While certain health and wellness campaigns lend themselves to gender-specific messaging – mammograms or prostate cancer, for example – positioning health and benefits communication to male and female employees differently isn’t commonplace.

But employers may want to reconsider how they communicate about health benefits in light of a new survey which finds marked differences in the perspectives and behaviors of men and women.

Some of the results were pretty intuitive, but the level of differences between men and women was a bit of a surprise, says Joann Hall Swenson, health engagement leader at Aon Hewitt, which released the study with the National Business Group on Health and The Futures Company.

The 2014 Consumer Health Mindsetsurvey, which analyzed responses from more than 2,700 U.S. employees and their dependents covered by employer-sponsored health plans, found that 65% of female employees feel they have control over their health compared to 50% of males. Female employees are also more likely to recognize key activities as important to their health and wellness. For example, 73% of females feel managing their emotional health and their stress levels are important to their overall health, compared to 54% and 57% of males, respectively. In addition, 67% of females believe getting routine medical screenings is an important factor in maintaining their health, compared to only 52% of males.

“In general, women probably feel the weight of health more than men,” says Hall Swenson. “They just see the weight of responsibility, feel more the stress, feel more of the cost impact – maybe because they’re making those decisions more frequently and seeing the dollar impact and just looking for more support. That’s something employers should think about.”

Also see: 12 tips to reduce workplace stress now

Mammogram campaigns, for example, are clearly focused more on women while prostate cancer awareness is targeted at men. “But we don’t see many employers looking at men and women differently, looking at the way they deal with stress, for example,” says Hall Swenson. “It’s something employers should be doing more often but we haven’t seen a lot of it to date.”

Fifty-eight percent of female employees say they experience high stress, compared to 44% of males. In addition, 39% of females are more likely to say their stress has increased over the past 12 months, compared to only 26% of male employees.

“How does this inform the way you might want to communicate about resources that are available?” says Hall Swenson. “One example might be a list of vetted apps and websites. You might actually want to make that gender-specific so you might want to say ‘here are some great men’s health sites and apps.’ It might be a way to nuance your communication and target them more specifically.”

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