myHR: News from Penn's Division of Human Resources

myHR: June 10, 2020

Penn Brings on Virgin Pulse as New Online Wellness Partner

Family Hiking

Whether you want to focus on a health goal, participate in well-being challenges, or simply strive to feel your best, Penn’s Be in the Know wellness program is here to support you. Starting with the 2020-2021 Be in the Know campaign year, participants will have even more help in reaching their goals when Penn welcomes Virgin Pulse as its new wellness partner on July 1, 2020. 

The Virgin Pulse wellness platform will replace StayWell and offers an exciting array of options and resources for participants to optimize their Be in the Know experience. 

During the week of July 6, all benefits-eligible faculty and staff will receive a Virgin Pulse enrollment email from Penn Healthy You, giving them access to Penn’s new wellness platform and full campaign details.

While participation in the Be in the Know campaign will remain virtually the same this year, participants will experience a few modifications (see Be in the Know Campaign Year Updates below). With the launch of the new Virgin Pulse wellness platform, you can look forward to the following changes:

  • Enhanced Rewards Structure – Participants can continue to earn points by completing the qualifying campaign activities (Health Check, biometric screening, and Bonus Actions). Points earned can now be converted to Pulse Cash. For example, if you earn 50 points, you will earn $50 in Pulse Cash. You can then redeem your Pulse Cash for the rewards of your choice directly on the Virgin Pulse platform. Reward options include a variety of retail and VISA gift cards, donating to a charity, or purchasing wellness items (including fitness trackers) in the Virgin Pulse Rewards Store.* 

  • Virgin Pulse Health Check – Like the previous online health assessment, the Virgin Pulse Health Check is a brief online questionnaire where participants provide information about their overall health and receive recommendations based on their responses.

  • New Virgin Pulse Bonus Actions and Resources – Virgin Pulse’s platform offers a wide variety of new online Bonus Actions, including Journeys, emotional well-being courses, tracking activities, lifestyle coaching, daily cards, and much more. “Get Started Actions” is a new Bonus Action this campaign year, and a great way to kick off Be in the Know 2020-2021. Also take advantage of Virgin Pulse’s wellness resources, such as their Nutrition Guide, Sleep Guide, “Be Tobacco-Free” Coaching program, and ways to connect with colleagues.

  • New Challenges – Participants have a number of different challenges to enjoy this year, including Penn Challenges, Personal Challenges, and the Penn Sustainability 30x30 Healthy Habit Challenge (taking place in April 2021.) You can participate in certain challenges with your colleagues to stay connected and enjoy some friendly competition.

  • Familiar Favorites – In addition to Virgin Pulse’s new online options, we’ve continued most of your favorite Bonus Actions. Earn points and Pulse Cash for qualifying actions, including getting a flu vaccine, completing preventative health exams, biking to work, receiving nutrition counseling, participating in wellness-related events, courses and programs, and more. Look for virtual options to accommodate remote work arrangements and social distance concerns.

  • Attestation Forms – These forms will replace the Proof of Bonus Action Forms and allow participants to upload completion credit for certain Bonus Actions right on the platform when it opens in July.

Be in the Know Campaign Year Updates

Here are important details to keep in mind as Penn transitions Be in the Know campaign years and changes its wellness partner to Virgin Pulse. 

    For the current 2019-2020 campaign year:

  • All activities must be completed by the June 30, 2020 deadline. No exceptions will be made since Penn is transitioning to an entirely new platform.

  • All Proof of Bonus Actions Forms and required documentation must be submitted to AREUFIT Health Services by July 31, 2020. 

  • The StayWell portal ( will not be accessible after June 30, 2020. StayWell will email your final earned points total in mid-late August 2020 and answer your questions post deadline through its HelpLine at 1-855-428-6324

  • All confirmed VIPs for the 2019-2020 campaign year will be notified in late August 2020.

    For the upcoming 2020-2021 campaign year:

  • Penn will launch the 2020-2021 Be in the Know campaign year on the new Virgin Pulse platform on July 1, 2020. The campaign will run through June 30, 2021. 

  • Due to the impact of COVID-19 and the need to exercise social distancing, biometric screenings WILL NOT be a required activity to receive any rewards for this upcoming year, as it was in past campaign years. You will only be required to complete Virgin Pulse’s Health Check before you receive any of your earned rewards for 2020-2021.

  • Completing a biometric screening will still be required to become a Be in the Know VIP.

