7 Brazenly Honest Reasons for the Need for Gender-Specific Wellness Programs for Working Women

What’s the need for gender-specific wellness programs? Many years back, when I used to leave my son at the school bus stop, I saw a little boy always throwing tantrums, fighting with other kids, and being rude to everyone. Hence all the other parents who were there were puzzled about his actions.

Later I came to know that the kid’s mom had joined a new company and had to work long hours, so the little one was missing his mom and throwing up all sorts of tantrums. 

Of course, not all mothers would have the luxury of hiring a babysitter. Furthur, work and home-related problems would affect their mental health. Moreover, the physical makeup of women is different from that of men. In this case, it becomes the duty of the workplace to look after the wellness of women.

 Women are a robust workforce. They can impact an organization by boosting productivity, expanding network, offering constructive criticism, attracting younger workers, offering diversity and multidimensional interest in the workplace, and building a solid team spirit. 

Women’s passion, helpful nature, and emotional intelligence help create a well-rounded workforce and healthy workplace relationships.

What’s the need for a gender-specific wellness program for women

The Cigna 360 Wellbeing survey published in 2019 states increased stress among working women than men. 

  • Seventy-nine percent of women feel highly stressed in their jobs due to work-life balance issues.
  • Ten percent feel that their stress is highly unmanageable. 
  • Seventy-eight percent of women are not getting enough sleep compared to 65 percent of men. 

The top triggers for working women include high work pressure, health issues, and financial concerns in the UK.

How do women employees benefit the organization?

Organizations that don’t realize the importance of women in the workplace are missing out. 

Earlier research studies have shown that Fortune 500 companies with more women on board outperform companies that have low representation of women on their board.

A Gallup study found that gender-diverse business units have higher average revenue than less diverse business units. An extensive survey found that having a higher number of women in the workplace predicted 

  • More organizational discipline
  • Increased job satisfaction
  •  Meaningful work and 
  • Less burn out

Likewise, having more women in the workplace was positively related to employee engagement and retention. 

Why the need for gender-specific corporate wellness programs 

#1. Flexibility

Flexibility is a critical criterion when your organization wants to retain talented women that raise families. In the above survey, women mentioned workplace flexibility as their highest priority, and paid time off was the most crucial perk. Similarly, flexible schedules, paid leadership development, healthcare benefits, and opportunities to move up in the organization were cited as necessary benefits.

Building flexibility reduces stress levels among women and helps them be highly productive. Flexible working hours, work-from-home, and shorter working weeks options should form a part of a gender-specific corporate wellness program.  

#2. Women want a calling, not just 9 to 5 jobs.

In the survey, women stated that staying in a job includes the following.

  •  Job suits well with other areas of their life 
  • Enjoy their work
  •  Their work allows them to make a difference. 
  •  Prioritized work aligned with their purpose, values, and work-life balance

Social scientists call these attributes a “calling.” Research shows experiencing work as a calling increases job satisfaction. 

Corporate social responsibilities give a healthy feeling that we’re giving something back to society and increase job satisfaction. So they should be a part of the corporate wellness program.

  • Including pro bono work
  • Employee community service days
  • Financial donations 
  • Product donations
  •  Eco-friendly practices in corporate wellness programs will help develop a highly productive and loyal workforce.
  • Women want real leadership opportunities.

The survey found that women were as likely to accept leadership opportunities as men, but they expressed different reasons for turning down leadership opportunities than men. Women mentioned that they were not confident of their qualifications for leadership roles, had concerns about whether they would be supported, and were worried about being set up for failure. 

Research suggests that organizations expect women to be more qualified than men for the same job positions. Moreover, women are likely to get glass cliff positions –––more precarious leadership opportunities, high stakes, and have an increased risk of failure. To attract and retain highly talented women, organizations should banish gender disparity and offer gender parity in pay, opportunities for success, and experiences. 

#3.  Acknowledge and respect the family commitments of women

Women with families should not be seen as less eligible for promotions. If having a family is a welcome aspect for male employees, the same holds for female workers. A company culture built on empathy will help create a successful force where the leadership and the employees care for each other.

For example, a manager may give an assignment at 4 pm and ask for it in the morning. Some managers may be unsympathetic to the needs of employees or just turn a blind eye. So it’s best to build a corporate program that builds empathy among the leadership and co-workers. The organizations can provide family support services for female workers and create a dedicated workforce.

#4. Redesign the office

According to the US Department of labor, women make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce, and 85 percent of working women will become mothers during their carers. Therefore, corporate wellness programs for women should include measures like giving women more privacy, such as providing ample light and lactation rooms for nursing mothers, arranging resting places, and napping pods for pregnant women considering their requirement of additional rest hours. Also, giving them frequent breaks during the working schedule and providing time allowance for antenatal care. 

#5. Provide support for reproductive and gynecological problems

Reproductive morbidities affect women’s psychological, economic and social factors. Most working women are likely to suffer from gynecological problems, and not many of them are willing to disclose it. So organizing educational programs emphasizing the need for regular checkups of women and educating them on the prevention and management of these gynecological programs must be a part of gender-specific corporate wellness programs. Including women’s issues in corporate wellness programs helps maintain a healthy female workforce. 

#6. Specialized wellness programs for women

While onsite gyms are good, specially trained coaches and sponsored, women’s support groups are better options to take care of the unique needs of women. These groups could be working mothers groups, weight loss groups, walking together groups, etc. Women can share valuable tips in these groups, which help them grow collectively. 

Specialized women’s programs go beyond the traditional wellness program since they are crafted by professionals specializing in women’s wellness. For example, online meditation programs or yoga sessions spanning 10 minutes to one-hour help women destress, get refreshed, focus better, and significantly increase their performance.

Organizing health seminars by roping in experts from different fields, including nutrition, fitness, diet, pregnancy, maternity, and gynecological problems and ways to manage or prevent them, must also be included in gender-specific wellness programs. 

Happy employees are a great asset to your organization. Allowing women to eliminate nonproductive tasks and enjoy personal time, providing free food, or offering free taxi service enhances employee engagement and productivity.

#7, Employee assistance programs

Employee assistance programs offer short-term counseling, confidential assessments, referrals, and follow-up services to work-related or personal problems employees. Though EAP programs are open to men and women, special attention to women’s mental health increases their self-confidence. 

Guiding to manage stress, recommending ways to balance work and family life, and teaching women to deal with various issues that arise at home and office reduces employee absenteeism and increases job satisfaction. 

Take away

Investing in women’s wellness would be a smart move to boost your financial margins and create a dedicated workforce that would positively impact your company in the long-range.