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HRExpress - February 2021

February 2021    

In this Edition ...

Benefits • Health & Wellness • Retirement Savings  • Education Opportunities  

Special Announcement

State Employees Support One Gift Program

State employees pledged $157,299.16 to Iowa charities for 2021 during the annual One Gift campaign last fall! The Department of Administrative Services sent the first donations for 2021 on February 9.

DAS receives many thank-you notes and emails from participating charitable organizations, expressing gratitude for donations made by State employees. 

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 2021 One Gift campaign - and thank you to the One Gift Liaisons, who helped promote the campaign in their respective departments.

Together, we can make a difference!

State of Iowa Benefits

Managing Your Health Benefits Is Easy With myWellmark®

myWellmark® is a personalized website featuring the tools, resources, and insights you need to help manage your health care spending and live a healthier life. Wellmark offers a personalized easy-to-use, self-serve digital experience on any of your devices. With myWellmark, you will be able to:

  • Access benefit information specific to your health coverage option.
  • Find a doctor or provider in either the Iowa Choice (Blue Access) or National Choice (Alliance Select) networks.
  • View detailed claims information, complete with a status tracker and cost details
  • Review quality of care and patient reviews for in-network providers.
  • See the formulary to check the Tier of medications and if there are lower cost alternatives available.
  • Estimate the cost of care for procedures and services before you go.
  • Get helpful well-being content, news, and relevant special alerts.
  • Download a mobile app complete with one-touch fingerprint and facial recognition logins (if device supports).

Not registered yet? Get started at using your Wellmark ID card.

Is Sick Leave Conversion For You?

Do you have lots of banked sick leave? State of Iowa employees may elect to convert that sick leave into vacation hours through the sick leave conversion process. In order to convert sick leave hours to vacation leave hours, you must: 

  • Be a permanent employee, with a minimum of 30 days (240 hours) of accumulated sick leave.
  • Have not used sick leave or family care leave during the previous calendar month.

Conversion rates are based on your sick leave balance and the number of hours you work per week. For example, if you work 40 hours per week,* the conversion rates are:

Sick Leave Balance

Conversion Rate

 240 hours to 750 hours sick leave 

12 hours of sick leave are converted into four hours of vacation.

751 to 1,500 hours sick leave

Eight hours of sick leave are converted into four hours of vacation.






 If you work less than 40 hours per week, please contact your Human Resources Associate (HRA) to discuss your individual situation.

Please note sick leave will NOT be converted if:

  • Your accumulated sick leave is less than 240 hours in the pay period when the conversion is made.
  • You used sick leave in the prior month.

If you  have additional questions, please contact your agency’s Human Resources Associate to learn more about sick leave conversion.

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Health and Wellness

Voluntary Vision Insurance: Open Enrollment Ends February 28

Time is running out! Act now if you want to enroll for voluntary vision insurance. Open enrollment ends February 28, 2021, with elections effective April 1, 2021. The State offers after-tax payroll deductions to pay your vision insurance premiums directly to the vendor. Information about the voluntary vision coverage is available at

Recognizing Chronic Stress and What You Can Do To Reduce It

There’s no doubt about it: 2020 was a long, stressful year. Unfortunately, chronic stress isn’t just an inconvenience - it can eventually lead to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. This year, resolve to learn the early warning signs so you can feel better faster.

Common Signs of Chronic Stress

  • Irritability, sadness, anger 
  • Lack of energy 
  • Difficulty relaxing or quieting your mind, trouble concentrating 
  • Feeling out of control 
  • Sleeping or eating too much, or not enough 
  • Headaches, muscle pain, chest pain, upset stomach 
  • Loss of interest in activities you enjoy, avoiding friends and family 

When you start to feel your earliest symptoms of stress, be sure to take care of yourself. Eat well, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Take time to relax. Consider using your benefits from Wellmark® Blue Cross® and Blue Shield® and the State of Iowa to find someone you can talk to. You can use Wellmark’s Provider Finder tool to search for providers near you, or you can access Doctor On Demand® to get talk therapy and medication management from the comfort of home.


Source:Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. For more information, read the Wellmark article in its entirety

Free Health and Wellness Seminars Offered Online

On-demand online seminars covering various health and well-being topics are available from the State’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at Use Company Code: IOWA and click on e-learning for a list of available online seminars.

Online seminars may be viewed from your computer or any other internet-enabled device during work time if scheduling permits and your supervisor approves. Seminars are free of charge, with the most recent offerings accessible on the available dates listed below.

  • Available now: Setting Goals for Your Future - Learn to strategically set short-term and long-term goals to help you succeed in all areas of your life.
  • Available March 16: Planning for Success - Feeling overwhelmed? Explore the secrets behind being more organized and efficient to help ease the load.

EAP also offers confidential resources to help employees and eligible family members address challenges which may impact job performance, affect well-being, and take a toll on overall health. EAP services are provided at no cost to employees and eligible family members. For more information, additional EAP resources, visit the DAS Employee Assistance Program web page.

COVID-19 Resources

As a reminder, DAS Human Resources provides information and resources on its COVID-19 Resource webpage. Bookmark to keep it handy for future reference. 

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Retirement Savings

NEW Financial Fitness Resources

Expand your knowledge and financial fitness through the Iowa Insurance Division’s Save4Later program, now offering financial literacy resources for State employees, retirees, and their families. This free website offers educational information on a wide range of financial topics - from planning your retirement to helping teens with budgeting, saving, and understanding student loans.

Now is the perfect time to up your financial game and start planning for the future you want.

Visit the State of Iowa employee portal
Enter your email address, and get started today!


