HR for SMEs is a blog created in the beginning of 2018 with the idea of sharing knowledge. To bring to Small and medium enterprises owners the knowledge of a HR Manager.
We have published several articles before about employment benefits before, and even talked about the effectiveness in promoting myopia treatements as part of your health benefits. However, promoting eye care as part of your employee benefits has become more relevant now that most companies have spent several months working from home.
Of all the positive and negative sentiments attached to the work from home era, the most prolific is the strain on employees’ eyesight. In fact, employees who work from home are spending more time in front of the computer screen, facing a bigger workload than before the Covid-19 pandemic began. A Bloomberg study found that employees are spending on average, an additional three hours working per day.
In the UK, workers have increased their workweek by 25% and are logging off their computers at 8 pm. This might be because we are not used yet to disconnect when the time comes. However, the effects of this drastic change in work-life balance, coupled with minimal escapism thanks to the lockdown restrictions are taking their toll on the eye health of all workers to some degree.
In this article, we wanted to show you some of the benefits and how simple it is to include it in your health care plan and some tips on how to build it. Examples below are from the UK in this case, but there are similar systems in other countries and you can try and apply these ones to your region if they are not supported by the government. Most optical business would be happy to set up an agreement with local businesses and it could be a win win situation.
Which benefits are most valued by job seekers?
Big corporations provide health plans for their employees, even in those countries like most of the european ones, where employees have access to a free health system. Still a better health plan has been discovered to be one of the most valued employee benefits.
Whilst 89% of employees value eyecare, employers have been found to spend far less time communicating it than other benefits. Offering competitive benefits to employers is a proven way to demonstrate that you are invested in their overall health as well as their future. What’s more, a sound employee benefits package can help to attract and retain talent. If benefits can help businesses differentiate themselves from competitors – eyecare health has never been more attractive.
The value of eyecare
Eyesight is one of the most important senses. In fact, over 80% of what we perceive comes through our sense of sight. Taking extra care with your eyes will reduce the odds of loss of vision and keeps you on top of any developing eye disease. A large part of how we live depends on our ability to see well, without the need to strain. Of course, eyeglasses can help the visually impaired but even glasses wearers should take extra precautions to now overstrain their eyes.
Whilst the effects of eyestrain, sun exposure, and fatigue contribute largely to our ability to maintain good vision, these factors also feed into additional ailments. Migraines, for example, have been linked to spending too much time looking at screens and are often caused by Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).
Employees who spend more hours at their computers are at higher risk of developing CVS. Exhaustion, lack of circulation, and eyestrain caused by the glare on the screen, improper computer brightness, and colour; is likely to impact productivity. When the eyes become tired, and the migraine strikes, it can be difficult to focus on the task at hand and more difficult for employees to wake up in the morning to do it all over again.
Value for money
As we mentioned on our Myopia article, new research has appeared in the UK, and found that an overwhelming 99% of employers agree that eye tests are just as important as other health checks available for employees. Following this, 70% of employers state they now provide eye tests for their employees. The remaining 30% do not provide eye care – despite health and safety regulations making it obligatory for most.
Time and cost are predominant drivers in the workplace and could help to explain why 30% of employers are failing to implement solid eye care benefits. It seems that high quality, efficient and economic eyecare would be preferred. In the same study, the majority of employers believe that if they could provide a full eye test for their staff for really affordable prices representing good value for money.
The test could help to detect, monitor, and treat a host of other health conditions such as diabetes, risk of stroke, and high blood pressure. A simple eye test can be a thoroughly comprehensive health check for all employees.
Type of corporate eyecare schemes
Corporate eyecare schemes are a good way for employers to meet their duty-of-care requirements for staff using visual display units or for those who drive long distances. There are a number of sources to provide eye care services like vouchers and optical plans through health cash plans or even building relations with local opticians. The benefits of these schemes are, of course, twofold since employers will ultimately face reduced sickness absence and, by preventing serious health conditions – reduce healthcare costs.
1. Reimburse cash
Arguably the simplest and most basic method is for employers to reimburse employees when it comes to expenses for the cost of an eye examination, prescription lenses, and eyeglasses maintenance. While this is simple enough to set up, it can be labour intensive. A more formal, automated scheme is typically preferred.
2. Voucher schemes
Voucher schemes, for example in the UK, have become particularly popular when it comes to employers looking to cover their duty-of-care requirements. Such vouchers can either be prepaid by the company or operate on a pay-as-you-go basis. The vouchers are then handed out to employees as and when they need them.
3. Broader eyecare cover
Broader cover extends from the basics to include a host of other services. Employees receive money towards new glasses, as well as the cover of an eye test. For example, the National Dental Plans optical plan covers the costs of eyeglasses frames of up to £50, lenses for £100, and the costs for loss of sight of up to £10,000. Such cover can, of course, be used alongside voucher schemes or as a standalone service.
Other cover options are more insistent on eye care. VSP’s Vision Care Scheme, for example, encourages all employees to take a full eye test every two years to help detect issues and prevent the development of disease. Premiums start at £2.50 per employee a month, warranting a £125 benefit over a two-year period. It is obviously a good price to pay considering the cost that you can avoid in the longer term.
4. Health cash plan
Optical benefits through a health cash plan cover a variety of everyday healthcare expenses, not limited to eye care. From dental to physiotherapy, employees can claim back the cost of treatment from the cash plan provider. Prices typically start at £1 per week per employee – giving them around £50 of optical cover on an annual basis.
Of all the types of corporate eyecare benefits available, employers should be sure to let their staff know that the benefit is available to them. Employers may well be aware of their obligations, but not all employees will inherently know they’re entitled to employer-funded eyecare cover.
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