Workplace health is a critical concern for both employees and employers, but it’s often discussed and presented in a general context. Men’s health, however, presents a unique set of challenges. In this article, we’ll delve into the specific risks that men face in the workplace, how that varies according to seniority, and some tips for male employees and employers to effectively mitigate for these risks.
Men’s health should not be overlooked
It’s reassuring that discussions about men’s health are gaining momentum, with initiatives like “Movember” focusing on men’s health issues and encouraging open conversations. However, there remains considerable stigma and challenges around awareness, engagement, gender norms associated with strength and resilience, and fear of repercussion for speaking up. All of which contribute to a situation where men are less likely to seek support or medical consultation for their health concerns.
From a business perspective, regardless of what we think of gender disparity in the workplace, the current reality is that men occupy significantly more positions of leadership.
- In 2021, men held 71% of senior management roles globally – Grant Thornton International
- Men occupy 68% of C-suite roles in North America and 70% in Western Europe. Moreover, Men held approximately 84% of board seats in global Fortune 500 companies – Deloitte (2020)
When a leader’s health declines it can create particularly challenging circumstances for organisations and their employees, and thus men’s health should not be understimated as a very real and present risk factor for businesses. The costs and disruption associated with extended leader absence and short-notice severance are significant and include legal, reputational, operational, and cultural implications that can take months if not years to recover from.
Men’s Health Risks in the Workplace
Occupational Injuries and Fatalities:
Men are more likely to be employed in high-risk industries like construction, manufacturing, and agriculture, which are associated with a higher incidence of occupational injuries and fatalities. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), men accounted for approximately 92% of all workplace fatalities in 2020.
Stress and Mental Health Issues:
Work-related stress and mental health concerns are pervasive issues for men in the workplace. A 2019 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that men often experience higher levels of job strain, which can contribute to anxiety and depression.
Men are more likely to engage in risky behaviours, such as excessive alcohol consumption and drug abuse. These issues can affect productivity and safety. A study published in JAMA Network Open in 2020 found that the prevalence of alcohol use disorders was higher among employed men.
Lack of Work-Life Balance:
Men often face challenges in maintaining a work-life balance, which can lead to stress and strain. The expectation to be the primary breadwinners and the societal pressure to prioritize career success can hinder personal well-being.
Variances according to seniority
As with most wellbeing topics ‘one-size-does-not-fit-all’ and there is considerable evidence that demonstrates that job seniority plays a significant role in men’s health risks and thus the associated preventative and reactive support they may need.
Entry-Level Positions: Men in entry-level positions may face specific health risks related to job insecurity, lower income, and the stress of proving themselves in their careers. They may also have less control over their work environment and schedules.
Mid-Level Management: Middle managers often face the dual pressure of meeting targets set by senior leadership while managing the demands of their teams. This can lead to increased stress and work-related health risks.
Senior Executives (C-suite): Senior executives, often experience unique health risks due to the high levels of responsibility, long work hours, and intense pressure to make strategic decisions. They may also face lifestyle-related health challenges as they balance demanding careers with personal life.
What can male employees do to help themselves?
Prioritise Safety: If you work in a high-risk industry, make safety a top priority. A
Seek Mental Health Support: Don’t hesitate to seek help for mental health concerns.
Stay Active: If your job requires you to sit for long periods, try to stay physically active outside of work or during lunchbreaks etc.
Manage Stress: Practicing relaxation techniques, time management, and setting realistic expectations for yourself can help take the pressure off.
Communicate About Work-Life Balance: Don’t be afraid to discuss work-life balance with your employer.
What can employers of men do to safeguard their health and wellbeing?
Provide Comprehensive Safety Training: Ensure that all employees, especially those in high-risk industries, receive thorough safety training.
Offer Mental Health Support: Implement mental health programs and policies that encourage employees to seek help when needed. Create campaigns to promote these that are specifically targeted at men.
Promote Physical Activity: Encourage physical activity by offering gym memberships or organizing group fitness activities. Create a workspace that promotes movement, such as standing desks or walking meetings, and use male leaders to role model the use of these.
Substance Abuse Assistance: Develop policies that address substance abuse issues in a non-punitive manner. Provide resources for employees struggling with addiction and support their recovery efforts. Train colleagues to spot the signs of substance abuse and provide channels for them to raise concerns.
Support Work-Life Balance: Recognize the importance of work-life balance and implement policies that enable employees to achieve it.
Much of the insights and guidance explored in this article apply to women as much as men. However, it can be helpful to segment and target workplace wellbeing investments to different groups. The messaging, activities, and support available can be specifically designed and positioned to different groups, to drive greater awareness and engagement across all groups. Your marketing teams will have extensive experience of this from a customer perspective, and their knowledge could be very helpful in shaping more impactful internal communications for wellbeing.
Movember corporate activities
Across the UAE, I am offering 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘵𝘢𝘭𝘬 activities for organization’s in partnership with my Men’s Health Partner Network. It’s designed to be low-intensity, high-impact, and affordable.
- Colleagues meet at a beach or park location
- We take an interactive walk together considering key issues related to Men’s health (physical, social, and mental)
- We stop for an interactive workshop and discussion covering related topics, providing tips, and discussing challenges in a safe and supportive environment.
- We then take a walk back to our starting point reflecting on the discussions and learnings.
The activity lasts 90-minutes.
The walking element is not essential but walking adds multiple additional benefits including physical health, stress relief, improved ideas creation, social interaction, and connection with nature.
👩 We also host similar experiences for women, either covering Men’s health and how they can support their male friends and relatives, or covering women’s health instead.
Should this be of interest, please get in touch.