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HRExpress - May 2021

May 2021    

In this Edition ...

Iowa WorkSmart Project • Benefits • Health & Wellness • Retirement Savings  • Education Opportunities  

Iowa WorkSmart Project

What Does Workday Mean for State Employees?
Curious what Workday will mean for you? The latest Smart Facts highlights some of the tasks State employees will be able to perform online through Workday's convenient Employee Self-Service (ESS) capabilities.  

WorkSmart Phase 2 Kicks Off: Workday Financial (FIN)
Phase 2 of the WorkSmart Project has begun - the implementation of Workday Financial (FIN).

Workstreams are being organized with agency representatives, and design sessions are being scheduled. The purpose of design sessions is to gather State agencies' finance system requirements for each functional area. Business processes will be discussed and decisions made to develop the State’s Workday tenant. Stay tuned for more to come! 

Employees Respond to WorkSmart Change Survey
We asked. You answered! More than 6,600 State employees completed the statewide WorkSmart Change Survey last month. Thank you to everyone who took time to participate.

Your input will help the WorkSmart OCM Team develop effective organizational change management activities moving forward. Thank you for your participation!

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

State of Iowa Benefits

Changes to Health Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) Regarding PPE
In the April HRExpress, DAS announced that personal protective equipment (PPE) is now an eligible expense for the health flexible spending account (FSA) plan. This coverage change now applies retroactively to January 1, 2020, for anyone who participated in the health FSA plan. Retroactive application applies only during months in which the employee participated in the health FSA. For instance, if someone enrolled in health FSA for July 2020, only expenses incurred on or after July 1, 2020 would be covered.

DAS has also increased the length of time during which you can incur and submit claims. If you still have 2020 claims that haven't been submitted, you may submit them to ASIFlex by December 31, 2021.  Additional information may be found here.

The Basics on Braces From Delta Dental
For many of us, dental braces were a rite of passage in childhood and adolescence. If you’re a parent considering braces for your child, you may have questions about treatment options and your State of Iowa orthodontic insurance coverage. Delta Dental answers some of your most frequently asked questions. Read the full article from Delta Dental. 

Medical Care When Traveling Outside the Country 
More families will be traveling in the coming months now that the COVID vaccine has come on the scene. If you happen to travel outside of the U.S. and need a doctor, hospital, or other health care professional, any medical claims for National Choice or Iowa Choice plan members will be processed abroad as they would at home when you show your Wellmark ID card at participating BlueCard Worldwide providers.

  • National Choice - Under the National Choice option, you have access to doctors and hospitals in more than 190 countries around the world through the Blue Cross Blue Shield Global™ (BCBS Global™) Core Program. With the BCBS Global Program (BlueCard), you can locate international doctors and hospitals by visiting and searching the National Doctor and Hospital Finder or by calling 800-810-BLUE (2583). When you receive non-emergency care from providers not included on this list, these services would be covered at the out-of-network level and you will typically have to pay the providers directly and submit the claims yourself to obtain reimbursement for these services. 
  • Iowa Choice - Under the Iowa Choice program, you are only covered for emergency care or care for an accidental injury when you receive services in a foreign country. If needed, you will still want to seek out care from a participating BlueCard Worldwide provider when possible so you are charged in-network rates for your care whether it is covered by insurance (emergency/accident) or you pay privately (non-accident/non-emergency). 

For more information on your health care benefits outside the country, visit BCBS Global or contact Wellmark’s customer service at 800-622-0043.  

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Health and Wellness

Vaccinate Iowa - Sleeves Up
For more information about getting the COVID-19 vaccine, visit Vaccinate Iowa - Sleeves Up. The Iowa Department of Public Health website includes answers to questions and a list of providers

The Mighty Mouse: Small in Size, Big For Your Ergonomic Well-Being 
An ergonomic mouse is the one that fits in your hand comfortably. There are new styles available and, with a little shopping around, you can find one that fits you best. A vertical mouse places your hand and lower arm in the handshake position, for many it is a more comfortable position. No matter which style you choose, the size  needs to fit into the palm of your hand.  

