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HRExpress - January 2021

January 2021    

In this Edition ...

Iowa WorkSmart Project • Benefits • Health & Wellness • Retirement Savings  • Education Opportunities  
Happy New Year! You may notice we’re starting 2021 with a new logo and fresh look for HRExpress. Going forward, all DAS newsletters will be branded with a similar design to reflect our department’s core focus: Empowering people through collaboration and customer service.  

Iowa WorkSmart Project    

The Iowa WorkSmart Project Advances in 2021    

The Iowa WorkSmart Project continues to make progress in the Workday implementation. Recent highlights include:

  • In January the latest edition of Smart Talk was released featuring Smart Facts, a new resource providing high-level information and key talking points about the WorkSmart Project. 

  • The Readiness Team’s Leadership Roadshow Presentations have connected with representatives from more than 40 State entities. This month's Change Agent Meeting included another demo of basic Workday features. Demonstrations for broader audiences are being planned.

  • Meanwhile, the Training Team has been finalizing the training curriculum, which will include a series of step-by-step Job Aids, condensed Smart Guides, Virtual Learning sessions, and recorded Video Snippets to demonstrate simple Workday processes. Recruitment for the Contributed Trainer Network is also underway with the help of WorkSmart Change Agents.

  • On the technical side, the Project Team kicked off End-to-End (E2E) testing, marking a major milestone in the Workday implementation.  

For more information about the WorkSmart Project, please visit or contact the WorkSmart Team at  For questions specific to your organization, reach out to your designated WorkSmart Change Agent.

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State of Iowa Benefits

NEW Prescription Drug Tier for Iowa Choice and National Choice

This year brings an added prescription drug tier for Iowa Choice and National Choice subscribers as outlined in the Enrollment and Change information last fall. The new Tier 4 prescriptions have a $75 copay for a 30-day supply.

Tier 4 drugs are the least cost-effective products within a class of drugs and are available in less expensive formulations on lower tiers of your prescription formulary. Choosing the drug formulations from a lower tier provides the greatest value.

Wellmark personally notified impacted subscribers in December. If you have questions about newly-prescribed medications, please log into MyWellmark or contact Wellmark customer service at 800-622-0043.

NEW Flexible Spending Account (FSA) Changes

Several changes have been made to the State of Iowa Flexible Spending Account (FSA) plans for 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.   

  • Election changes may be made in IowaBenefits without a qualifying life event as follows:  
    • Those currently enrolled in the Health FSA and/or the Dependent Care FSA plan may increase, decrease, or cancel their 2021 election.
    • Those not currently enrolled may enroll in either or both plans.
    • Changes to a Health FSA may be made using the life event “Other Change.” 
    • Changes to a Dependent Care FSA may be made using the life event "Day Care Change."  
    • Election changes are effective for paychecks paid and claims incurred the month after the month the change is made in IowaBenefits. For example, for a change to be effective in February, the change must be submitted in IowaBenefits on or before 1/31/2021. Changes submitted after that date will be effective for the following month.
  • The Health FSA carryover period has been increased to include all unused 2020 contributions. Participants enrolled in the Health FSA for 2020 may incur claims through December 31, 2021, and use funds contributed in 2020. See additional information on the carryover provision.  
  • Dependent Care FSA changes:
    • The grace period has been extended from March 15, 2021, to December 31, 2021. Participants may incur claims through December 31, 2021, and use funds contributed in 2020. 
    • Claims may be submitted for dependents under the age of 14 or eligible dependent adults. This increases the maximum age for children from under 13 to children under 14 and for expenses reimbursed with 2020 contributions.
  • Cancelled coverage: Employees and former employees who cancelled coverage for either plan may submit claims for expenses through December 31, 2020, regardless of the month coverage was cancelled.

More information is available on the DAS Flexible Spending Accounts web page. If you have further questions, contact your Human Resources Associate

Take Advantage of On-Demand Benefit Resources!

The Division of Human Resources had added new tools for employees seeking to learn more about State of Iowa benefits. Topics include eligibility for coverage, life insurance, health and dental highlights, Retirement Investors’ Club, and more! Check out the Benefit Highlight Series.

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Health and Wellness

NEW Healthy Employee Newsletter Debuts

You may have noticed a new quarterly newsletter in your mailbox recently. The Healthy State of Iowa Employees newsletter is designed to help employees stay connected and informed of wellness opportunities on the Capitol Complex and around the state. This edition kicks off a new wellness initiative,  a cooperative effort between the Department of Administrative Services, Wellmark, and the State of Iowa Wellness Champions’ Education and Engagement Committee. As the program unfolds, visit the DAS wellness page for additional opportunities and information.

Voluntary Vision Insurance: Open Enrollment Underway

Open enrollment for vision insurance runs through February 28, 2021. Elections made during this open enrollment period are effective April 1, 2021. The State offers post-tax payroll deductions to pay your vision insurance premiums directly to the vendor. Information about the voluntary vision coverage is available at

Ergonomics for Your Eyes: Ten Great Computer Monitor Hints 

Lessen eye strain, bad posture, dry itchy eyes, and more with these 10 simple tips:

  1. If you use multiple monitors, place them side-by-side with frames touching.  

  2. Do not bobble your head side-to-side, move your eyes instead.

  3. If you have multiple screens, use the same adjustments for color and brightness on all of them.

  4. Center your keyboard directly in front of your monitor(s). 

  5. Reach your arms straight out and extend your fingers to touch the screen. This determines the optimal distance between you and your monitor.

