Director of Business Development, Client Value at Medavie Blue Cross
Investing in the health and wellness of women employees not only fosters a culture of caring but can boost productivity, minimize absenteeism and support recruitment and retention.
In today’s workforce, women play a crucial and central role with 81 per cent of women (those aged 25-54) employed in Canada across various industries (StatsCanada, 2022). And while women often experience a range of unique health challenges — from menstruation to mental health to family planning, menopause* and more — they’re often overlooked in the workplace.
“Traditionally, there’s been stigma in discussing the health and wellness needs of women as it relates to work and the potential need for workplace accommodations,” says Tara Anstey, Director of Business Development, Client Value at Medavie Blue Cross. “One of the major gaps is a lack of research and understanding of women’s health, which often leaves many without support — when they need it most.”
Contributing to better health outcomes for women at work
Opportunity exists for employers to further support the wellbeing of women in the workforce, ensuring greater access to care, better health outcomes, as well as business success.
According to Anstey, “Women often have higher levels of absenteeism in the workplace due to health-related issues. By addressing the diverse health and wellness needs of women, businesses can help remove barriers to care and create more inclusive and equitable workplace environments that keep women actively engaged.”
This starts with a commitment to responsiveness and flexibility, tailoring strategies that support women at work. As well, proactively educating employees about the tools and resources available to them, ensuring they are well-informed and empowered to prioritize their health and wellness. Paramedical services accessed through standard benefit plans provide women access to pelvic floor physio, for instance, and a range of mental health practitioners.
Benefit strategies to support women’s health in the workplace
“With a mission to improve the wellbeing of Canadians, our aim is to help people access the type of care that best supports their diverse needs,” says Anstey. “Comprehensive benefit plans offer a range of options that address women’s health, including reproductive health services, parental leave, mental health resources and wellness programs.”
Examples of this include resources for those experiencing symptoms related to perimenopause and menopause, additional options for specialized health coaching services and family building benefits to help with eligible expenses associated with fertility treatments, surrogacy and adoption.
“Benefit plan enhancements to better support the health of women should be looked at as an investment — not only for employees, but for the organization.”
Accessibility is also essential, and employers should offer a variety of options — virtual, in person, via telephone — to employees who all have different preferences for when, where and how they receive care. Providing access to online resources and support groups, as well as workshops and seminars on women’s health topics is also a great way to supplement traditional benefits offered by workplaces.
By recognizing and supporting the unique experiences of women in the workplace, companies can build stronger, longer-lasting relationships with their employees and make a meaningful difference in improving their quality of life.
Learn more at medaviebc.ca.