This year’s International Men’s Day is the perfect opportunity to start the conversation about men’s health in the workplace.
Research shows that men in the UK have a shorter life expectancy than women, with one in five dying before retirement age.
But while there is now a wider awareness of specific cancers affecting men, along with a better appreciation of men’s mental health challenges, the greater threat to men’s health comes from strokes, heart disease and cancers associated with unhealthy lifestyles. In 2021, one in eight men died from coronary heart disease in the UK*.
Dr Alex Smallwood, Director of Clinical Transformation at Maximus, shares his advice on how employers can improve men’s workplace health:
“Men typically don’t have any health screening until the age of 45, and are less likely to engage with health services. It’s important not to ignore symptoms as early detection of prostate problems and other conditions can mean that they are easily treatable.
But the key to improving men’s health overall is to encourage healthy lifestyles earlier in life – and employers can promote this through developing an effective men’s health strategy.
This can include:
- Establishing a supportive culture towards men’s health – encourage male employees to attend medical appointments by offering flexibility for these to take place within work hours.
- Being vigilant towards behavioural changes, for instance breathlessness after using the stairs, or more frequent bathroom breaks. Seek advice from HR or Occupational Health if necessary.
- Motivating male employees to engage with their health through the adoption of small, achievable lifestyle changes.
- Offering flexibility regarding hours or working patterns, including hybrid and flexible working.
- Signposting trusted sources of information on male health and highlighting available support, for instance through Employee Assistance Programmes.”
*Source: British Heart Foundation, 2021