Health Equity In The Workplace May Sound Scary, But It Can Be As Simple As Six Steps
April 19, 2023
Creating a diverse workplace is one of the top priorities for businesses today, but are employers doing everything they can to ensure that the healthcare benefits they offer truly cater to everyone?
As an HR or employee benefits professional, you play a critical role in shaping the health and wellbeing of your colleagues – whoever they are, wherever they are. It’s a concept known as Health Equity or ‘Health For All’: recognising that the more diverse your workforce is, the more specialised to their needs and the less a one-size-fits-all approach will work.
Health equity means giving everyone a fair chance to be healthy. It’s within your power, and your interest too – because a work environment where everyone feels valued and supported will help you retain diverse talent, foster workplace community, and increase employee engagement.
Employers Can Close the Healthcare Gap
The current state of healthcare is far from perfect. For instance, women often face greater challenges in accessing proper care. They may delay medical visits, receive fewer diagnoses, and spend more on over-the-counter medication. Conditions like endometriosis can take years to diagnose, causing pain and stress in the meantime. On the flip side, men of working age are almost one-third less likely than women to visit the doctor.
Employers are in a unique position to help close the healthcare gap, particularly for under-served areas of gender and family health such as menopause, fertility and specialised men’s health and women’s health.
What Are The Benefits of Health Equity to Business?
By offering healthcare coverage that works for every member of your team, you can reap the benefits of a happier, more productive workforce. Diverse teams make better decisions, and when employees feel cared for, they’re more likely to stick around.
By contrast, employers that fail to meet the needs of a diverse workforce stand to suffer the consequences.
Take menopause as an example: women of menopausal age are the fastest-growing demographic of the workforce, yet companies that offer specialised menopause support are still in the minority.
Here are the facts about menopause in the workplace:
- 1 in 4 women consider leaving their jobs due to menopausal symptoms, 1 in 10 actually do
- 31% of women think about lowering their hours due to their symptoms
- 90% of women say they feel their menopausal symptoms have a negative effect on their work.
The question is, can you afford not to be supporting women experiencing menopause symptoms? More needs to be done to accommodate the unique needs of this group, as well as others in your workplace.
Six Simple Steps to Achieve Health Equity
The concept of ‘Health For All’ might sound complicated, but it doesn’t need to be. Here are six simple steps to supporting every person in your workplace:
- Make your health benefits confidential, accessible and personalised, so everyone has an equal chance to get the help that’s relevant to them.
- Offer benefits that support under-served areas, such as specialised men’s health and women’s health and support for menopause, pregnancy and early parenthood or those on a fertility journey.
- Avoid burnout by encouraging employees to seek healthcare when needed and take time off when necessary. Take a look at our last blog post on ‘how to tackle HR and employee burnout’.
- Invest in training to help employees support each other, like mental health first aid courses and frequent reminders of the health benefits already in place.
- Review your healthcare policies for inclusivity and using gender-neutral language.
- Choose personalised healthcare solutions – generic benefits might seem like a quick fix, but personalised care is the key to truly making a difference.
As an HR or benefits leader, you have the power to make Health Equity a reality in your workplace, but you don’t have to do it alone. Platforms like the Peppy app connect employees with healthcare specialists trained to support the most diverse workplaces. They help you provide high-impact healthcare to every person on your team, and in turn to create a healthier, more resilient workplace culture.