09/11/2021

The Importance of Supporting Women’s Health in the Workplace

Over the last 50 years, there has been a 20 percent increase in women working full-time in the UK (1). This statistic in and of itself shows just how far businesses have come in recognising the importance of supporting inclusion in the workplace.

Considering there are more than 15 million women employed in the UK, it’s become more important than ever for employers to acknowledge and support women’s health in the workplace (2). Doing so not only inspires a healthy workforce but also promotes a more productive, successful business. In fact, gender diverse businesses are 25 percent more likely to financially outperform their counterparts (3).

 

Women’s health in the workplace

While women have made huge strides over the years in terms of gender equality in the workplace, there will always be unique health challenges for working women. These may include symptoms associated with menstrual cycles, fertility struggles, endometriosis, pregnancy, post-natal depression, and menopause, just to name a few. Symptoms and restrictions caused by these common conditions can impact a woman’s performance at work and, in some cases, affect the course of a woman’s career.

Historically, women’s health has been overlooked and stigmatised, causing women to choose to leave their employer, shift to part-time hours, turn down promotions, or retire early. These decisions not only negatively affect the women, but can also lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and a loss of female talent.

 

How to support women’s health in the workplace

Thankfully, the tides are changing, and more and more employers are taking proactive steps to support women’s health needs in the workplace. Whether you’re an employer looking for ways to support your female employees or simply want to learn more about this topic, here are our top tips for creating an inclusive, accommodating workplace for women.

 

Educate your team

It’s the responsibility of business leaders to train and educate themselves and managers about the different types of health conditions a woman can face, and the potential issues associated with them. For example, post-natal depression affects one in 10 women in the UK, the symptoms of which can impact a woman’s work performance (4). Knowing the signs of this condition and how to support a woman experiencing post-natal depression is essential in successfully keeping these women in the workplace.

 

Normalise conversations

Women’s health issues can be embarrassing for both women and men to talk about. Women may feel self-conscious bringing them up, especially if their manager is a male. This can make women experiencing health issues feel isolated and unsupported. To break this taboo, it’s crucial to create a workplace culture that helps women feel supported and safe when talking about their health and to understand that they’re not alone.

To encourage this, consider running internal campaigns or holding sessions on women’s health that share information about conditions, symptoms, the potential impacts of these conditions, and what the company is doing to offer women support.

 

Update policies and processes

Take the time to review your existing policies and processes around health and safety, including sick leave, maternity leave, and flexible work schedules, to ensure that women’s health conditions are properly considered.

Now, this doesn’t mean that women need to be granted leave for every health condition. For example, rather than creating a policy for menopause leave, work to make adjustments in the workplace that meet menopausal women’s needs. You want to ensure women are supported, while still encouraging and enabling them to maintain their assigned job responsibilities.

 

Offer wellbeing programmes and other resources

In the UK, 44 percent of employers offer company wellness programmes (5). When executed correctly, wellness programmes give employees incentives, tools, social support, and strategies to adopt and maintain healthy behaviours. These programs attract more talented workers, improve productivity and company morale, and reduce absenteeism and turnover.

While general wellness programmes will benefit both men and women, you can further support women’s health by offering tools and incentives specifically relating to women’s health. For example, you could offer prenatal yoga classes or mental health support for postpartum women. Additionally, if you offer health assessments, be sure they include women-specific tests.

You can also offer other women-specific resources, such as creating a relaxation room where women experiencing health-related symptoms can go if they need to rest.

 

Support your female employees with the help of Kaizen Health

Supporting female employees’ health is a key part of encouraging a healthy workplace and a successful business. At Kaizen Health, we provide services that support female health, including our educational workshops that cover a wide variety of topics and onsite health assessments that deliver female specific exercise and nutrition plans. We make sure our programmes are inclusive of women and provide them with the support and tools they need to thrive in the workplace.

To learn more about how Kaizen Health can support women’s health in the workplace, reach out today.

 

References:

  1. Leaker, D. (2021, October 11). Female Employment Rate (aged 16 to 64, seasonally adjusted). Female employment rate (aged 16 to 64, seasonally adjusted) – Office for National Statistics. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/timeseries/lf25/lms.
  2. Women and the economy – researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/SN06838/SN06838.pdf.
  3. Dixon-Fyle, S., Dolan, K., Hunt, V., & Prince, S. (2021, November 2). Diversity wins: How inclusion matters. McKinsey & Company. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/diversity-wins-how-inclusion-matters.
  4. (n.d.). Overview – Postnatal depression. NHS choices. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.nhs.uk/mental-health/conditions/post-natal-depression/overview/.
  5. Editor, F. E. N. (n.d.). Less than half of UK employers have a wellbeing strategy in place. FE News. Retrieved November 8, 2021, from https://www.fenews.co.uk/press-releases/62498-employee-mental-health-tops-the-challenges-facing-organisations-in-2021.
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