The 15th of June marks the start of Men’s Health Week 2020 and with one in five men in the UK not living long enough to enjoy their retirement, the awareness week aims to prompt men to think more about their wellbeing, act where needed and vastly improve this statistic. 


Topping the list of health concerns related to the workplace is stress. Often called the silent killer, this is one of the leading causes of work absenteeism and it can have a major impact on physical and mental health – contributing to insomnia, depression and high blood pressure, as well as an increased risk of heart attack and diabetes. 


Tragically, it can even lead to suicide. Three out of four suicide victims in the UK are men. 


Meanwhile, according to research published by the Health and Safety Executive, the overall economic cost to the UK of poor mental health in the workplace is more than £5 billion. The highest instances are in the public services sectors, such as health and social care, emergency services, education, prisons and local and central government. 


It’s no surprise that workplace burn-out has just been added to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases, meaning it will become a globally recognised medical condition as of 2020. It defines burn-out as “chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed”. 


A contributing factor to this is the traditional male culture of not being comfortable talking about personal feelings. For example, according to the 2017-18 community life survey, men (27%) are more likely than women (20%) to say they never feel lonely. 


Thankfully, personnel such as the HR manager can help stop men from bottling up emotions by creating a workplace where openness and communication are actively encouraged. An ‘open door’ culture enables employees to come to HR or their line managers and feel comfortable about discussing issues. If it’s not possible to tackle these problems directly, HR can offer guidance on who to talk to and where help is available. 


It can also ensure the information on male health issues is actively promoted via rolling screensavers, workshops and poster campaigns. 


And these messages need not be complex. For example, did you know a waist size of 37 inches or above puts men at increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer? 

To combat wayward waistlines, men should aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. 


Of course, desk-based or sedentary jobs are not ideal environments to boost physical health. But while not every office, factory or workplace can offer on-site gym facilities, even the busiest call centre worker, customer service agent, assembly worker or accountant can benefit from enjoying a little exercise during their working day. 

This could be as simple as getting up and stretching, walking for ten minutes or, even better, getting outdoors for a stroll during a break. 


Forward-thinking company managers can also arrange discounted gym memberships to encourage employees to take up activity programmes before or after work. 

They might even hire the talents of a personal trainer to create bespoke activity programmes. 


We should remember, however, not to push for perfection in fitness. A UK-wide campaign by men’s health and wellbeing platform, Manual, was launched as part of Mental Health Awareness Week last month – this saw men campaigning for better representation of the male body image in the media to raise awareness of the impact unrealistic stereotypes can have on mental health. 


Just as important for overall health are men’s eating habits. We all know we should try to eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day. This is why workplaces with canteens or cafes should promote healthy menu options and provide comfortable break-out areas where staff can enjoy a proper environment for eating rather than snacking at their desks. 


Some of the UK’s larger companies even employ consultant nutritionists to offer advice and create bespoke diet regimes for men struggling with their weight or who are prone to unhealthy eating habits. 


Another figure being promoted during Men’s Health Week is the fact men in unskilled work are three times more likely to take their own lives than men in senior management. 


This puts the onus on companies to make health support as accessible as possible to every employee but with special attention to male workers who spend their time out of the company HQ and removed from the direct support of managers and HR. 


Thankfully, there are proactive organisations across the UK who are already delivering voluntary health screenings and personal counselling that don’t involve the hassle of taking time off from work to go to appointments. 


Meantime, there are many rewarding roles in sectors such as HR, health and social care that can help Men’s Health Week achieve its aims and reach out to male employees in the workplace. 


If you’d like to find out more, simply search the latest vacancies online now.