BY JONATHAN ORMSBY
Going into another year with pandemic uncertainty and challenges, an increasing focus on boosting employee productivity and well-being is one of the top work trends in 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way that employees work and live and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/stress-coping/employee-job-stress/index.html) high-levels of fear, anxiety and overall workplace stress can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
According to the U.S. Labor Department, the number of American employees quitting their jobs rose to 4.5 million in November 2021, up from 4.2 million reported in October 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the ‘Great Resignation’ (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm). November’s number topped the prior record of 4.4 million reached in September. That means 3% of workers voluntarily left their positions, matching September’s record high.
Now more than ever, employers must invest in the health and wellness of employees and their families — or face the consequences of an unsatisfied workforce or even difficulties with employee attraction and retention.
Premium eyewear options, often covered in full or in part by vision benefits plans, can help maintain or improve overall employee health and wellness. In fact, employee wellness can be a significant factor in the efficiency of a company’s operations, as they can help provide the best workplace environment for employees to reach their highest potential. And, employees agree — with 88% reporting workplace wellness initiatives would improve their overall health. This according to the 2020 Transitions Optical Workplace Wellness Survey (conducted online among 1,300 nationally representative U.S. adults, ages 18-plus, who are employed full time or part time and whose employers offer vision benefits).
Premium eyewear options, often covered in full or in part by vision benefits plans, can help maintain or improve overall employee health and wellness.
Additionally, 83% say workplace wellness initiatives can also help to increase their productivity. Almost half (47%) report encouragement to take breaks to rest eyes and prevent eyestrain would be the best way to improve their productivity versus receiving fitness financial assistance (45%) and catered lunches (40%).
These findings emphasize the importance of ensuring employers are taking the right steps to help protect employee eye health. This includes encouraging periodic breaks to rest their eyes and providing access to vision benefit plans with premium lens options to help protect their eyes from potentially harmful blue light, digital eyestrain and fatigue.
Employees not only need vision benefits — they want them, and they’re more likely to engage with employers who offer them. In fact, nearly two in three employees say they would be more likely to accept a job offering vision benefits, according to the 2020 Transitions survey, emphasizing that simply offering an attractive vision benefits plan may help employers with attraction and retention of top talent during this time of rapid and record-breaking resignation (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/jolts.nr0.htm).
HELPING TO ALLEVIATE THE INCREASING DEMAND ON EMPLOYEES’ EYES
Over half of employees report spending more time in front of their work comPg 28 puter screens than they did before the pandemic, according to the survey. Among these employees, nearly nine in 10 (85%) are experiencing more digital eyestrain — with many also experiencing corresponding symptoms, such as headaches (51%), dry eye (48%), and light sensitivity (29%).
As a result, employees are becoming more concerned about their eye health than ever before, with the survey finding that almost half are more concerned about digital eyestrain in general; half are more concerned about light sensitivity and one in three is more concerned about eye damage from harmful blue light.
Facing increasing visual demands, employees are looking to their vision benefits plans for eyewear options to help protect their eyes and enhance their overall vision. According to the 2021 survey, one-third of employees will actively seek out information about blue light eyeglasses, update their prescription, and/or buy new glasses.
As many employees continue to work in remote or hybrid situations — with this being the new, indefinite norm for some — they are also finding it hard to break away from their computer screens, digital devices or both. This can mean more exposure to unwanted side effects — such as increased digital eyestrain and potentially harmful blue light — which may take a toll on vision and ultimately impact how employees feel and perform.
TIME FOR A VISION BENEFITS UPGRADE
Seven out of 10 employees indicate that protecting their eye health is more important today than before the global pandemic (according to 2020 Transitions Optical Global Consumer Sentiment and Behavior Survey). This means that employers who offer premium vision benefits that cover both annual, dilated eye exams and eyewear options that protect and enhance vision can help them stand out in the crowd.
Not only does poor vision impact work, but it also impacts an employee’s overall health. In addition to comprehensive eye exams identifying common problems with vision — such as trouble seeing up close or far away — they can also detect eye diseases and certain serious overall health issues — like diabetes — while it’s still early enough to seek treatment and save on medical costs.
Known for being low in cost to both employers and employees, vision benefits offer a high return-on-investment for employers. Some of the returns that employers may see include medical cost savings — because of the connection to costly eye disease and serious medical conditions — and improved employee productivity. (Studies have found that even slightly miscorrected vision, so slight that an employee doesn’t notice, can impact productivity by upwards of 20%.)
To help elevate the importance of comprehensive eye exams and quality eyewear available through vision benefits, many vision plans and optical companies offer complementary resources that brokers and employers can access free-of-charge. A variety of employee- and employer-focused tools and education can be accessed at HealthySightWorkingforYou.org.
JONATHAN ORMSBY Is a Senior Key Account Manager for Transitions Optical. Reach out to him at email@example.com.