A recent poll by digital health app, Peppy, revealed that 85% of working-age women have experienced at least four women’s health conditions. More shockingly, 65% of those women said that they turn to Google as their primary source for help with their health concerns.
When it comes to women’s health, colleagues are suffering in silence. It’s only now that workplaces are beginning to face up to the harsh realities of women’s health, how women’s health is impacting employees’ wellbeing and – ultimately – the knock-on impact on business.
It’s time for employers to take action to support women’s health with a new generation of wellbeing benefits, and it all starts with normalising the conversation.
What is women’s health?
Historically, ‘women’s health’ acted as a blanket term – spoken in hushed tones – for any ‘embarrassing’ issues to do with ‘down there’. But women’s health covers so much more than periods, obstetrics, gynaecology and the reproductive system, and it demands to be spoken about as ordinarily as the common cold.
Periods, ovulation, contraception, smear tests and UTIs. Physical and mental wellbeing. Lifestyle, fitness and nutrition. Common conditions (such as endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, fibroids) and less common conditions (like female-specific cancers). Sexual health. Breast health. Sleep health. Gut health. The list goes on.
To offer a complete health solution for women of every age and stage of life, women’s health support must be extensive and inclusive.
Last year, 85% of employers said that they had already addressed or planned to address women’s health as part of their wellbeing strategy. Here’s why.
Female colleagues are demanding more
In general, women today feel more empowered. They want to take ownership of their wellbeing and have access to support they can trust. As such, they are demanding more from their work.
As a society, we still have a long way to go until women feel they can speak openly about their health concerns – almost 2 in 3 women feel uncomfortable talking about their health issues at work. But the ‘Me Too’ movement and increased discussion of issues such as menopause have laid the foundations for conversations around women’s health to be started and become more mainstream.
Employers are beginning to understand the cost of women’s health
Firstly, women’s health is an issue for individual wellbeing: women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a mental health problem than their male counterparts.
Secondly, it’s an issue for attendance and performance: women are more likely than men to struggle with insomnia, and almost one-quarter of women have taken time off work because of their period in the past 6 months.
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Thirdly, and crucially for employers looking to close the gender pay gap, it’s an issue for talent attraction and retention: of the 1 in 10 women who have endometriosis, 31% have reduced their working hours and 27% have had to change or leave their job as a result.
As employers know only too well, right now there is a war on talent. A benefits package which supports a workforce’s wider ambitions is essential in order for an employer to position itself as a destination employer.
The rise of workplace women’s health solutions
Since the pandemic, next-generation employee wellbeing benefits have brought the power of preventative, gender-specific healthcare into the spotlight. What’s more, digital health solutions have made it easier than ever before for employers to support their workforce.
Digital health app, Peppy, is one example. Peppy built its name by working with progressive companies (Santander, Novartis, Clifford Chance) to offer specialist support for fertility, pregnancy and early parenthood, menopause and men’s health. Recently, we have expanded our women’s health support to offer employers and their people a complete health solution.
On the Peppy app, employees can connect one-to-one with highly-trained women’s health experts, over chat and video consultations. They can access quick answers, videos, audio series, articles and live events covering a wide range of common and less common women’s health topics, all at the touch of a button.
This new generation of employee benefits gives female colleagues (and those who were assigned female at birth or self-identify as a woman) the power to take control of their health with trustworthy, confidential advice.
What’s more, solutions like Peppy open the door for HR teams, line managers and employees to discuss the health issues that are impacting their workforce – a crucial first step for organisations committed to supporting their people.
You can hear first hand how to normalise the conversation around women’s health in your workplace at Peppy’s upcoming event. Register here. [https://hubs.li/Q016VbK_0]
About the author
Mridula Pore is the Co-CEO and Co-Founder of digital heath app Peppy.
 REBA Employee Wellbeing Research 2021.