Monday, February 26, 2024

Elevating Women's Wellbeing at Work

Insights from the US Surgeon General's Report
Written by: Joyce Gregory, MD

Promoting the mental health and wellbeing of women in the workplace remains paramount in today’s dynamic post COVID pandemic work landscape. Work plays a pivotal role in shaping the health, wealth, and overall wellbeing of women. Ideally, work provides women with the means to support themselves and their families while also offering a sense of purpose, opportunities for growth, and a supportive community. When women thrive in the workplace, they are more likely to experience both physical and mental wellness, contributing positively to their work environments.

Despite facing challenges like economic disparities, educational debts, and housing instability, organizations have the power to support women's mental health and wellbeing. Leaders and employees can rethink the role of work in women's lives and explore strategies to better support their needs. By prioritizing women's health and happiness at work, organizations can create environments where women can thrive both personally and professionally.

The US Surgeon General's 2022 report on Workplace Mental Health and Well-being offers a comprehensive framework that outlines five essential components designed to meet the unique needs of women in the workforce. Let's explore how these essentials can cultivate workplaces that prioritize women's well-being and professional growth.

Ensuring Protection from Harm
Prioritizing workplace safety is critical, particularly for women who may face heightened risks due to various factors such as discrimination and violence. Organizations must diligently adhere to regulations, improve policies, and collaborate with female employees to ensure a safe work environment.

Adequate rest is essential for the physical and mental well-being of women in the workplace while insufficient rest can lead to increased risks of injuries and burnout. Workplace leaders should consider factors like working hours and provide opportunities for rest to support the well-being and productivity of female employees.

Supporting mental health is crucial, especially for women, to combat stigma and foster inclusive cultures. Organizations can achieve this by providing training, enhancing Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), and ensuring comprehensive healthcare coverage.

Fostering Connection & Community
Fostering a sense of belonging in the workplace is paramount, particularly for women. Encouraging social interaction and breaking down barriers can cultivate positive relationships and shield against bias. Leaders must strive to create inclusive environments where every woman feels empowered to voice her thoughts.

Building trust among female colleagues is key. Leaders should facilitate opportunities for team members to bond, fostering empathy and support, particularly during challenging times. Strong workplace relationships not only enhance performance but also drive innovation, highlighting the importance of transparent communication.

In today's remote or hybrid work setups, promoting collaboration is essential. Leaders should advocate for teamwork, facilitate regular communication, and provide effective collaboration tools. Addressing broader social issues can further strengthen bonds among women, fostering a supportive environment.

Striking Work-Life Harmony
Achieving work-life balance is a common challenge, yet crucial for women's well-being. Granting women autonomy over their work methods and providing flexibility in tasks, schedules, and locations can mitigate conflicts and build trust. Implementing family-friendly policies and respecting boundaries between work and personal time are also essential.


Embracing Mattering at Work
Recognizing the contributions of women in the workplace is vital for fostering a sense of belonging and purpose. This involves providing fair compensation, engaging women in decision-making processes, fostering gratitude and recognition, and aligning individual work with the organizational mission. Empowering women enhances morale and organizational commitment.

Nurturing Opportunity for Growth
Providing women with opportunities for growth and learning is paramount. Companies should offer quality training, education, mentoring programs, and clear pathways for career advancement. Ensuring equitable distribution of opportunities and offering relevant feedback are essential for women's career development and fulfillment.

In the post-pandemic era, workplaces have a unique chance to prioritize women's mental health and well-being, fostering resilience and success. The Surgeon General’s 2022 Framework for Workplace Mental Health & Well-Being serves as a roadmap for creating supportive environments. Sustainable change requires dedicated leadership that amplifies the voices of women. I encourage you to explore the full report to gain deeper insights into fostering women's wellbeing in the workplace and creating inclusive environments for all.


 


DR. JOYCE GREGORY holds over two decades of professional experience as a clinical psychiatrist specializing in addictions and mental health treatment programs.  She is dedicated to advancing performance-based solutions in both the healthcare and education sectors to enhance patient outcomes and academic achievements. She is deeply passionate about utilizing her clinical expertise and data-driven approach not only in healthcare but also in education to bridge the gap between medical science and industry. Dr. Gregory is also a recognized clinical speaker and a published educator.  Her latest educational contribution to mental health and wellness is in an upcoming series by BALANCE & LONGEVITY (WHC-TV) / Women's Health Collaborative) set to launch in the summer of 2024. 

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