As it has become increasingly obvious that men are more hesitant to seek help with their physical and mental health, many companies are tailoring their wellbeing initiatives to men, to help them live happier, healthier lives. However, despite the growing emphasis on men’s health, there are still significant disparities when it comes to how men and women approach their health and wellbeing.
Generally speaking, men are less likely to prioritize their own health and more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices than women. As a result, men consistently have a lower life expectancy, with women outliving them by approximately five years around the world. In addition to living shorter lives, men are also more likely to be smokers, to binge drink, and to suffer from high blood pressure.
“Men often avoid routine health maintenance out of concern that it will show weakness or the misguided notion that it is not needed,” said Dr. David Gremillion, MD, FACP, FIDSA, a retired professor at the UNC School of Medicine. “Increasingly, however, men understand that getting a routine checkup is a sign of strength, not weakness. Maintaining our health in body, mind, and spirit, is a sure pathway to healthy relationships, workplace effectiveness and safety, and improved quality of life.”
By designing employee wellbeing programs that are equally tailored to men and women, employers can help increase awareness and encourage men to live healthier lifestyles. Here’s how you can support men’s wellbeing at your organization.
Developing Employee Wellbeing Initiatives Tailored to Men
When designing a wellbeing program, a solid understanding of the health of your workforce and how different risks impact men versus women is essential for success. You can gain a more holistic understanding of your male employees’ health risks by conducting health assessments and leveraging biometric, demographic, and claims data and analytics to inform your wellbeing initiatives and deliver more targeted, personalized employee experiences for men and women alike.
Once you know the health issues your male employees are facing, you can design initiatives to proactively address them, encouraging new healthy habits, proactive self-management, and behavioral change. For example, you might invest in heart health initiatives, smoking cessation programs, or stress management and other mental health resources. Some employers also offer onsite care or incentives for annual screenings, which may be especially beneficial for men who are less likely to do so on their own.
Virgin Pulse’s digital platform can bring any and all of the above to life. We offer a number of flexible program configurations, as well as incentive management, challenges, analytics and reporting, health assessments, and lifestyle and condition management coaching. Basically, everything you need to build a culture of wellbeing that appeals to both men and women at your organization.
Ending the Mental Health Stigma for Men at Work
The stigma around mental health is an ever-present problem that impacts people all over the world — but for men, the stigma is even worse. Harmful preconceived notions about masculinity that were taught to boys when they were younger have led to a stigma of men not being willing to discuss their feelings, which may lead them to be further isolated and ultimately put them at a higher risk of suicide due to lack of outreach.
For instance, depression and anxiety are reportedly on the rise for working men, with male mental health risks rising to unseen levels since the onset of COVID-19. Globally, men also consistently have much higher suicide rates across all age groups, with white men accounting for nearly 70% of suicide deaths in 2019. That’s why it’s now more important than ever before that we take steps to put an end to the stigma once and for all, and prioritize the mental wellbeing of both male and female employees at work.
You can do this at your organization by providing educational resources to reduce stigma, offering free mental health counseling, and sharing stress management tips and outlets. Emphasize the importance of having open and honest conversations to increase awareness and build a safe space where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health struggles. This way, they’ll be more willing to access the resources they need, as opposed to suffering in silence.