pink menopause image showing what organs can be affectedA Guide to Support and Understanding

Menopause is a natural phase of life that every woman will eventually go through, marking the end of reproductive years. This transformative journey, however, can bring about physical, emotional, and mental changes that often go unnoticed in the workplace. To foster a more inclusive and supportive environment, businesses should educate themselves on menopause and empower their male colleagues to understand and offer support. In this blog, we’ll explore why businesses need to address menopause and provide practical insights for men to offer genuine support and understanding to their female co-workers during this transition.

Why Businesses Should Care

Menopause affects half of the world’s population at some point in their lives. As women spend a significant portion of their lives in the workforce, businesses need to recognise the impact of menopause on their employees. Menopause-related symptoms, such as hot flashes, fatigue, mood swings, and cognitive changes, can affect productivity, work quality, and overall well-being. By acknowledging and addressing these challenges, companies can create a more compassionate, supportive, and effective work environment.

Menopause Education for Employees

  • Raise Awareness: Begin by conducting educational workshops or seminars about menopause. Offer information about its symptoms, challenges, and ways to manage them effectively. A well-informed workforce is more likely to offer empathetic support.
  • Open Dialogue: Create a safe space where employees can openly discuss their experiences without fear of judgment. Encourage open conversations about menopause, allowing women to share their stories and challenges, which can help reduce stigma and misinformation.
  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Offer flexible work arrangements to accommodate fluctuating energy levels and physical discomfort. This could include options for remote work, flexible hours, or reduced workload during particularly challenging days.

What Men Need to Know

  • Educate Yourself: Take the initiative to learn about menopause, its physical and emotional implications, and how it can affect your female colleagues. Online resources, books, and seminars can help you gain a deeper understanding.
  • Listen Actively: When a female co-worker talks about her experiences, listen without judgment and offer your support. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a compassionate ear.
  • Practice Empathy: Understand that menopause is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Every woman’s journey is unique, and symptoms can vary widely. Approach conversations with empathy and without assumptions.
  • Be Flexible and Supportive: If possible, be accommodating when a co-worker is struggling with symptoms. Offering a helping hand, covering tasks, or providing additional support can make a significant difference.
  • Respect Privacy: Some women might prefer to keep their menopause journey private. