The use-it-or-lose-it flexible spending account (FSA) deadline is looming large and your employees could be at risk of forfeiting an average of $300 to a missed deadline. And in the current financial environment – not to mention the normal end of year financial stress that many individuals and families face – leaving any amount of money on the table is not acceptable. Fortunately, there's still time to help employees avoid this situation and to educate them on the many meaningful ways they can use these funds before time runs out.

You've taken the important step of offering an FSA to your workforce, but nurturing account holder knowledge and utilization of these funds throughout the year is what really moves the needle on re-enrollment and benefits satisfaction. If you're not sure where to start, here are three simple steps that all employers and HR teams can take to help employees make the most of their FSA:

  1. Communicate now about the deadline. Whether your plan year ends on December 31 or some other date, be sure to communicate this information to employees so they understand what their deadline is and how it impacts them and their FSA funds.
  2. Promote FSA eligibility. A lack of understanding of how FSA funds can be spent is a primary reason that consumers forfeit funds (along with not being aware of their deadline). HR teams and employers can remedy this by educating employees about ways they can spend their funds throughout the year. By keeping eligibility ideas top of mind for employees, you will increase the likelihood that they use their tax-free dollars to supplement their health benefits and manage their personal health all year 'round.
  3. Encourage the use of online tools. In addition to an online eligibility list, encourage employees to use FSA planning tools when they first enroll in the account, to see how much they can save, to help map out potential expenses, and to set up deadline reminders, so they don't lose funds.

Work-from-home FSA hacks

As hybrid and work-from-home arrangements continue to shape the way our country works, employers need to be aware of how an employee's health at home can impact their productivity, performance, and how they function as part of a team. It may surprise you and your employees to learn that FSA funds can be used to support work-from-home health needs. So, as you're arranging computer equipment and office furniture for your remote employees, you should also make them aware that their FSA funds can be used to support health needs like:

  • Eye strain and headache from extensive screen time. Products like a weighted compression eye mask can help alleviate these symptoms.
  • Musculoskeletal pain and tension that comes from prolonged sitting. This is a work-from-home challenge that many employees will struggle with, since their home office does not require that they leave the house and it's easy to gather what you need and camp out at your desk all day with little to no breaks. Unfortunately, this can lead to back, neck, hip, and other musculoskeletal pain. Products like an acupressure pain relief cushion can help maintain a healthy posture, while relieving pain.
  • Vision impairments. Have you ever noticed during video calls the number of people wearing glasses? Whether it's prescription blue light glasses to reduce harm to the eyes or corrective lenses, FSA funds can help pay for these expenses, as well as things like eyeglass cleaners or contact lenses.
  • Hand and arm pain related to extended computer time. Typing on a keyboard and maneuvering a mouse all day can lead to pain and tension in the hands, wrists, and forearms. Remote employees can use FSA funds to address these symptoms with products like pain-relief wrist wraps and braces.

Related: The U.S. spent $4.5T on health care in 2022 (that's $13,500 per person)

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