Balance for Better: How to Empower Working Women’s Health

Posted by Preet Pall on Mar 5, 2019 10:05:50 AM

With International Women’s Day around the corner, there’s no better time to learn about the health challenges female employees face.

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Professional women are often sandwiched between work, childcare, and other responsibilities. Some may feel guilty taking time to care for themselves! As a result, many female employees overwork or neglect their health, with serious impacts on their happiness and productivity. Unhealthy employees also increase absenteeism and disability costs, affecting your company’s bottom line.

Click here to learn how an employee wellness program can improve team  productivity and your bottom line >>

Let’s take a look at the three most common working women’s health issues, and what you can do to prevent them.

3 Most Common Working Women's Health Issues

1. The Working Female Health Problem: Muscle and Joint Pain

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Women are at higher risk for carpal tunnel syndrome than men because their carpal tunnel is smaller. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also increase pressure in the bones and ligaments, speeding the onset of symptoms.

Mild numbness or tingling in the fingers are key indicators of the syndrome, especially in the thumb, index, middle, and ring fingers. If untreated, it can cause median nerve damage, a loss of sensation in the hand, and an inability to feel temperature.

Back Pain

Backache also disproportionately affects women. While a quarter of adult males suffer from lower back pain, nearly a third of females do!

This may be because the female muscular support system isn’t as strong as the male’s system. In addition, women are often exposed to physical work that men aren’t, such as household chores or holding a baby for a long period of time, increasing their risk even further.

Back pain is uncomfortable and distracting in the short term, and can become chronic if it goes untreated.

Want some tips to help prevent your employees from work-related back pain? See also: Worried about Work-Related Back Pain? Here’s How to Prevent It?

2. The Hidden Female Health Problem: Depression

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Women are also twice as likely to as men to suffer from depression. This challenging condition hurts their health, happiness, and work performance.

The hormonal fluctuations of women’s reproductive cycles may be one reason they are at higher risk for depression. They also experience more distress than men, adding to the problem.

Symptoms of depression in women include:

  • Anxiety and panic attacks

  • Overeating

  • Feel sad, worthless, or apathetic

  • and more.

To learn more about how you can support your employees with depression, see also: How Can Employers Manage Depression in the Workplace.

3. The Leading Female Health Problem: Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in Canadian women, and is especially dangerous for those of working age. While only 12% of cancer-related deaths occur in women aged 60 and older, 21% occur in those aged 30-59.

The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more treatable it is. Yet, women under 50 are not actively targeted for breast cancer screening, clinical trials, or research.

As an employer, encourage female staff over the age of 40 to do regular self-checks and speak with their doctor about being screened. Make sure everyone is aware of the common risk factors, including:

  • Obesity

  • Smoking

  • High alcohol consumption

  • and more.

On top of these three issues, heart diseases, osteoporosis, and autoimmune diseases are very common health concerns among women.

As an employer, understanding all of these conditions is essential. Let’s take a look at some simple health tips for women, and how you can support your female employees better.

3 Ways to Help Your Female Employees Prevent Them

1. Provide Health Tips for Working Women

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A healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent most women’s health issues. As an employer, you can encourage staff to make these changes for better wellbeing:

  1. Quit smoking (or, better yet, never start!)

  2. Exercise regularly: maintain proper posture to avoid back pain down the road, and do daily hand and wrist stretches to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.

  3. Enjoy a healthy diet.  

Sharing healthy living articles through staff newsletters or internal emails is one easy way to get the word out to your team. Wellness-themed lunch-and-learns can also help.

2. Implement an Employee Wellness Program

women-health-slide-8Introducing an employee wellness program is another great way to promote healthy living at work—especially among female employees.

Physical inactivity is generally more prevalent among women, due to socio-economic factors such as lower income and cultural expectations. Employee wellness programs can help by providing access to physical activities, healthcare education, and social support.

Even better, these programs can be customized to meet women’s needs. For example, a wellness program could include regular workshops on women’s health issues, or provide regular screening services for common conditions.

Read also Here’s Why Employee Wellness Programs are So Important to learn why implementing an employee wellness program is one of the best investments you can make.

3. Offer Flexible Employee Benefits

Flexibility at work is another effective way to protect women’s health. By providing adaptable benefits coverage, such as a Health Spending Account (HSA), you can empower employees to seek out the wellness treatments they need most.

You can also encourage staff to work from home if they need extra time to prioritize their well-being. Finally, offering online physician visits as part of your employee benefits package can help break down geographic and financial barriers, makes it easier for staff to see a doctor without having to travel far or take time off work.

Conclusion

Staying healthy can be tough for professional women, especially when life gets busy! By brushing up on these three common women’s health issues and how to prevent them, you can help your team lead happier, more productive lives—now, and for years to come.

Next Step

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Topics: Wellness

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