For more information about Be in the Know, visit

*All Be in the Know rewards are subject to applicable payroll taxes. Virgin Pulse will provide tax information to Penn payroll on a periodic basis.

Important Updates to Your Flexible Spending Accounts

Man wearing glasses

Do you participate in a Health Care Flexible Spending Account (HCFSA) or Dependent Care Flexible Spending Account (DCFSA)? If so, we have good news for you. Thanks to recent Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regulations, HCFSA and DCFSA participants now have more time to incur expenses and submit claims for reimbursement. Changes have also been made to the rollover limit for HCFSAs.  

Penn’s plan year runs from July 1 to June 30. The money you contribute to your FSA during each plan year can only be used for eligible expenses incurred within certain dates. Effective May 12, 2020, those dates have changed, as listed in the chart below. 

Account TypesTime Frame to Incur ExpensesClaims Submission Deadline
FY20 Health Care FSA

July 1, 2019-December 31, 2020

Previously June 30, 2020

January 31, 2021

Previously September 30, 2020
FY20 Dependent Care FSA

July 1, 2019-December 31, 2020

Previously September 15, 2020

January 31, 2021

Previously September 30, 2020

Additionally, the rollover amount for Health Care FSAs has been increased from $500 to $550 for the current plan year. If you have an unused balance below $550 at the end of the extension (December 31, 2020), that money will be carried over for the 2020-2021 plan year after January 31, 2021. If you have an FSA balance above $550, you will forfeit those funds.  

Changing Your Contributions

If you want to increase or decrease the amount you contribute to your FSA each month you can through Workday without declaring a specific life event. You can do this for the remaining pay periods in the current plan year and during the 2020-2021 plan year until December 31, 2020. Please note, once you change your contribution you will only be able to incur claims for the new contribution amount based on the effective date of your change. For example, if you increase your goal from $1,500 to $2,000 on June 25, the additional $500 can only be used for claims incurred from June 25, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

If the amount you have contributed to your FSA has already been deducted from your pay, you will not be able to get a refund. For step-by-step instructions on how to make changes to your FSA contributions, review the Self-Service: 2020-Special Election Event tip sheet

A New Eligible Expense 

As a result of the recently passed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you can now use HCFSA dollars to purchase Over the Counter (OTC) medications without a prescription, and feminine care products. Examples of OTC medications include aspirin, allergy medication, band-aids, ace bandages, and knee braces.  

For more information about FSAs, visit the Flexible Spending Accounts webpage.  

Celebrating the 2020 Models of Excellence Everywhere 

Models of Excellence Team 2020

Whether you’re working onsite or remotely, you can still join the Models of Excellence team in congratulating this year’s honorees. 

Watch the 2020 Models of Excellence video online. The video features staff member interviews, as well as portraits of the 16 Models of Excellence and Pillars of Excellence teams and individuals, and Model Supervisor honorees. You’ll see why this outstanding group of 110 Penn community members is worthy of celebration. 

Learn more about the contributions of the 2020 Models of Excellence program honorees by downloading an electronic copy of the special 2020 Models of Excellence keepsake book

Near and far, the Penn community is grateful for your service to the University’s mission in education, research, and public service. 

Penn Transit Dispatchers Keep the University Moving

Headshot of Penn Transit Dispatcher Michael Herring

It’s 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. Penn Transit Services dispatcher Michael Herring sits down at his desk to prepare for his overnight shift. The crackle of the dispatch radio soon gives way to the voice of a transit driver issuing a “10-1”. Herring quickly fires back with a “10-4." 

"When the drivers begin their shift, they do a 10-1, which is code to say that the radio is working properly,” Herring explains. “It’s part of what each of the drivers do when checking their vehicle before going out on the road,” he says. 

Herring is one of six dispatchers working with Penn Transit Services, a transportation network that offers ride sharing, biking, commuter benefits, and bus and shuttle programs for students, faculty and staff who use public transit as a means to travel to, from and around campus. In his role, Herring takes requests from riders, deploys drivers, troubleshoots transport issues that arise, and provides myriad of customer service type work.

Before the pandemic, his work involved handling anywhere from 600 to 1,000 ride requests during his 10-hour shift. He issued those requests to nearly 20 drivers behind the wheels of Penn buses, vans and shuttles. Now that COVID-19 has impacted life on and beyond campus, Herring says he may get 40 calls a night which he assigns to just four drivers.  

