What I have learned
“Eye care can improve productivity at work”
Corporate manager at Smart Employee Eyecare, Jamie Ramage, and human resources adviser at Rutland County Council, Dawn Farran, discuss how the Smart Employee Eyecare scheme helps improve the health and wellbeing of staff
What is the Smart Employee Eyecare scheme?
Jamie Ramage (JR): The Smart Employee Eyecare (SEE) scheme is an online portal that allows employers to log in and issue sight test vouchers to staff. We control all the admin and manage it for them. It’s a cost-effective solution to help businesses meet the display screen equipment (DSE) legislation for providing an eye test to staff, which is something that is often neglected by employers.
How was it developed?
JR: SEE was started in the early 1990s as part of the Duncan & Todd Group. The manufacturing lab in Aberdeen was getting a lot of enquiries from oil and gas companies about prescription safety eyewear. As a result, Duncan & Todd introduced a corporate department to deal with those enquiries. Then when the DSE law came out in 1992, the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) approached us. We put a network of opticians together for a voucher scheme that RBS staff could use throughout the UK to make them compliant. Since then we’ve branched out into various sectors and well-known companies and organisations including Marks & Spencer, Facebook, BrewDog and even The Royal Household.
How does eye health affect productivity at work?
JR: Enhancing the health and wellbeing of staff through an improved eye care scheme will ultimately encourage productivity in the workplace. Recent research of over 500 HR decision makers found that 73% of employers were not complying with DSE legislation. Additionally, 84% of employees said eye care can improve productivity at work because if staff are they are not experiencing symptoms of dry eye, for example, then they feel less tired.
We’re working in very modern environments now with a lot of people hot-desking and moving to different working environments, so it’s important to take care of your eye health and in turn benefit your wider health and wellness
How does SEE help employers support the health and wellbeing of staff?
JR: Promoting good eye care in the workplace can support the overall health and wellbeing of staff. Not only do frequent eye tests and suitable treatments try and reduce the amount of people that are having blurred vision or headaches at work, but the early detection of illnesses can also be picked up through an eye examination.
Although bosses may understand that eye care can assess the optical health of their employees, few are aware of the wider health issues that can be picked up during a trip to the opticians. We can try and reduce the amount of people that are having blurred vision or headaches at work. We try to promote the benefits of an eye test with the employer, so that all staff are going for an eye test when they need to. We’re working in very modern environments now with a lot of people hot-desking and moving to different working environments, so it’s important to take care of your eye health and in turn benefit your wider health and wellness.
How has the scheme changed since it was first introduced?
JR: In the early days of SEE, it was about opticians going to offices and doing everything on-site whereas now it is user-friendly voucher-based scheme. Staff now choose which opticians to go to in their own time. Today, we’re proud to offer a choice of opticians. Of the 3000 opticians signed up to the scheme in the UK, it is split quite evenly between multiples and independents.
What feedback have you received from clients who have adopted SEE?
JR: The type of feedback we get is that it is easy to use and cost-effective. We run a ‘no-noise’ contract because we manage everything for them with our online portal. Employers don’t have to answer any questions or deal with queries. It sits within other staff benefits, so they can claim the voucher anytime.
As we all use screens, either at work or home, it’s important that we can access the expertise we need to make the right choices for our eyes
When did you introduce the SEE scheme?
Dawn Farran (DF): The scheme was introduced by the council’s staff health and wellbeing group in November 2015 to replace the council’s previous arrangements. A SEE voucher entitles employees to a free eye test and, if required for screen use, a free pair of glasses from the SEE eyewear range.
What are the main benefits of the scheme?
DF: The scheme helps employees to look after their health through regular eye checks to detect health problems early, so that steps can be taken to prevent them developing. This can also benefit the council through reduced sickness absence and by preventing serious conditions. It assists the council to meet its duty-of-care obligations under the DSE regulations.
How has it made a difference to the health and wellbeing of your employees?
DF: The scheme adds to the council’s package of health and wellbeing benefits. As we all use screens, either at work or home, it’s important that we can access the expertise we need to make the right choices for our eyes. This scheme enables employees to get their eyes checked regularly at no cost to the individual. This can help to identify any issues, ensure that appropriate eyewear is available, prevent employees from suffering from headaches and sight problems resulting from uncorrected vision etc. A full eye examination can also help to identify eye diseases and some medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
Providing employees with access to a scheme that provides choice and flexibility shows that the council cares about the health of its employees
How has it improved staff morale and work efficiency?
DF: Providing employees with access to a scheme that provides choice and flexibility shows that the council cares about the health of its employees. It also ensures that employees have access to appropriate eyewear for screen use or driving, for example. It can help to keep a check on eye health and rectify any issues that may arise. This contributes to making work more efficient and comfortable for an employee and improves staff morale. This also helps to improve safety at work and assists the council to cover its legal responsibilities under health and safety legislation.
Are there any particular cases where the scheme has made a great difference to an employee?
DF: Yes, one example is an employee who following an eye check under the SEE scheme was prescribed glasses for screen use. The glasses corrected the employee’s vision and made screen work easier and more comfortable. Previously, the employee had frequently been leaning forward towards the screen and squinting. This has now been eliminated due to the corrected vision which also means that it is less likely that the individual will suffer from headaches and eye strain.