Navigating separate health strategies for women and men
Men and women have distinct health concerns, prompting many companies to consider implementing tailored health and wellbeing strategies.
However, with some employees not identifying as either male or female, or some who have changed gender since birth, companies need to be as inclusive as possible.
Gender isn’t the only factor to consider when developing health and wellbeing strategies. Different age groups within genders may have varying health concerns. It is therefore crucial that employers have an inclusive strategy with campaigns that support all employees.
Pros of gender specific health campaigns
There are some clear benefits of adopting gender specific health campaigns.
Establishing tailored strategies can provide more focused assistance, especially for gender-specific issues. For instance, women may require guidance on menopause and female cancers and employers can proactively support women by adapting strategies to meet their specific needs.
Having separate strategies can also address certain age-specific health concerns, such as managing periods, perimenopause, menopause, or fertility issues. This kind of focus can help to support someone’s performance or improve attraction and retention, and reduce absence levels.
Equally, men are less likely to visit a GP and are more likely to be overweight as they age, so programmes targeted at men to help spot the symptoms of diseases such as testicular cancer early or promote nutrition and fitness could be beneficial.
By adopting separate strategies companies can piggyback national campaigns that can raise awareness of certain conditions, promote early detection and encourage healthy behaviours.
Breast Cancer Awareness month in October, for instance, could be an opportunity to have a dedicated women’s health month, while November could provide the focus for men’s wellbeing with initiatives such as Movember that male employees can get involved with.
Building campaigns around national health and wellbeing events can be cost-effective and provide a wealth of readily available resources. Charities, health organisations, and government bodies often support these events with promotional materials and campaigns. By aligning themselves with these events businesses benefit from heightened employee engagement which can boost effectiveness.
Cons: don’t forget inclusivity
Ensuring inclusivity needs to be considered carefully. The UK legally recognises only male and female genders, but there are numerous gender identities. Employers must avoid alienating any employees by fostering a workplace with inclusive language and strategies that respect all individuals.
Also, all employees, regardless of gender identification, should have a basic understanding of health concerns that affect other genders. Managers need to be well-informed about both male and female health issues to support their teams effectively.
When implementing separate strategies, ensure that resources and information are accessible to all. Consider options like webinars to cater to those uncomfortable with in-person events.
Some issues, initially perceived as female-only concerns (eg, breast cancer), also affect men, though rarely, so it is important not to exclude genders during campaigns.
Separating women’s and men’s health strategies should be done thoughtfully as part of an overall health and wellbeing strategy. Effective communication and adaptable programme positioning are vital.
To get the right balance, employers can analyse employee demographics, especially age, to target relevant support effectively.
Balanced strategies that address specific gender-related health concerns, while maintaining inclusivity and knowledge sharing, should be the goal. Ultimately, the aim is to foster a workplace culture that promotes wellbeing for all employees, regardless of gender or age.
Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing can help with all aspects of developing a health and wellbeing strategy that meets the diverse needs of the workforce, whether it’s for a small start-up or a multinational corporation.
In partnership with Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing
Howden provides insurance broking, risk management and claims consulting services, globally. We work with clients of all sizes to provide dedicated employee benefits & wellbeing consultancy.