Why women are taking strain at work
A new study has revealed that female employees are 54% more likely to suffer from anxiety and twice as likely as men to work through illness – an issue known as presenteeism.
The study revealed that, during the last year, female employees experienced more work-related health implications than men. In addition to their raised anxiety levels, they are also 17% more at risk from excessive stress due to work life. In addition, 35% said that their mental health had worsened in the last year because of the workplace.
With International Women’s Day (IWD) being observed on 8 March, these statistics put a spotlight on the disproportionate health implications that women face due to their workplace. This year’s IWD theme is #EmbraceEquity, to encourage employers to support women’s health and well-being in the workplace.
According to the survey, 27% of female employees have experienced insomnia, making them 42% more susceptible to sleep deprivation. This is important to note, considering that the first signs of burnout, anxiety or depression are insomnia and trouble sleeping, according to the NHS.
A study of over 1,000 employees also found that sore backs, shoulders, or necks are experienced at a rate 58% higher in women than men. In addition, other physical health concerns were 60% more likely in women.
These results suggest that employers aren’t doing enough to support women in the workplace. In further support of this indication, a recent study across the UK-wide study into employee health and well-being found that 85% of employees would like their company to be more proactive in boosting employee health, well-being, and healthy habits. The study also found that:
- Training managers to provide better support will help (33%).
- promoting the use of sick leave when people are struggling with physical or mental health is important (32%).
- employees want access to stress management training (25%).
It is not a benefit for employees to feel supported; companies benefit too:
- 38% of employees feel more productive at work.
- 33% of employees feel engaged with the work they do.
- 31% say they’re less likely to seek job opportunities elsewhere.
Kate Palmer, HR Advisor and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, says: “Equality should be at the forefront of employers’ priorities and, as recognised by International Women’s Day, the only way to achieve this is through equity. Widespread prejudices against women and damaging biases such as: they’re unable to juggle a career and family, or be as resilient as men in the workplace, can often lead to women having to work longer and harder than their male counterparts just to access the same opportunities, even if it means working when they are unwell.
“ All employers should consider offering an employee assistance programme and trained mental health first aiders to help identify individuals struggling with their mental health at an early stage, and signpost them to professional resources. Knowing women may be more at risk should be a prompt for employers to proactively implement these measures.”
Ruth Tongue, director of employee wellbeing company Elevate, says: “Equity is not something to only be addressed once a year – companies must think strategically about how to support women in their workplace.
“Employers should offer emotional and mental wellbeing support for everyone via counselling, supyesport sessions with experts on stress management and championing women in the workplace by offering recognition not only financially but also visibly through promotions and praise.”