Making It Work: Empowering Women’s Health in the Workplace
With Women’s Health Week being all about knowledge, it’s essential to shine a spotlight on the significant impact that women’s health can have on our professional lives and overall well-being.
Consider for a moment that Women comprise 47.9% of all employed persons in Australia. With the workforce participation rate among those aged 15-64 years being 76.2% for women. You can see why health for women in the workplace is an important issue for everyone.
As a busy mother and businesswoman, myself, I understand the importance of addressing women’s health needs in the workplace, not just for fairness but also for fostering a thriving workforce. From leave entitlements for health reasons to exercise support and work-from-home options, it’s high time to recognise and uplift women’s health and wellbeing at work.
The Influence of Women’s Health on Employment
As women, our health profoundly influences our ability to perform at our best in the workplace. Whether we face menstruation-related challenges, pregnancy, or menopause, we often encounter unique health issues that can affect both our productivity and overall well-being. Ignoring these concerns can lead to absenteeism, reduced efficiency, and, in some cases, negatively impact our mental health.
Employers need to acknowledge that women’s health matters and create an inclusive work environment that supports us through various life stages. Such an approach not only benefits us as employees but also enhances workplace morale, reduces turnover, and ultimately leads to improved productivity and company success.
Supportive Leave Entitlements for Health Reasons
One of the critical aspects of empowering women’s health in the workplace is ensuring adequate leave entitlements for health reasons. This includes not only sick leave for common illnesses but also specific provisions for menstrual health, pregnancy-related issues, and other gender-specific health concerns.
Companies can introduce flexible sick leave policies that allow us to take time off when we’re not feeling well due to women’s health issues without facing judgment or penalties. Moreover, offering paid leave during pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and menopause can significantly contribute to the overall well-being of female employees.
Exercise for Empowerment
Regular exercise plays a crucial role in maintaining our physical and mental health. For us, engaging in physical activities can be especially beneficial during menstruation, as it may help alleviate discomfort and reduce menstrual-related symptoms. As employers, supporting our efforts to stay active can truly empower us. Exercises to support the uniqueness of each women’s roll as well as keep our bodies and brains moving reduces injuries in the workplace as well.
Companies can consider providing flexible work hours to accommodate exercise routines or even designate areas within the workplace for fitness activities. Additionally, offering exercise payments or rebates can encourage us to participate in fitness programs, fitness classes, or sports activities, promoting a culture of wellness within the organisation.
Working from Home for Menstruation, Pregnancy, and Menopause
During menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, we often face unique challenges and discomfort. Having the option to work from home during these times can be a game-changer for us, allowing us to manage our health more effectively while still fulfilling our work responsibilities. I am one of those women who had an embarrassing leak on my office chair and ended up with my chair in the bathroom as I scrubbed the best I could before leaving early to not only change but escape my embarrassment.
Working from home provides the flexibility to create a comfortable and accommodating environment that caters to our individual health needs. It can help reduce the stress of commuting and navigating office dynamics during sensitive times, allowing us to focus on our well-being and maintain productivity.
When you invest in a girl’s education, she feeds herself, her children, her community and her nation
Prime Minster Erna Solberg of Norway
Balancing Family and Work
As women, many of us find ourselves in a constant balancing act, juggling the responsibilities of work and family life. The decision to put our children into care while pursuing our careers can be emotionally taxing. Employers must recognise the mental stress that we can face in these situations and foster a supportive work environment that accommodates family needs.
Providing family leave options and flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible hours, can alleviate the pressure on working mothers. This approach acknowledges the importance of maintaining a work-life balance and empowers us to manage our personal and professional responsibilities effectively.
Cultivating Understanding and Empathy
To truly empower women’s health in the workplace, fostering a culture of understanding and empathy is crucial. Employees should be encouraged to have open conversations about health-related needs, and managers should be trained to approach such discussions with sensitivity and compassion.
Understanding that menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can affect productivity and well-being, employers can implement policies that prioritise women’s health without stigmatisation. By providing access to resources, education, and support groups related to women’s health, companies can create an inclusive environment that values the well-being of all employees.
Women’s Health in the workplace
Women’s Health Week is a powerful reminder of the significance of acknowledging and addressing women’s health concerns in the workplace. By promoting regular exercise, offering the option to work from home during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause, and implementing family-friendly policies, companies can empower their female employees to thrive both physically and mentally. Moreover, fostering understanding, empathy, and flexibility within the workplace can contribute to a positive and inclusive environment.
As we strive to make it work for women’s health, let us champion a future where women can confidently pursue their careers while maintaining their physical and emotional well-being. By prioritising the well-being of female employees, we not only support their professional growth but also cultivate a healthy, motivated, and successful workforce overall. Together, let us embrace women’s health in the workplace and create a work environment that values the health and happiness of all employees.