Ten actions to improve men’s health in the workplace
07 November 2022
This Men’s Health Awareness month, Howden Employee Benefits & Wellbeing is giving employers tips to improve men’s health as its revealed men in the UK typically die 3.5 years younger than women, for largely preventable reasons[i].
In a new guide, ‘Men’s Health in the Workplace’, Howden details ten actions employers can take to support men and reduce the stigma around talking about men’s health and wellbeing. It outlines why employers need to focus on men’s health; the vital role of employee benefits and how to increase engagement and get the messaging right, along with practical advice and tips.
Research from the UK charity Men’s Health Forum[ii] highlights that one in five men die before they reach the age of 65 in the UK. Up to 75% of all premature deaths due to heart disease are male – and 67% of men are overweight. In addition, alarming statistics reveal that as many as four out of five suicides are male.
Men’s Health Awareness month is organised by Movember, the leading charity changing the face of men’s health on a global scale, focusing on mental health and suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer. They highlight:
- Testicular cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in young men aged between 15 and 34[iii]
- Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in UK men. 1 in 8 men will receive a diagnosis for prostate cancer in their lifetime[iv].
- In 2020, the UK lost 4,646 men to suicide[v]. Globally one man dies of suicide every single minute[vi]
- The impact of COVID-19 has caused a fall in male life expectancy in the UK for the first time in 40 years[vii].
Mark Fosh, Director of SME at Howden says, “The statistics around men’s health are stark, and they can be exacerbated by a historical reluctance for men to seek help. Our new guide aims to help businesses change these statistics by helping them to understand men’s health better and suggesting actions employers can take to support the men in their workforce.
“Men sometimes have a perception that health is a ‘women’s issue’. So, the language used in health messaging is important if you want to reach everyone.Taking a proactive approach to meeting the needs of male employees could help improve performance, talent attraction and retention, and reduce rates of absence due to sickness. It could even save lives.”
Below are ten actions employers can take immediately to make a difference:
- Share relevant information about their employee benefits and the services available. Consider the employee benefits you offer and whether or not they fully support the needs of men in your business. Some employers are enhacing their benefits to include cover and support for gender specific health issues. Ensure that benefits are widely communicated so people know how to access them when needed.
- Encourage male employees to attend medical appointments, both virtually and in-person, by offering flexibility for these to take place within work hours. Offering a virtual GP service can also help men to attend appointments at a time and place that suits them.
- If your employees are sitting behind a desk most of the time, it’s not great for their physical or mental health. Health and wellbeing initiatives are a great way to get everyone moving. Why not consider a sports club after work or subsidised gym memberships as a way to encourage everyone to look after their physical health. Health and wellbeing apps, such as Howden’s Be Well World, include activity challenges and simple and effective ways to increase exercise levels.
- Listen to your employees. The best way to have a highly engaged and relevant wellbeing programme, is to hear the needs of the employees before creating the strategy. By issuing a survey and holding focus groups, you can discover what the needs of your staff are and then bring in the most appropriate solutions to support them.
- Mental health support is often available through health insurance cover. This typically includes an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) which can offer employees access to specialist counselling. Don’t forget there are lots of free resources available. Signpost employees to charities such as Samaritans, Mind and Mates in Mind.
- Keep talking about men’s health as it will promote action and can be a valuable way to support employees. National awareness campaigns, like #Menshealthweek and #Movember, are a great way for employers to cover these important topics. They are also a way for employees to show that men’s health issues matter and create a feeling of community and support in the workplace.
- Encourage health screens for men as part of an overall benefits package. This could include screenings for prostate and testicular cancers, cardiovascular health as well as mental health assessments.
- Train and educate line managers on supporting men's health & wellbeing to enable them to spot signs of poor mental and physical wellbeing. Ensure your managers are aware of resources or appropriate organisations they can signpost their employees to.
- Ensure employees know who to speak to at work if they have health concerns for instance an Occupational Health Nurse or Mental Health Ambassador or First Aider.
- Encourage them to take breaks, switch off emails after work and provide help with their workloads. This can help to reduce stress.
Leo Savage, Global wellbeing consultant at Howden adds, “Once employers have a better understanding of some of the health conditions and challenges men can face, the next step is to review the support available within the workplace and ensure its fit for purpose.“Taking action to support men’s health will let your employees know they are valued and supported throughout their working lives, helping you to reduce sickness absence, boost performance and attract the best talent to your organisation.”
To download the free ‘Men’s Health in the Workplace’ guide click here.