Women’s health programs became a hot topic in recent years as more and more women entered the workforce. In the United States, 74 million women make up almost 47% of the workforce. Women also own almost 10 million businesses.1
More women in the workforce also means a change in lifestyle. Women postpone when they have families, making conception more challenging and stressful. And if not done well, fertility services can come with risk factors such as multiple births, low birth weight and risk to the mother. Because of this, it’s essential to have the right services available with the best possible outcomes.
Some of the other needs for working moms include pumping at work and handling breast milk. A lot of traveling moms need support to ship breast milk back home. And while there are a lot of programs that support these needs, there’s more we can be doing.
Support for women’s health needs
An Optum® study, “Ten Years of Health and Well-being at Work,” surveyed 500 U.S.-based employers on various topics related to workplace well-being. One of the topics was women’s health.
The study found that 82% of employers think it’s important to offer programs specific to women’s health needs. Employers also plan to increase their investment in women’s well-being over the next three years.2
The prevalence of women’s programs that address their health care needs from pre-conception to midlife solutions continues to expand. The follow programs are being offered by employers3:
- Maternity: 74% in 2018 compared to 59% in 2016
- Neonatal: 68% in 2018 compared to 41% in 2016
- First year of life: 67% in 2018 compared to 40% in 2016
- Fertility solutions: 65% in 2018 compared to 30% in 2016
- Midlife solutions: 64% in 2019 compared to NA in 2016
- Preconception: 62% in 2018 compared to 37% in 2016
The study also found that behavioral health is more of a concern for women than men. It’s not a matter of women having higher rates of behavioral health issues, but rather that they’re seeking support more often.
Culturally, women are often more comfortable expressing their feelings than men. They also take the emotional burden of families and others on themselves, which can drive some issues. Men often tend to internalize their emotions and don’t seek help.
Whether women need programs to help with conception or behavioral health concerns, the focus on these services is long overdue. As the workplace demographic continues to shift, more and more programs will continue to come to light.
Download the “Ten Years of Health and Well-being at Work” e-book to learn more about the main topics impacting employers and employees, including behavioral health, women’s health and complex, costly conditions.
About the author
Seth Serxner, PhD, MPH
Chief Health Officer, Optum
Seth Serxner, a national expert on behavior change, program design and measurement, brings the breadth of his experience in academia, industry and consulting to his role as chief health officer at Optum.
His versatile skill set ensures processes and outcomes that improve health for clients in all markets. His deep knowledge of behavior change, population health and measurement allows him to visualize and deliver on program innovation.
He is a published author with over 25 years of experience in health and productivity management. He holds a master’s in public health and a doctorate from the University of California, where his research focused on health promotion and disease prevention in social ecology.