tools can help employees struggling with addiction

As employees continue to grapple with mental health and substance abuse issues during COVID-19, digital tools can be a critical component in recovery, while reducing healthcare costs for employers.

To help employees struggling with substance abuse, making treatment accessible should be a top priority for employers, says Dr. Yusuf Sherwani, founder of Quit Genius, a digital substance abuse clinic. His platform seeks to destigmatize addiction and offers digital cognitive behavioral therapy, telemedicine options and access to clinical care teams to prescribe medications proven to assist in addiction recovery.

Read more: Digital tools can help employees struggling with addiction

5 strategies employers can implement to help support COVID vaccine uptake

While there has been a lot of positive news recently about the COVID vaccines, there are varying reports on the public’s concern and willingness to take it. That hesitation, along with vaccine access, will determine how quickly life returns to normal. We will need more than 70% of the population vaccinated to get back to a pre-pandemic society, and employers can make a significant difference in helping achieve that. By enabling employee access to vaccines, employers can help end this pandemic more quickly.

Therefore, even if a company is not in the healthcare space, it will likely need a strategy to deal with issues related to the COVID vaccines for its employees. Business leaders should look at this moment as an opportunity to play an important role in what will be considered one of history’s largest and most rapid inoculation efforts.

Read more: 5 strategies employers can implement to help support COVID vaccine uptake

Teachers are in danger of losing their savings as COVID-19 persists

COVID-19 has impacted the financial well-being of employees across almost every industry, but teachers have been hit particularly hard, driving many to consider leaving the profession entirely.

Twenty-seven percent of teachers are considering leaving their jobs because of COVID-19 challenges like financial insecurity, health and overwork, according to data from Horace Mann Educators, an insurance provider for teachers and educators.

While other industries have had the option to work remotely during the pandemic, many teachers and educators have been forced to continue working in-person, potentially putting themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19. But for many teachers, they have no choice: missing work means missing valuable paychecks.

Read more:Teachers are in danger of losing their savings as COVID-19 persists

New benefit provides seniors with ‘grandkids on demand’

During COVID-19, social isolation has taken its toll. For employee caregivers, a new benefit can help ease the burden of providing companionship for their loved ones during this challenging time.

Papa, a digital elderly companionship and health platform, is now being offered as an employee benefit on a national scale, the company announced on Tuesday. The platform connects seniors with younger companions — called Papa Pals — who can help with everyday tasks like transportation, light household chores, navigating health benefits, doctors’ appointments, prescription refills and grocery delivery. But most importantly, the founder says, they provide friendship.

“We also call them ‘grandkids on demand,’” says Andrew Parker, founder and CEO of Papa. “It’s a perfect symbiotic relationship because the senior and pal are getting so much by participating. We find they get to learn a lot from each other.”

Read more: New benefit provides seniors with ‘grandkids on demand'