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HR Update: TexFlex, take a break, tech tools and Get Fit Texas

Benefit-enhancing changes to TexFlex (flexible spending plan)

Due to the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, the following enhancements to the TexFlex spending accounts have been announced, effective immediately:

  • The annual carryover limit for TexFlex accounts has been temporarily removed
    • All unused funds from plan year 2020 will carry over to plan year 2021, with no limit to the amount that can be carried over
    • No action needed on your part – you’ll be notified by Wageworks when your carryover is completed/updated in your account
    • Previous carryover limit was $500
  • More time to use your funds after you leave employment (or stop contributing to the plan)
    • If you stop contributing/leave employment before the end of plan year 2021, you can continue to incur claims for reimbursement until August 31, 2021
  • You can now make changes to your elections without a Qualifying Life Event (QLE) if you are currently participating in TexFlex
    • For plan year 2021, increase or decrease your amount (or end your enrollment) but not below what you’ve already contributed (if you’ve already contributed $300 via paycheck contribution, you can’t reduce your amount below that)
  • For the dependent care flexible spending account:
    • Submit dependent care claims for children up to age 14
    • If you enrolled in the dependent care flexible spending account before January 31, 2020 and had a qualifying dependent who turned (or will turn) 13 during the 2020 or 2021 plan years, you can submit claims for that child until they turn 14. (Previously, could only claim for children 13 or under.)

Call ERS at 877-275-4377 to make changes to your account. More information about flexible spending account benefits can be found at

Take a break -- your body will thank you

Why are taking breaks during your work day so important? For one, they just make you feel better. Taking a break -- even if only for a short period -- means stepping away from your desk and allowing your mind to be free from work “stuff." Doing so is refreshing and actually helps us all think better and clearer.

Breaks can improve your physical and mental health by providing an energy boost, renewing your creative energy and helping to prevent fatigue. Take a physical break and get up and move. A walk around the building or the block on a pretty day can really lift your mood and inspire you. Do some stretches to bring oxygen in and push tiredness out -- these can be done inside or outdoors. The main thing is just to get away from that desk and get out of that chair. It’s not healthy to stay seated all day. 

Here are some ideas to do while you take a break:

  • Sit outside – find a nice bench on campus, or take some time on your patio if working remote – enjoy nature, sunlight, bird sounds
  • Find a quiet place to listen to your favorite music on your phone
  • Take some downtime to chill with an app like Calm, Headspace (meditation) or check out these top five free recommendations from Mindful
  • Do some deep breathing exercises – or try any of these great stress-relieving break techniques to help you relax and enhance your wellness 
  • Grab a coffee and call a friend – scheduling breaks with friends is a great way to “break up” your day

If you find yourself struggling to find time to breaks then it might be time to “calendar it.” Find that time of the day that’s best for you, and put it on your schedule -- then stick to it like it's an important meeting you can't miss. You may find you feel better the closer that regular break time gets, and certainly afterward. And, lunch doesn’t count as a break. So, take a real break, and then give yourself a pat on the back for doing something that’s really good for yourself.

Cortana -- Get to know this time-saving tech tool

Have you noticed those “Cortana: Your Daily Briefings” emails in your inbox each morning? Don't just delete. Our HR folks are singing the praises of Cortana. Here's what some are saying about his handy email tool:

“Cortana is a tool I use to help me prepare for the week," says Sony Simon, HR Leadership Program Coordinator. "It reviews the tasks, emails or documents I have accessed and helps me stay organized. For example, if I sent an email about a session, Cortana reminds me of a task that may be related to the session and gives me the choice to mark it as completed. It also identifies times where I may need to focus (allows for no interruptions to focus on certain tasks), take a break (time to get away from the screen for a few minutes) or catch up on messages (time to answer emails). You click ‘book it’ and Cortana books it on your calendar for the week and silences your notifications. It is a great tool to help improve your productivity throughout the day. I love it.”

Says Dheeraj Mishra, Sr. Director HRIS/Reporting: "The Weekly Briefing email sent by Cortana has helped me control my calendar and be more intentional with my weekly planning. Cortana looks ahead in my next week's calendar and gives me suggestions on when and how much time I can block for areas such as Focus Time, Quick 15-minute Breaks, Learning/Grow time, etc."  

The next time you see that Cortana email in your inbox, take a second to check out how you can put this handy, easy-to-use tech tool to use for you. Have tips to share? We’d love to hear about how you use Cortana and other (free) productivity tools to make your work week smoother sailing (email us:

Get Fit Texas

The 2021 Get Fit Texas Challenge began on Jan. 11, but it’s not too late to register. Employees can register today and begin logging their physical activity minutes. This statewide challenge against other state agencies runs until March 21. Check out the Get Fit Texas Calendar for 15-minute sessions on how to stay motivated throughout the challenge. And, don’t forget to log your activity minutes each week.

Preventive Care Services at no cost to you

Early detection is the best medicine to help find undiagnosed medical problems. Now more than ever is the time to take advantage of the HealthSelect preventive screenings. To learn more about your family's check list of services, click here.