Here are three additional tips when choosing a mouse for your personal and work computers:

  1. The mouse should sit close to the side of the keyboard, allowing you to maintain a neutral arm position with the upper arm pointing down to the floor and elbow bent to 90 degrees. The lower arm, wrist, and hand stay flat and inline when moving from the keyboard to mouse. A mouse pad can help keep the mouse from moving too far away from  your keyboard.
  2. Use a full arm movement from the shoulder to manipulate the mouse in a circular motion. Lock the lower arm, wrist, and hand to prevent the wrist from wiggling or moving side to side. In addition, to scroll use the middle finger.The index finger is the left click and the ring finger is the right click.
  3. At a minimum, pull your arm back away from the mouse every 40-50 minutes. Do hand stretches or a different task in order to relieve the static position that develops over time. After 10-15 seconds, you can go back to keying and using the mouse. Shorten the interval between pauses as intensity of work increases.

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 dates listed below.

Available now:  Addressing Anxiety in an Uncertain World - Learn how to recognize and manage anxiety to actively combat the physical and mental effects in a practical way.

Available June 15:  Building Healthy and Happy Relationships - Identify ways to build and maintain healthy relationships, with a focus on the importance of setting boundaries.

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 on EAP resources, visit the DAS Employee Assistance Program web page.

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Retirement Savings

Important Reminder from Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC)
It has been more than a year since the pandemic began. While the national crisis isn't yet over, now is a good time to review how your emergency and retirement savings accounts have weathered the storm.  
Make an appointment with your Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) advisor to review your accounts and determine if changes should be made, either to the amount you are saving or your investment fund mix. It’s your money and your future. Make sure you are prepared!

Visit the RIC website to access provider and advisor information. Contact RIC if you have any questions.

If you would like to learn more about the RIC retirement savings benefit, go to the benefit education calendar and register to attend a live webinar.

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.

Tuesday, June 8, 9:00 a.m.      RIC Introduction & Enrollment
Tuesday, June 15, 9:00 a.m.    RIC Ready to Retire & Take Income

Retirement Benefit Presentations Offered On Demand
DAS Human Resources has information on the website for employees seeking information about State of Iowa retirement benefits. The presentations, previously offered live online, are now available on demand any time day or night. Retirement Benefits Before Medicare Eligibility and Retirement Benefits After Medicare may be found on the DAS Benefit Series Highlight page. 

News from State Retirement Investors’ Club (RIC) Providers 
Please see the latest information, tools, and educational opportunities from various RIC providers below.

Protect Yourself Against Cyber Threats
It is more important than ever to take appropriate actions and use safe practices to protect your accounts from fraud. To learn more about how you can better protect your accounts, please watch this short video on digital security or read about key features and helpful tips you can use today.

AIG Retirement Services, one of RIC’s retirement plan providers, encourages you to register your accounts online and use the security features offered, such as multi-factor authentication and biometric access for the AIG Retirement Services mobile app.

Visit to register your online account today or call 1-800-426-3753 for assistance.




The Pandemic’s Impact on the Sandwich Generation’s Retirement Preparations
Part of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has been increased pressure on the group of people known as the “sandwich generation” - those responsible for caring for younger children and aging parents. A recent survey found that the demographics of the sandwich generation are changing.1 
Today, millennials make up the largest segment at 40%, while Gen Xers represent 34% and baby boomers come in at 13%. Also, 54% of the people in the sandwich generation said they were spending more each month on caregiving since the start of the pandemic, and 23% report spending an extra $200 or more per month. As a result, 30% say they are saving less for retirement.

The earlier you start saving for retirement, the more time you have to benefit from the power of compound growth, where any earnings from your investments get reinvested and have the potential to generate additional earnings. As your income increases with each raise throughout your career, the more you may have available to contribute to your account. So, neglecting to save for retirement or reducing the amount you save at this time can have a significant impact on your future retirement readiness.