“It’s very light now because there are so few people on campus. But we are essential staff and we have to work to get hospital staff, students who are still on campus, and other people who need our service picked up and moving around as fast as possible,” he says. 

Herring has been working with Penn Transit for nearly six years. The North Philadelphia native, who worked a variety of jobs before coming to Penn, started as a driver and also worked as a phone operator before being promoted to a dispatcher. He says having to work during the pandemic has its challenges, but that he’s grateful to be able to come to the University every day.  

“A lot of people lost their jobs because of the virus, so I’m happy that I’m still able to work and help Penn staff who have to work on campus get where they need to go,” he says. 

While Herring works the desk at night, his colleague Eric Brooks, takes over dispatch duties during the day. 

Headshot of Penn Transit Dispatcher Eric Brooks

Brooks handles requests for the Penn Accessible Transit  (PAT) Service, which serves students and employees who are disabled, and the Pennovation shuttle. Like Herring, Brooks takes requests that come in via phone or through the Penn Rides On Request mobile app, and assigns them to drivers. He also helps the office stay on top of guidelines and protocols to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. That means helping to disinfect the office and ensuring that drivers have masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer in their vehicles. In fact, each driver has five masks just in case they need to provide one to a rider who needs it.

Working the dayshift these days also means a lighter schedule than usual, but Brooks says his team understands the importance of their positions in serving the Penn community. 

“Everybody from the drivers to the dispatchers understands their role as essential personnel because when someone requests a ride and needs to get around campus, we have to be here. We have to be ready for it. So, everybody’s being diligent doing everything they’re supposed to,” he says. 

Brooks, a native of West Philadelphia, started working with Penn Transit five years ago as a driver, but it was not his first affiliation with the University. One of his first jobs at Penn was as a desk receptionist in campus housing during the 1990s. He also held positions as a walking escort and a referee for intramural sports. 

“I’ve always been very familiar with Penn, even as a teenager. In fact, my old high school used to be on Penn’s campus. Now I think the building is a sorority house,” he quips. 

Before coming to Penn, Brooks worked as a math teacher at a disciplinary school in the School District of Philadelphia. 

“It was part of my growing up journey, but I got tired of it and decided I needed to move on, so I came to Penn since I was familiar with the West Philadelphia area and the University,” he says. 

When Brooks isn’t fielding calls to shuttle Penn staff around campus, he spends time with his wife and two children. 

“I watch PowerRangers on Netflix with my son. I think we have watched all of them,” he laughs. 

In his spare time, Herring says he works on cars with a good friend. 

“I really enjoy working with my hands. That has really helped me to get rid of the stress of living and working during the pandemic,” he says.  

One-on-One Retirement Plan Consultation

Woman working on her laptop

The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on global financial markets might be a cause for concern about your retirement plan account. TIAA and Vanguard’s counselors are here to support you during this uncertain time.

Plenty of one-on-one counseling sessions are available over the next few weeks. All appointments will be by phone.  Appointments are confidential, without obligation, and available at no cost to you. Rest assured, every TIAA and Vanguard counselor for Penn is a fiduciary, so they are under obligation to advise you on your behalf. 

During your meeting, you'll get answers to your important questions, including:

  • Why join my employer's retirement plan?
  • Am I saving enough for retirement? 
  • How can I save more?
  • How do I choose the right mix of investments?
  • Can I save for retirement as well as other important goals?

You can sign up for an appointment with TIAA at, or with Vanguard at

For more information on Penn’s retirement plans, visit our Saving for Retirement web page.

Healthy Meals: Tuna and White Bean Salad

Tuna and white bean salad

Grab a can of tuna from your pantry and add a few fresh herbs, vinegar, and sweet vegetables to create a quick and delicious meal. Use a no sodium-added albacore tuna or a tuna packed in oil. Top the tuna salad with savory white beans to add fiber and protein for a dinner so good you’d question that it actually came from a can.  

Find the recipe here

Click here to send us your healthy recipes and tips.



Did You Know: Penn Parking Update

Permit holders may continue to park for free in Penn Parking garages and lots until July 31. Commuters with a valid Penn-affiliate ID card also can park for free in the Chestnut 34, Walnut 38, Walnut 40, and Penn Museum garages, as well the Penn Park lot. Other lots on campus are subject to parking fees.

Normal parking rates are in effect in Penn garages and lots for all other customers. 

Visit this Penn Transportation and Parking webpage for details about the availability and locations of parking facilities.



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