While it’s not yet clear exactly why more men than women are being impacted by Covid-19, there is clearly a distinct difference between men’s and women’s health. For example, men are less inclined to seek help or advice from a medical professional. In fact, a significant 39% of men will wait until pain is “unbearable” before considering a visit to the doctor and over a third will wait three weeks, enduring symptoms before seeking treatment.
Other excuses might include a lack of time, the fear of being told there’s something seriously wrong, or they’re embarrassed about their condition or having a personal examination. Whatever the symptoms, not seeking medical advice or treatment early on can make early detection or prognosis of what could be a more serious health issue more difficult. Workplace health initiatives can help tackle this.
Natalie Rogers, Unum HR Director commented: “It is an issue that men can tend to shy away from seeking support or talking openly about their health while at work. Workplace wellbeing initiatives that effectively engage with men could have a positive impact and help to close the gender health gap”.
To help, Natalie Rogers, HR Director for Unum UK has shared 5 top tips to help employers better support their male staff when managing workplace health:
- Think about the language you use
- The correct use of language is extremely important in the workplace, ensuring no one is offended, embarrassed or pressured to discuss their health. Promote open conversations and identify a neutral representative at work (in addition to the line manager) who can offer support anonymously.
- Accessible information
- Signposts to online portals or website links enables individuals to get confidential information at a time that suits them. For example, GP helplines, available 24/7, mean medical services are available whenever they’re needed and can provide a level of anonymity, making it easier for men to broach sensitive issues they may feel uncomfortable talking about face-to-face.
- Support on-the-go
- While GPs are generally very supportive, it may take time for individuals to get an appointment due to lack of resource. Unum’s Help@hand offers employees with easy access to five key support services through one easy-to-use app, including mental health support, physiotherapy and second opinion services with a UK-based private consultant.
- Internal messaging
- Personalise health messages as much as possible to create a higher degree of relevancy but this should be done in a sensitive and private way so as not to cause embarrassment.
- Neutral Ground
- Ask employees what they are interested in and want to know more about to build a dialogue. Explore what similarities and differences there are between the genders and develop health campaigns to create an inclusive ground.