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Leightons introduces new health and wellbeing strategy

CEO of Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care, Ryan Leighton (pictured), and and managing director, Rebecca Sharp, discuss how the independent is supporting its staff

06 Sep 2019 by Andrew McClean

How is Leightons currently supporting the health and wellbeing of its staff?

Rebecca Sharp (RS): We have an employee assistance programme in place with things like medical insurance and flu jabs. We also have a solid approach to counselling and support on a one-to-one basis. Our current approach has been more discrete than what we will be doing going forward. Previously, we have relied on people coming to us with things they have wanted to deal with, but this new approach will enable us to be more pro-active.

What led to the development of a health and wellbeing strategy?

Ryan Leighton (RL): We have a purpose as a business to help people. We normally talk about our customers in this way to help them live life more fully. We’re a people organisation and the only way we can deliver on that purpose is if our people are fit, healthy and resilient.

It’s topical in the news and most progressive organisations are starting to look at health and wellbeing as something that is important in creating a stronger workforce and culture that can deliver the company’s purpose. Ultimately, it’s about care for our staff. It’s right at the top of our vision and purpose.

What is the significance of this strategy to staff?

RL: We’re trying to create a happier, healthier workforce. If people are coming to work every day and they are healthier in themselves then increased productivity is going to be a by-product of that. With this type of strategy, you might find that people start working together better as a team or there’s a reduction in the amount of sick leave taken.

“We’re trying to create a happier, healthier workforce”

CEO of Leightons Opticians and Hearing Care, Ryan Leighton

Why should other businesses consider introducing their own plan?

RL: It makes sense that employers start looking after their employees more than they currently are. It is only now that mental wellbeing is being talked about more in organisations. Any organisation or employer should be thinking about this. There are simple things that they can do. We have a responsibility to our staff to provide them with a platform to seek advice. It is important to create a safe environment for people to speak about mental health.

RS: We’re trying to create openness. People could be off work because of financial pressures, anxiety or a family-based issue, for example, and we’re able to offer help and support under this new programme.


What tips would you offer optometrists on maintaining a healthy work/life balance?

RS: One of the first things that can help is to come out of the testing room. Optometrists can spend the day in darkness and they need to be out in the light to break up that routine. It is a stressful job so creating a good support mechanism around people is important. It’s also really important to look at the environment and to make sure you’ve got great ergonomics around them. Optometrists are up and down all the time, so it’s about prevention and thinking about what you can do to maintain healthy posture and good core before developing issues. We know that connecting with the community is something that makes people feel good, so optometrists could get involved with the local community to promote a feel good factor and offer their services in a less routine way than usual.

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