  6. Adjust your monitor with the top of the screen at eye level. If you wear bifocals, try dropping  the screen slightly lower. If you cannot adjust screen height, use a book or ream of paper to raise it to the correct height. 

  7. Use your mouse to scroll your work to the upper portion of the screen to eliminate having to bob your head up and down to view it correctly. 

  8. To limit glare on your screen, slant the top of the monitor toward you.

  9. Increase your font size to lessen the tendency to squint or lean in toward your screen. Also, clean your screen to remove fingerprints and dust and check with your eye doctor to see if computer glasses might be a good option for you. 

  10. Look away from your screen periodically for 15-20 seconds to help lessen eye strain and dry, itchy eyes. Close your eyes or look at an object in the distance and blink periodically to let tears naturally hydrate your eyes.

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.

You can view online seminars from your computer or any other internet-enabled device at your convenience. The seminars are free of charge with the most recent offerings accessible on the available dates listed below:

  • Available now: Reframing Your World - Discover the practical ways to reframe your perspective to live a more present and positive life.
  • Available February 16: 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.

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.

NEW COVID-19 Resource Webpage

Looking for the latest COVID-19 information? Check out DAS Human Resources’ new webpage featuring  a collection of COVID-1 resources, putting the information you seek in a dedicated location.  

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Retirement Savings

Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) Webcasts

Make the best use of your retirement savings benefit by taking advantage of education opportunities offered by RIC. The presentations are webcasts and you may attend online from your computer or other Internet-enabled device from work or home.

NEW On-Demand Retirement Resources

The Human Resources Division of DAS recently created four short videos to help retirees better understand their options at retirement. Current topics include health and dental care before and after Medicare eligibility, as well as continuing life insurance after retirement. These videos are part of the Retirement Benefit Highlight Series.

News from State Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) Providers

From time to time, one or more of the RIC providers (AIG, Horace Mann, MassMutual, Voya) share tools and information to assist retirement savers with planning and investment strategies. See current messages from the providers below.

Have You Reviewed Your Beneficiary Lately?

Here are a few things you should know about beneficiaries:

  • Who is a beneficiary? A beneficiary is the person or entity designated to receive the proceeds from your retirement plan or other financial contract.
  • Get specific. Designate a “primary” and “contingent” beneficiary. If the primary beneficiary dies before you do, the death benefit will be paid to the contingent beneficiary.
  • What if you don’t designate a beneficiary? If you haven’t named a beneficiary, the death benefit will likely be paid directly to your estate.
  • You may need to update. Changes in your life situation (marriage, divorce, the birth or adoption of a child) may cause you to change your initial selection.

Questions? Contact your AIG financial advisor directly or by calling 888-569-7055.


Make Retirement a Priority

It is estimated you will need 70-80% of your current income to maintain a similar way of life after you retire. For example, if your annual salary is $50,000, you may need $35,000 to $40,000 a year in retirement to continue your current lifestyle. Personal goals and plans for retirement vary. The key is to identify your goals and the sources of income available to help you get there. If there’s a gap between your goals and current savings, your employer’s retirement plan may help you save more.

Click here to see what delaying your savings can mean to your retirement. Have questions? Contact us at 844-895-0980. At Horace Mann, we leave no question unanswered.

Kick Up Your Savings!

If you are not already maxing out your Iowa Retirement Investors' Club (RIC) Retirement Plan account, consider bumping up your contribution. Going into the new year, it’s important to maximize your savings and understand how much you can contribute this year in order to reach your retirement income goals of tomorrow.

Every year, the IRS announces the latest contribution limits for retirement savings accounts. If you’re age 50 and above, did you know you can make a catch-up contribution above and beyond the standard contribution limit?

Here is the amount you can contribute to your retirement plan in 2021:

  • 2021 Contribution Limit: $19,500
  • Catch-up Contribution Age 50+: $26,000

Save what you can today for your tomorrow! For more information on 2021’s contribution limits, visit

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Education Opportunities

NEW Vendors at PDS

Performance & Development Solutions (PDS) has three new vendors this year with fresh takes on a variety of training topics, from communication and teamwork to leadership and managing/developing staff. Get to know our new trainers and their training topics in the New Instructor Spotlight.     

NEW Certificate Series - Classes Starting Soon!

Classes are starting soon in the new professional development certificate series designed to help employees build leadership skills and flourish in the workplace. Each series consists of several classes for employees at all levels of experience and years of service.  

The Certificate Series includes:

  • The Talent Development Certificate (TDC) - Geared toward employees new to public sector employment but open to any State employee.
  • The Advanced Talent Development Certificate (ATDC) - Targeted toward employees who have worked in the public sector for more than two years.
  • The Leadership Capacity Building Development Certificate (LCBDC) - Designed for those interested in developing leadership skills or leading initiatives, as well as those new to leadership positions within the last two years.
  • The Management Development Certificate (MDC) -  Offered only to State of Iowa employees classified as a Manager or Supervisor. 

For more information, explore any of the PDS Certificate Series course offerings, check the January / February PDS class calendars, or email today!

Performance & Development Solutions (PDS) Training

Virtual PDS Instructor-Led Courses
Many classroom courses have been updated to an online live format. The 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!