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Women’s health in the workplace: secret women’s business or a positive way to support your female employees?

Talking about women’s health in your workplace health & wellness program can be quite tricky.

I know many health and wellness managers end up trying to dance around the issue. They don’t want to be seen to be treating women differently from their male colleagues. They fear the health initiatives might come across as patronising, or too intrusive.

Yet the fact is that female employees do require tailored health information. For a start, they’re prone to gender-specific diseases such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer. They’ve actually got a higher risk of heart disease than men, and are more prone to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

Women also report more stress over more work-life conflict. Research shows your female employees are more likely to have more child care and eldercare responsibilities to juggle. And, like it or not, they still tend to have more housework responsibilities.

If you want to support your female employees, and even more importantly, ensure they feel supported, you need to provide health initiatives which meet their specific needs.

What women want

The best way to help your female employees improve their health and maintain a healthy lifestyle is to provide a supportive mix of information, tools and motivation.

Healthworks’ formula for promoting health behaviour change works perfectly here. You need to provide:

  • Awareness & education could include solutions such as ebooks and booklets, seminars or webinars, or even fridge magnets. Health checks can also help make the issues more personal.
  • Motivation could be through a motivational campaign, or through enthusiastic and supportive health champions.
  • Tools and skills can be provided through personalised consultations, such as a Work Life Balance Consultation, or Nutrition Consultation.
  • And as for policy and environment, well that comes down to “women-friendly” workplace culture” – a topic far greater than I can touch on in this blog, but which could include everything from flexible work arrangements to providing clear carers’ leave policies to providing nicer rooms for breastfeeding mums to express.

It’s the how that matters

Once you’ve planned out what you’re going to provide, you need to carefully consider how you deliver your program

Here are my Top 3 Tips for delivering a successful women’s health program:

  1. Make sure the content is written and delivered by women’s health professionals – ones who have recent and broad experience in working with women, particularly women in the workplace. Otherwise it may come across as patronising, dated or sexist – or all three at once!
  2. Make sure you cater to different learning styles – some employees prefer to read a booklet or ebook on their own, others learn from listening or discussing.
  3. Make sure you ask for, and incorporate, ongoing feedback. 
Healthworks

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