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The need for gender specific corporate wellness programs for working women

Working women are looking for more gender-specific corporate wellness programs from their employers. According to the 2019 Cigna 360 Well-being survey, there is a significantly increased feeling of stress among working women than men. Balancing professional commitment at the workplace and personal commitments at home are creating more stress in working women the report says.

Key highlights of the report:

woman feel stressed in maintaining work-life balance

  • 79% of women feel more stressed in maintaining work-life balance compared to 66% men.
  • 10% of this highly-stressed category feels their stress is unmanageable.
  • Top stress triggers for working women in the UK include too much work pressure (17%), personal health issues (13%) and financial concerns (13%).
  • 78% of women are not getting enough sleep compared to 65% of men.

61% of working women feel the necessity of gender-specific corporate wellness programs:

working woman exercisingFrom a global perspective, an astounding 88% of working women are feeling overly stressed compared to 85% of men. 13% of them are experiencing unmanageable stress vs 11% men. This may lead to an assumption that women in international designations are likely to juggle with work and family commitments along with business travel and time zones adjustments.

Only 28% of working women are following a balanced diet compared to 38% men.  28% of working women are exercising regularly compared to 36% men.  Men are getting more sleeping hours, take regular workouts and lead healthier lives.

Employers need to arrange for gender-specific corporate wellness programs to help women meet their additional wellbeing needs.

Why the need for gender-specific corporate wellness programs?

work life balance This is because women’s wellness needs are different from men. Women’s physical and mental makeup varies a lot with that of men. Our societal mindset always looks upon women as uncompromising caregivers.  These put lots of pressure both at home and at the workplace that significantly affects their wellness.

Of all demographics taken for the survey, it has been found that working women within the age group 35-49 are the worst sufferers.  They are in the danger zone of impaired productivity and performance when it comes to manage operations and drive growth.

Women feel they are under constant judgment for wanting to give 100% to the workplace and family commitments. This is a big stressor. Other stressors are poor health, unhealthy work culture and lack of proper support.

To meet the demands amidst the time and resource constraints:

  • Women engage in less physical activities than men
  • Women show increased sedentary behavior than men
  • Women are less inclined to follow routine fitness checkups.

Women must thrive for businesses to thrive:

Health and wellness related programs when prioritized and focused on the needs of women help the organization to retain the best talent for long and drive business growth.  The best approach to establish gender-specific corporate wellness programs is to widen the understanding of what is required to help women thrive in all respects.

Gender-specific corporate wellness programs for working women:

1. Set the basics right:

Gender inequalityNo wellness program can yield if the basics remain faulty. Gender inequality is still a big societal blemish that is holding back progress and prosperity of women deterring the growth of both the women workforce and the organization.

  • Reduce the gender-pay gap:

Women-led businesses are great stock bets noticed by the Wall Street. In spite of this, the glaring issue of gender pay gap is very much in existence. Earning less than the male counterparts for the same or even better performance for similar valued jobs is a big stressor.

Women feel incapacitated. They push themselves more to level their earnings with men workers. They get overstressed. Fixing the pay gap not only takes care of women wellbeing but also makes them feel secured and demanded which ultimately boosts the organization growth.

  • Give due promotions:

Under-representing women on the pretext of their family commitments do not benefit the organization and the working women. The continuous feeling of deprivation eats away the motivation leading to compromised productivity and work performance.

2. Acknowledge and respect the family commitments of women:

Women with family commitments should not be seen as less eligible for employment or promotion. If having a family is considered as a bonus for potential men workers, the same should hold true for women workers as well.

The organizations can provide family support solutions for female workers and nurture a dedicated workforce beneficial for the company. Extending paternity leave along with the maternity leave can take better care of women. This is to acknowledge that caring for the newborn is a joint responsibility not an entirely mom’s job.

3. Redesign the office:

frequent breaks in between working scheduleThis goes beyond providing more natural light and lactation room for nursing mothers. Privacy is important for women. They may not feel comfortable with open space plans.  Arrange special napping pods and resting areas for pregnant women considering their requirement of additional rest hours.

Allow them frequent breaks in between working schedule. Provide time allowance for antenatal care. Women should also have control in setting room heaters and air-coolers and other gadgets according to their convenience. The workplace should not be entirely the men’s world.

4. Extend support for reproductive and gynecological problems:

A majority of working women is likely to suffer from one or more gynecological issues that need regular medical attention. Not many are willing to disclose these to their managers. A fear of losing the job or getting labeled as bad performer dwells.

This is where the gender-specific corporate wellness programs come to their support. To make the corporate health initiative to be effective, women’s issues need to be counted to maintain a healthy female workforce.

5. Schedule flexible working hours:

Flexible working hoursFlexible working hours and allowing work from home can take away much of the stress from women. This is a universal want for married, unmarried and working mothers.  Gender-specific corporate wellness programs can also include shorter working weeks.

6. Initiating employee assistance programs:

Balancing work and motherhood can be overwhelming and stressful. Though employee assistance programs are open to both male and female employees, there should be professional counseling specializing in women’s mental health.

They can guide women to manage stress in working women recommending ways to maintain a well-balanced work and family life. They help women to stay calm while encountering a variety of issues at the workplace and at home. These free counseling sessions go a long way in reducing absenteeism and increasing employee satisfaction.

7. Physical wellness programs:

Physical wellness programsGender-specific wellness programs need to address the special healthcare needs of women. A mere arrangement of gym, fitness trackers or workout spaces won’t serve the purpose.  While on-site gyms are good but there should be specialized physical fitness programs designed exclusively for women.

Specially trained coaches can be hired to take care of the unique physical and nutritional needs of women.  Creating sponsored support groups is another great way to improve women wellness. These groups can be weight loss groups, walking together groups, working mother groups and the like. Working women can share their interest and take valuable tips to maintain themselves in a better manner.

8. Specialized online programs:

Online programs can be an important feature of gender-specific corporate wellness programs. Women would like to take charge of their wellness in their own place. They can take their own sweet time to maintain their physical and mental wellness. These are beyond the traditional wellness programs and are crafted by professionals specializing in women wellness.

For example, online meditation programs spanning from 10 minutes to one hour can help working women to introspect and find perspective amidst a busy schedule. This will leave them refreshed and help to focus in a better manner. Online wellness programs can be given free or charged a nominal subscription fee.

9. Health seminars:

Health seminars Only workplace wellness programs won’t work unless all working women are aware of their health and wellness. Companies can pull in experts from different fields and conduct regular seminars to educate women about a variety of health issues and ways to prevent or manage them.  They can team up with health insurance providers to select specialists. Healthcare cost of women employees can be lowered if they select these specialists from seminars.

The seminars can throw light on women’s nutrition and fitness ranging from diet, cancer, maternity, pregnancy and other gynecological issues. Women will feel more cared and offer their best contribution to the organization’s growth.

10. Make them feel happy:

Nothing can work better if employees are happy. Free food or offering free taxi service and other perks are taken as ploys to keep employees engaged in office beyond the scheduled working hours.

Organizations can allow more time to spend beyond work hours. They can eliminate time-killing nonproductive activities and allow working women to enjoy more personal time. This would allow them to recharge reducing their stress significantly.

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