Men's Health Week: What can employers do to help?

Tips for raising awareness of men’s health in your workplace this Men’s Health Week.

First published on Wednesday, Jun 12, 2024

Last updated on Monday, Jun 10, 2024

6 min read

From the 10th to the 16th of June 2024 we mark International Men’s Health Week.

This is an opportunity for us to reflect on the worrying statistics specifically regarding men’s health in Australia. For example:

There are many reasons why these grim statistics persist. Lifestyle, eating and drinking habits, and socioeconomic factors, all play a part.

But one factor affecting Australian men’s health outcomes is the fact that compared to women, men visit their doctor more infrequently, have shorter visits, and only take that step when their illness is in its latter stages.

Rigid beliefs of masculinity and manhood, plus the stigma around men talking about and addressing their health struggles contribute to this. So, what can employers do to help improve men’s health outcomes?

Promote open communication

Our societal beliefs and pressures can have men feeling like discussing their feelings and health issues in the open makes them seem vulnerable and weak. Challenging these notions isn’t easy, but what you can do is create an open culture of communication at work.

When your staff feel that your business and its leaders prioritise their wellbeing, acknowledge their health needs, and set a good example for the rest of the team—you’re setting the right tone for your workplace.

Create an open-door culture and opportunities to check in on your team, so you can spot any early signs of ill health or stress. When you’re able to build this kind of supportive environment, everyone feels more at ease to talk about what’s bothering them.

Invest in men’s health and fitness initiatives

Let’s face it, the workplace isn’t an environment that encourages much physical movement. Employees often spend most of their day seated at their desks for much of the day, which isn’t great for physical or mental health.

Investing in health and fitness initiatives is a great way to get staff moving and encourage physical health. But for these initiatives to have an impact, they need to be tailored to your workforce.

For example, if you’re aiming to get the men in your teams to be more active, you could send out a survey to learn what activities would engage them.

After-work sports activities like futsal, basketball, touch football, and Oztag are great ways to get your team invested in their physical fitness.

With men typically having fewer sources of social support than women, team sports not only help increase their physical health, but can help forge lasting friendships and a circle of support they can lean on.

Subsidised gym memberships are a good alternative for those who aren’t keen on the thought of team sports or group exercise. You could also provide healthy snacks in the office to help your team make healthier choices and incorporate standing desks or walking meetings to get people moving.

BrightHR’s online marketplace offers all customers access to a range of cost-saving fitness perks for your staff. Discover more about our employee perks platform here.

Take steps to reduce workplace stress

Stress is one of the leading causes of workplace absences and the effects of stress can have a major impact on health. High blood pressure, sleep issues, depression, increased risk of heart attack, diabetes, increased susceptibility to infection, and disease to name a few.

But the effects don’t stop there—behaviour is also affected, and poor psychological safety can result in destructive behaviours. For example, men suffering from depression are twice as likely as women to abuse alcohol and drugs.

So, what can you do to reduce stress in the workplace? Start by understanding what you can control, and what you can't. Be aware of the signs of stress so you can spot early signs, foster open communication, and make sure your workers are taking necessary breaks!

Find out more about reducing stress with our resource, 6 ways of combatting stress in the workplace.

Provide flexible working options

Women are far more likely to have regular contact with doctors because of reproductive issues to do with menstruation, contraception, pregnancy, and menopause. Because men don’t have similar reasons to have a regular touchpoint with a health professional, they’re less likely to seek help at the right time.

As an employer, one way you can encourage men to have regular, and potentially life-saving health checks is by giving them some flexibility over their working hours. This helps make sure the men on your team don’t feel like the reason they’re not looking after their health as they should is because they’re unable to take time away from work.

Monitor absence

Health problems ultimately lead to increased sick leave, and this can hurt your business. The problem for many companies is that they aren’t able to monitor absences with ease and don’t have the right policies in place to address these situations.

Only by monitoring absence can you start to see the true cost of absence to your business and employees. And from there, you can start to discover any potential underlying health trends.

If a trend is discovered, you can conduct return-to-work interviews, or informal meetings, to touch base with your employee about the reasons behind any absences. Though you could find that it’s an issue outside of your control, you may also find that there is something you can do, allowing you to put steps in place to support your team and reduce or even eliminate ill-health-related absences.

Need more support this International Men’s Health Week and beyond?

Find out how BrightHR can help your business with HR tools and tips to improve men’s health and communication with your staff.

Please refer to the list below for more resources and organisations designed to support men’s health in Australia:

Beyond Blue

Australian Men's Shed Association

Australian Men’s Health Forum

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