Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Worksite Wellness: Guys All Aboard

Let’s face it. We all think it. Men are just not interested in their health. It’s not “manly”.  Really? This stereotypical view of men is they are not interested in improving their health is on its way out. More and more men are interested in what they can do to develop a healthy lifestyle.   However there is a great divide between wanting to do something and actually putting it into practice.  Wanting a healthier life will not make it happen.  This is true at home and at work. 

So what’s the hold up? Men have a different sense about the world than women for this reason it's important to note the barriers to engaging in healthy practices are different for men than women when developing wellness programing especially if there are more men than women where you work. 

One of the most commonly asked questions people ask when they start a wellness program at a worksite that is predominately men is usually 'how do you get men to come along?'

To start it's important to identify what those barriers are at your workplace when deciding on wellness programing.  In the article Big Lottery Fund: Engaging Men in Your Project: A Good Practice Guide the author states the most common barriers noted are men are less inclined to seek out help, have a fear of disapproval such as being seen as not "manly" and in some situations feel "unwelcomed".

For worksites that are predominately men then programing needs to overcome these barriers to increase work-site wellness engagement and participation.  When considering programing consider interacting with men through peer networks and influencing partnerships in connection to activities men enjoy such as sporting events, festivals, family fun days, and community events. It is also important to include influential partners and family members to influence men's health wellness decisions and to get medical problems checked out. Include family members in the educational programing, health screening information, and nurse answer hotlines to support them. Here are some other ideas... 

  1. Team challenges are becoming more popular in the work place. It is a call to engage in a contest or competition with a health wellness focus. Teams compete against each other for prizes or rewards.
  2. Sport is increasingly being recognized as an effective way to engage men and boys in practices that can enhance their health and wellbeing. Partner with local sports team, youth team or create sports teams.
  3. Social connections such as Facebook and Twitter are great ways to increase engagement by raising awareness for employees and their families. 
  4. Movember is a men's health movement connected to an event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers, and associated charities. You can join this movement or make your own. 
  5. Celebrate Men’s Health Week the seconded week in June to engage men in healthy activities, develop an appropriate understanding of what factors are affecting their health, services that  encourage the use of the local resources.   
In an article How to Get Men to Participate in Worksite Wellness Programs written by Lisa Stoval the recommendation is to "... piggyback your wellness efforts on this popular health campaign and bring attention to men's health issues at your worksite. Like most wellness efforts, you have a better chance of reaching men if you develop a program that is specifically targeted to them." 

Engaging men in healthy behaviors at work has many benefits; most importantly it just makes sense. 

Your partner in health,

Cindy Cohen RN, BS BA
Wellness Consultant

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