International Men’s Day

Today is International Men’s Day UK, which aims to raise awareness of issues affecting men, especially health and wellbeing, to promote gender equality and celebrate positive male role models.

Mental health, stress and the prevalence of male suicide are big issues for men today, with men in the UK three times more likely than women to take their own lives.

Men are also more likely to attribute poor mental health to stress at work, with 32% citing work as being responsible for their illness compared to 14% of women.

As a recruitment agency, we’re therefore focusing on the pressures that affect men in the workplace and positive action that companies can take to improve this. Bramwith staff have also nominated some of their most inspirational male role models – you can read all the nominations here.

Work stressors

Research by MIND shows that men feel less able to talk about stress at work than women, with a ‘macho culture’ prevailing in many industries. Men also tend to feel less well supported by employers.

One factor that can exacerbate stress is juggling work with caring responsibilities. The Equal Lives report produced by Business in the Community, shows that even in organisations with family-friendly policies, men report concerns for career, progression, finances and a feeling that their caring duties are not as recognised as women’s and less appreciated by organisations. 84% of men with caring responsibilities feel it is important to be able to work flexibly, but only 59% feel they are able to.

Until we reach the point when both men and women feel able to balance work with caring responsibilities, both genders are going to face additional stress. More women feel guilty for working: men feel guilty for the additional pressure they feel they are placing on colleagues if they take time off to care.

One father who took part in the Equal Lives project said; “When the twins were born, there was a lot of support around my wife. I was working very hard, it was full on at home and I was probably depressed when I look back. But nobody would even have asked me if I was all right.” .

Companies that do actively promote flexible working and other schemes for men as well as women can reap the benefits.

Successful examples include Aviva, where two male employees have a shared role as Group Director of Sustainability & Public Policy after deciding they both wanted to spend more time with their children. Will and Sam each work three days a week and believe the ability to interpret flexible working in this way is an important way for organisations to hold on to talent

Deloitte’s Time Out scheme enables employees to take a four-week block of unpaid leave in addition to their holiday entitlement to achieve a better balance between their career and personal commitments. Time Out can be taken every year, at a time which suits both the individual and the business.

Action points

1.Sign up for MIND’s Workplace Wellbeing Index to get a full assessment of how well your company is doing on mental health at work and receive recommendations on what needs improving. Companies also receive public recognition for best practice.

2. Some recommendations from the Equal Lives report include:

* Introduce family-friendly policies that are aimed at men, women, and those caring for dependent adults as well as children.
* Review, amend and relaunch policies to encourage changes in culture regarding all varieties of flexible working. Allow teams and individuals to tailor flexibility and mobility to suit their own needs.
* Showcase positive male and female role models and communicate stories of how and when these policies have helped to balance work and care across your organisations.
* Encourage leaders to be open and honest about their own experiences. Examples of senior role models can illustrate that it’s not a hindrance on progression.

3. Read up on the pressures men face to ‘man up’ and not talk about their problems — and the resources they can access to help change this mindset.

Image by Bethany Legg, Unsplash

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