From 2014–2017, 83% of employers changed their benefits strategy¹, recognizing that the ever changing workforce is demanding more holistic benefits that help lead to personal and professional success. In the last year alone, health-related benefit investments increased by 20%, from lactation rooms and breast milk shipping to gym reimbursement plans and standing desks. Those investments aren’t just good for employees, they improve the bottom line and improve retention. Twenty-two different studies that looked at employee wellness programs and healthcare costs found the average return on investment was $3.27 for every dollar spent in these efforts.² And 78% of workers would likely remain with their employer because of the benefits it offers, up from 72% in 2016.³
But with all these great benefits, women’s health in the workplace still remains a largely unaddressed challenge, impacting productivity, absenteeism, and presenteeism across sectors. While benefits are increasing, the impact on the bottom line for women’s health remains minimal. And it’s not just for new moms as the benefit trend is going, it’s for working women of all ages for all normal life stages. The statistics are staggering around the number of lost working days, and the ability for women to reach their full potential during the workday:
80% of women report decreased productivity from menstrual pain with a total loss of 8.9 days per year.
10% of women face challenges becoming pregnant. 85% of women undergoing treatment say it impacts their day to day work; more than 50% of women needed more than a week off for each IVF treatment cycle; 19% had to reduce hours or quit their job.
43% of new moms leave their jobs altogether and another 50% change jobs to work for a more family-centric company. Replacing a new mom can cost a company up to 213% of the annual salary of the employee.
On average, new moms who breastfeed spend 1–2 hours pumping per day, even in supportive work environments. If a woman breast pumps for 3 months in the office, that is 15 lost work days.
Up to 32% of women experience chronic pelvic pain. Endometriosis alone has a productivity loss of 31.8 days per year, and generalized chronic pain disorders at 22.2 days per year.
20% of women in the workforce experience menopause each year. More than 50% of women feel their menopause systems negatively affect their work, and 47% need to take time off due to symptoms such as hot flashes and brain fog.
One in three women experience pelvic floor dysfunction in their life. Employees with overactive bladder have 2.2 more lost workdays as a result of medically related absenteeism and 3.4 more days as a result of disability.
It’s time for businesses of all sizes to take a hard look at their benefit offerings to address how their programs are helping women thrive in the workplace, in part by creating a support structure for these unique health and wellness needs. That is, after all, the goal of all employee health and wellness efforts. When we apply a gender lens to benefits, we can all gain through a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.
And when we do take a good, hard look at ways we can improve women’s health, the benefits are clear across industries, from the boardroom to the warehouse. For example, Home Depot took steps to remove obstacles for breastfeeding mothers by implementing it’s own program. As a result, one store experienced an average of $42,000 in annual savings with reduced absences and a higher rate of employee satisfaction.⁴
Women’s Health and Wellness Benefits Today
There are a lot of great women’s health benefits out there, but not all are designed for working women of all ages. Individual verticals, like benefits for infertility or new moms, tend to dominate the women’s health and wellness benefit field, where women approach their employer for access to the company plan. While women’s health benefits like these are absolutely necessary, they also exclude access to the majority of women who also face unique health and wellness needs in the workplace. Instead, women who fall outside narrowly defined criteria are often lumped into the general telehealth and wellness services, when in reality those services aren’t meeting all of the core components of a program women need to truly address their needs in the workplace.
Plans for all employees claim to be inclusive for women, but we know simply having a gynecologist on staff for a benefit plan, or a room for breast pumping is not enough. As a result, women often report lower levels of satisfaction with benefits than men. In 2019, we can and must do better to engage, retain, and motivate our female workforce. Let’s all make a change in 2020 by making a truly transformational year for women by investing in women according to their actual needs. As a result, we will all benefit.
If you’re ready to jump into the future, don’t hesitate to contact Hela Health. We can help your company create a customized benefit strategy that meets your workforce’s needs, as well as your budget.
 Empyrean 2017 Employee Benefit Trends Report, https://www.goempyrean.com/2017-benefit-trends-report/
 Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings, Katherine Baicker, David Cutler, and Zirui Song. Health Affairs 2010 29:2, 304–311
 Willis Towers Watson 2018 Employer/Employee Satisfaction Survey, https://www.willistowerswatson.com/en-US/insights/2018/08/employee-and-employer-satisfaction-with-group-benefit-marketplaces-survey-results
 For a More Productive Workplace, Welcome Breastfeeding Moms Back to Their Jobs, https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/312877