Women's Health at Work: How to Support it?
The women’s history month is here. What better time than this to address one of the most critical problems prevalent in every corporate? - women’s health.
As much as we see the growth in females across all job industries, it will be accurate to say that there is still a long way to go. I mean, more than 50% of women in the U.S are in the labor force, and even then, specific health provisions for women do not adequately exist.
Women employees face a lot of workplace challenges, especially those relating to health. And as they spend most of their time at the office, their health issues must be given importance. And, female employees are more prone to work-related carpal tunnel syndrome cases, respiratory diseases, anxiety, stress, and whatnot.
However, it is essential to understand that sensitivity to workplace hazards will vary for both men and women. Workplace challenges faced by men will be a lot different than women.
Health Hazards in the Workplace
Times have changed, haven't they? I mean, things are different now and way better in terms of gender equality, yet being a woman is not easy. There are still a lot of things to be worked upon. And work premises are one of them. Workplace scenes need to evolve on a large scale, and many concerns yet to be addressed.
When it comes to women’s health issues at work, male counterparts fail to understand the intensity.
So, let's have a look at some of the common health problems women face at work.
1. Reproductive issues
Reproductive health issues are one of the most common and critical matters of concern for women. And more than 75% of working women are of reproductive age.
And in the absence of paid maternity leaves at several places, pregnant working mothers do come to the office. And while working, there are high chances of the expecting baby being affected by her work exposures. This is a risk which women are often bound to take.
Also, the concept of menstrual leave is not taken into consideration either. Thus, managing period at work becomes extremely difficult with hormonal changes and mood swings, especially if the period comes bearing cramps.
In that case, workplaces can turn very chaotic, thereby driving employees crazy.
- Paid Maternity Leave
- Women cell to deal with women health issues
- Menstrual provisions
- Paid Menstrual Leave
As it is known, physiologically, men and women are not the same. It can be why musculoskeletal disorders- injuries of muscles, joints, arms, legs- are more prominent in women than in men.
And, one of the reasons behind this disorder may be the sedentary lifestyle prevalent these days.
Sitting in front of the system all day long does take a toll on both genders' physical health. But since there are biological differences between men and women, this disorder is found most amongst women than in men.
- Office standing desks
- Walking meetings
3. Workplace Stress
When your employees panic and are anxious all the time, stress will never leave their side. It is seen that illness due to work pressure develops more in women.
And, together with work stress comes heart disease, depression, and whatnot. This directly affects productivity.
Women are often solely responsible for balancing family and work. It puts an additional burden on them. And, when they fail to maintain that, both their mental and physical health takes a hit.
During times like this, you as an employer need to launch corporate wellness programs in the workplace. This will help keep the employees engaged in activities and refresh minds amid their hectic work schedules.
Besides, women who work in insecure jobs are always on their toes, in fear of losing their jobs.
In the 8 hours of work, employees are exposed to so many substances, good and bad. And the passive lifestyle pattern prevents us from doing physical activities too.
To top it, employees often start taking cigarette breaks to relieve stress among their hectic work schedules. Smoking is a threat to both women and men, and not to sugarcoat; it straightaway gives you cancer.
Besides, a flawed diet plan and no exercise also add to the cancer risk. Seeing all these, the healthy routine disappears, and these newly found habits lead to cancer development.
- Smoke Cessation Programs
- Office Canteen with healthy food items
5. Protective Equipment
Workplaces generally have equipment designed for emergency purposes. And more often than not, the clothing equipment is made for average-sized men. In cases like this, women may feel insecure and have safety issues.
Also, what is the point if protective equipment cannot even give protection to half of your workforce?
- Provisions of personal protective equipment- respirators, work boots, work gloves, etc.
Tips on how to encourage Women’s Health Care at Work
While women’s history month is on, corporates should grab this opportunity to encourage the female employees to prioritize their health over everything else. Likewise, companies need to contemplate women’s health issues more seriously, considering women, these days, make up nearly half of the workforce.
First things first, employers ought to create awareness about women's health affairs and inspire healthy workplaces.
So, looking for ideas? No worries, we got you covered.
Motivate your female employees to take proper care of themselves by offering them resources revolving around women’s health. These resources will further make them aware of how to deal with the many women's health issues.
Engage your female staff in healthy physical activities every once in a while. Also, make it enjoyable by asking them to click pictures of the same and post on social media with apt hashtags, thereby motivating women worldwide.
As an employer, one of the sweetest gestures you can make for your women employees is by booking appointments for health exams. This would keep their health in check along with the notion that you care, thus earning yourself employee loyalty.
4. Smoking Cessation Programs
Cigarettes are often called women's worst enemy. As per research, every year, around 200,000 women die of health issues concerning smoking. It messes up with the entire reproductive system of women on a wrong scale. So, they deserve to know and be aware of the same. To address this issue, you should carry out smoking cessation programs in the workplace.
5. Women’s Health Issue Facts
Make it a routine to send health-related facts to your female employees to keep them interested and curious to know more. This way, there will be constant reminders for them to make their health a priority.
6. Separate space
Provide a separate room for female employees to go to when they need some time out for themselves. At times, they might go through mood swings, especially during PMS. So, space is something which should be given to them. Also, a breastfeeding room can do a lot of good for new mothers.
7. Health Assessments
As an employer, you should conduct health assessments for your employees- both men and women. And, to ensure good health for the female staff, you could go the extra mile. Include gender-specific tests in those health assessments and support the women in your organization.
Don't you think it is a good idea if the female staff had a say in the various interventions? Especially when you are holding events for them, taking their opinions on those will matter a lot. In fact, they will better understand what is good and supportive to them. So, just do a survey and take women employees' feedback.
Hold workshops and invite renowned speakers, preferably women, to speak on relevant topics advocating women's health at work. Also, you could ask the senior management to share their own stories concerning the issue, thereby making female employees conscious about their health.
10. Flexible Work Culture
Flexible work culture is vital, irrespective of any gender. Many female-related emergencies can arise up in terms of health. In a situation as such, if the work culture is flexible, the women in your office feel more relieved and at ease. They can sometimes tend to their needs if necessary and leave for home early, especially during that time of the month.
So, offering a flexible workplace is not a bad idea now, is it?
When the women workforce is well and sound, the productivity levels will automatically increase for them and the organization. Employers must make proper strategies to manage the physical and psychological problems faced by women in the workplace.
It’s high time to promote equality at work on a fundamental basis.
So, let’s not allow women’s health conditions be dismissed as a non-issue anymore.
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