PINELLAS PARK, Fla., Dec. 20, 2012 – Transitions Optical, Inc. has announced the finalists of the Transitions HR Visionary of the Year award, which recognizes and rewards employers who are promoting healthy vision to their workforce through superior vision benefit offerings and employee education. This is the first year for the award, which is co-sponsored by the Institute for HealthCare Consumerism (IHC), as part of its annual Solutions Superstars awards. The winner will be announced during a special awards ceremony culminating the annual Transitions Academy event, held in Orlando in January, with an anticipated 1,000 optical industry professionals and 140 managed vision care industry professionals in attendance. The managed vision care professionals will also participate in the 6th annual managed vision care education track for vision plan providers, benefits brokers and HR professionals – themed “Fire Up Your Vision Promotion Game Plan.”
The three finalists for 2012 HR Visionary of the Year award are Cyndee Blue of Everence Financial, Steve Browne of Wiginton Corporation and Maurice Evans of The Integral Group LLC.
“With the introduction of this award program, we have the opportunity to recognize employers who – amidst enormous cost-cutting pressures – have whole-heartedly adopted the vision benefit as part of their strategy to offer a true value add to employees, while also boosting the
health and productivity of their workforce,” said Smith Wyckoff, key account manager, managed vision care and online retail, Transitions Optical. “We are pleased to kick off the HR Visionary of the Year award program with three stellar finalists, who have shown a commitment to offering quality vision plans, and to educating employees on the importance of annual eye exams and wearing the right eyewear, so employees can see and feel their best on and off the job.”
Getting to Know the Finalists
Located in Goshen, Ind., Cyndee Blue,human resources director at Everence Financial, makes sure her company doesn’t just market quality health benefits to clients, but also makes them available to its own employees. As chairperson of Everence’s wellness committee, Blue said she realized the importance of a quality vision plan for overall health, and wanted to provide incentives for employees to take care of their eyes just as they would go to doctor for an annual physical. After switching from an eye exam-only benefit in her medical plan to a more robust standalone vision benefit in 2008 – and stepping up her education efforts – she now reports that nearly 90 percent of her 400+ employees are enrolled in it. With minimal co-pays, the voluntary plan gives employees access to an annual eye exam and a pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses. Recognizing the importance of vision in her company’s computer-based environment – where eyestrain is common – Blue also made sure her plan included full coverage of lens options such as progressives, anti-reflective coatings, scratch coatings and photochromics like Transitions® lenses, as well as a discount on additional pairs of eyeglasses. Blue says the switch to the standalone plan prompted her to start discussing vision more in her enrollment meetings and regular wellness outreach. She also focuses on the eye health needs of her aging workforce, who likely need some form of vision correction, and are at higher risk for eye-related issues.
With many of his employees requiring safety eyewear on the job, Steve Browne, VP and director of human resources for Wiginton Corporation, says he is all too aware of the importance of eye health for his workforce. Browne is responsible for the benefits of 340 employees working in installation, engineering and fabrication. Recognizing the importance of eye care and eyewear to protect employees’ vision and perform well on the job, he switched the Sanford, Fla.-headquartered company to a more robust plan several years ago. This single-tier plan provides employees an eye exam with a minimal co-pay, high frame credit through the vision provider and discounts on numerous lens options, such as Transitions lenses, all at a low annual premium to employees. Protective, prescription eyewear is available as well.
Browne says he uses vision benefit posters in the employee check-in area, but – with many employees working remotely – really uses his annual enrollment meeting to educate employees about the preventative aspect of eye care and the importance of vision safety. He also emphasizes how taking advantage of the vision benefit can help to improve the financial health of the employee-owned company. Browne says he also encourages employees to become familiar with their family history of obesity, or other medical issues or lifestyle habits that might impact their eye and overall health risk. Especially since preventative medical and dental exams are fully covered, he says it makes it even easier for employees to cover all three vital check-ups with just one small co-pay.
Maurice Evans, Jr., director of human resources for full-service real estate services company The Integral Group LLC of Atlanta, says he has spent the last several years stepping up his wellness efforts – including his vision plan – for his workforce of 250 employees. Despite turning to a fully employee-paid vision plan in 2011, Evans saw his enrollment spike by 30 percent by adding coverage of popular lens technologies. For example, Transitions lenses became free for kids up to age 19, and available at a small upcharge to adults. In 2013, scratch resistant coatings (already covered for adults) will be covered for kids as well. Evans says he now educates employees about their vision benefit on a quarterly basis, and encourages them to share information with family members. This education emphasizes the importance of eye exams for the detection and prevention of diseases like diabetes – especially critical for his aging, diverse workforce – as well as the importance of vision correction for productivity. After participating in the Transitions Academy HR panel in 2012, Evans also worked with Transitions Optical on a custom education program, integrating tools from the Transitions Healthy Sight Working for You® program into twice-monthly employee eblasts, as well as intranet postings, on a variety of eye health topics. Evans also uses the Healthy Sight Calculator (HealthySightCalculator.org) during enrollment and orientation meetings, to show employees their risk for eye health issues and their potential vision plan savings. In addition, he recently worked with his vision plan provider to offer vision screenings during a lunch and learn, helping to identify employees that needed to make an eyecare appointment.
About the HR Visionary of the Year Award
Self-nominated or nominated by a vision plan provider, nominees were evaluated on their commitment to:
- Offering a comprehensive vision benefit — that includes regular, comprehensive eye exams and eyewear options that enhance and protect employees’ sight.
- Providing employee communications — that position vision benefits as an integral part of employees’ health benefits package, by focusing on the importance of quality eye care and eyewear.
- Using employee education tools — during annual benefits enrollment and throughout the year.
In addition to being part of the Academy Awards at Transitions Academy, the finalists for the HR Visionary of the Year award are also featured in the December supplement to the IHC’s HealthCare Consumerism Solutions magazine, HealthCare Consumerism Superstars 2012, and will receive the opportunity to be recognized during the IHC’s annual Forum East for HR professionals and brokers in spring 2013.
All three finalists will also receive a pair of Transitions lenses and either an office celebration or charity donation. In addition, the winner will receive use of the official Transitions HR Visionary of the Year logo, and an additional charity donation.
More information about the 2012 Transitions HR Visionary of the Year Award can be found at HealthySightWorkingForYou.org/HRaward.
ABOUT TRANSITIONS OPTICAL
Since Transitions Optical, headquartered in Pinellas Park, Fla., was founded more than 20 years ago, the company has been driven by an innovative spirit and a commitment to partnership. As the leading provider of photochromics to optical manufacturers, Transitions Optical offers state-of-the-art light management technology in virtually every major lens design and material encompassing a family of everyday adaptive lenses and performance sun lenses.
Everyday lens options include Transitions® lenses, which provide the optimal balance between outdoor darkness and indoor clarity; Transitions® XTRActive™ lenses which provide superior darkness outdoors; and the revolutionary Transitions® Vantage™ lenses, the first and only photochromic lenses to darken and polarize outdoors.
The Transitions® performance sunwear line includes a range of products customized in partnership with other best-in-class brands. Understanding that the right equipment can provide an advantage, the products are all designed to improve depth perception, clarify color and increase contrast for specific outdoor activities.