IPERS’ Ready, Set, Retire Workshops Offered Via Zoom

If you are thinking about retiring in the next three to five years, IPERS’ Ready, Set, Retire is designed to provide you with a broad range of retirement-related information. Ready, Set, Retire is a free all-day (9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) Zoom webinar, and you may view/attend sessions during work time if scheduling permits and your supervisor approves. Spouses are welcome to attend.

IPERS has recently scheduled these Ready, Set, Retire workshops:

Seating is limited so reserve your spot by registering today! 

Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) Webcasts

Make the best use of your retirement savings benefit by taking advantage of education opportunities offered by RIC. These webcasts may be viewed online from your computer or other internet-enabled device during work time if scheduling permits and your supervisor approves. Click on the links below to register.

March 9       RIC Introduction & Enrollment
March 16     RIC Ready to Retire & Take Income
April 13       RIC Introduction & Enrollment
April 20       RIC Ready to Retire & Take Income

News from State Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) Providers

Please see the latest information, tools, and educational opportunities from various RIC providers below.

AIG Investment Planning Webinar 
With all of the investment choices out there, it's important to understand essential differences. In this workshop, AIG will provide an overview of investment instruments to help you determine which strategies will best suit your needs.

  • Date: March 16, 2021 - Choose to attend one of three sessions at 11:30am | 12:30pm | 4:00pm
  • To register:  Go to
  • Enter registration code:  SOIPWA11AD  (Webinar link will be sent after completing registration)

Your Future is Calling. Meet It with Confidence.




MassMutual Changes to Empower Retirement
Empower Retirement has acquired MassMutual’s retirement business. We’re excited that your plan is coming to Empower and are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible. As this transition unfolds, you’ll notice there’s a lot to be excited about.

Here's what's staying the same for now

  • Your website and login credentials
  • Your contributions and investments
  • Your call center phone number
  • The great service you rely upon

Here's what's changing
You’ll start to see the Empower logo replace the MassMutual logo on your website, statements, required notices, confirmations, forms, and educational materials.

Here's what you need to do
Log into your account to make sure your contact information is up to date so you receive all communications about the transition. We'll keep you updated if further action is needed.
Contact your Empower Retirement advisor to learn more about your financial choices, including help with saving in the Iowa RIC plan.

Show Your Retirement Savings Some Love 
This time of year we often express how much we care for our loved ones. But have you shown your retirement plan the type of love and attention it deserves too? Just over one-quarter of American workers feel very confident they will have enough money to live comfortably throughout their retirement years. How about you?

Personal goals and plans for retirement vary. The key is to identify what goals and the sources of income available to help you get there. If there’s a gap between your goals and your current savings, your Iowa RIC may be able to help you save more.

Log into your account or contact your Horace Mann representative to show your retirement some love.


Saving For Tomorrow is More Important Than Ever. Start Today.
Celebrate America Saves Week February 22-26, 2021, by signing up for the Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) or increasing your current withholding. Start saving for your best life and your future will thank you.

Enroll or consider saving more by visiting Learn more with live and on-demand education at

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Education Opportunities

Leadership Capacity Building Development Certificate (LCBDC) - March Class Offerings

During March, six classes are scheduled as part of the Leadership Capacity Building Development Certificate (LCBDC) for those currently working on the series or others interested in developing your leadership skills.

  • 03/03/21 - Shaping Effective & Engaged Teams
  • 03/04/21 - Managing Effective Meetings
  • 03/10/21 - Fundamentals of Supervision
  • 03/10/21 -The Servant Leader
  • 03/18/21 - Performance Evaluation
  • 03/21/21 - From Interview to Hire

If you want more information on the certificate series, please visit the PDS Certificate Series webpage.  

Shaping Effective & Engaged Teams - March 3, 2021 (Virtual)

What others are saying about this course!  
“It was upbeat and lots of ideas were shared to use with our own team. Even through Zoom, there was a lot of interaction with others through the use of polls and whiteboards.” 

“Worth your time. Very applicable to my job.”


Shaping Effective & Engaged Teams is designed for team leaders to learn about creating an atmosphere of teamwork as well as useful tips to build high-performing, focused, and productive work teams.

This class is part of the Leadership Capacity Building Development Certificate (LCBDC) and the Advanced Leadership Development Certificate (ALDC) started prior to July 2020.
Sign-up is easy! Enroll online through the LMS today to reserve your seat. If you have any questions, reach out to your Training Liaison or the PDS inbox.

The Servant Leader  - March 10, 2021 (Virtual)

What others are saying about this course!
“A unique way to look at leadership.These methods should be 
applied by every manager.”
“Good course for public service, especially if new to public service. Good humble reminders of being a public servant and leading those that work for the public.”


Learn the core tenets of servant leadership and the value of applying these tenets in your personal and professional lives. The Servant Leader will help you to build collaborative, high-trust, and high-functioning teams.
This class is part of the Leadership Capacity Building Development Certificate (LCBDC) and the Advanced Leadership Development Certificate (ALDC) started prior to July 2020.
Sign-up is easy! Enroll online through the LMS today to reserve your seat. If you have any questions, reach out to your Training Liaison or the PDS inbox

Performance & Development Solutions (PDS) Training

Virtual PDS Instructor-Led Courses

Many classroom courses have been updated to an online live format. Courses will run as scheduled, and a 14-day cancellation policy applies. PDS limits class size to 18 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. For classes with more than 18 people enrolled, new dates will be added and participants will be rescheduled as needed.Check out current course listings.

PDS On-Demand Courses

On-demand courses can be completed at any time. Many are policy related and may be required training. See these class listings at On-Demand Course Options.

New Horizons Virtual and On-Demand Computer Courses

Computer training courses are offered by New Horizons.

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HRExpress is a publication for State of Iowa employees. Please print a copy to post or share with co-workers who may not have access to a computer. For prior editions, visit the HRExpress webpage. If you have questions or suggestions for future content, please contact us at

Thank you!