Contact an Empower representative to learn more about your financial choices, including help with saving in the Iowa RIC plan.

Did You Know You Could be Saving Even More Toward Your Retirement?
At age 50, your Iowa RIC plan allows you to make catch-up contributions beyond the regular annual contribution limit. A catch-up contribution is a type of retirement savings contribution that allows people aged 50 or older to make additional contributions to their RIC 457 plan. For 2021, the catch-up contribution limit is $6,500 over the regular limit of $19,500 for a total of $26,000.

Jump at The Opportunity to Boost Your Retirement Savings!
Now is a great time to boost your retirement savings and get ready for a successful retirement. Increase your contributions by completing the RIC Account Form. Contact your local Horace Mann representative if you have questions.

Life happens. Emergency Savings Can Help You Prepare Financially.
Prior to the pandemic, emergency savings balances for most Americans were not so great. Did you know up to 46 million people depleted whatever emergency savings account they had?1 The good news is that, despite this, more Americans surveyed have learned from the pandemic and are seeking to get back on track. Sixty-six percent agree they are now better prepared for future emergencies and 62% are saving more in order to cover future unexpected expenses.2 

Starting with a $500 or $1,000 savings goal for emergencies is achievable if you set your mind to it. Even saving the smallest amount consistently can add up over time.

Where can you start? Visit today for a two-minute video on how to build an emergency fund. Just search “emergency fund” for the video Spending and Savings Series: Establishing an Emergency Fund. Together, we can help you prepare for when life unexpectedly happens.
Sources:, 46 million Americans wiped out their emergency savings during the pandemic — How to turn it all around in 2021,, last accessed March 11, 2021
.2Based on the results of a Voya Financial survey conducted through Ipsos on the Ipsos eNation omnibus online platform among 1,004 adults aged 18+ in the U.S. (including 534 who are currently working). Research was conducted Nov. 19-20, 2020.
contributions are right for you. Contact a Voya representative at 800-555-1970 to discuss options to meet your savings and retirement income needs. 

Creating a Secure Retirement: The 3-Part Solution
IPERS and Iowa State Extension Services team up to present a free workshop for all State employees planning to retire in the next three to five years. Creating a Secure Retirement: The 3-Part Solution is a full-day workshop to bring together everything you need in order to plan a financially secure retirement.

Workshop content will be customized with your personal information, so you’ll be able to figure out exactly where you are in the pre-retirement process. Learn more and pre-register for one of the upcoming sessions 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

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Education Opportunities

Featured Course Spotlights

  • Leading Through Change - June 10

This course is designed for seasoned leaders and managers to assist employees experiencing organizational change. You’ll learn concepts to help you lead employees through change; understand that people view change through various viewpoints; learn action steps for change; and recognize what employees need through change.

Included in These Certificate Series:

  • Talent Development Certificate (TDC)
  • Professional Development Certificate (PDC) (Prior to July 2020)
  • Listening Skills - June 16

Improved listening means better job efficiency and productivity. Most employees spend more than 50% of their day listening. Accurate listening and retention skills are crucial to help manage the amount of information we receive daily. You will practice practical techniques to improve your listening skills.

Included in these Certificate Series:

  • Talent Development Certificate (TDC)
  • Professional Development Certificate (PDC) (Prior to July 2020)
  • Project Management Seminar - June 22-23

Designed specifically for those who are actively managing projects, this class is a deep dive into the processes, knowledge areas, inputs, and outputs you need to know to manage projects more effectively. This hands-on, no-nonsense class can serve as a foundation for project managers new to their role, as well as an eye-opening refresher for seasoned project managers who have been managing projects for years.
Included in these Certificate Series:

  • Management Development Certificate (MDC)
  • Leadership Development Certificate (LDC) (Prior to July 2020)

Sign up today - it’s 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

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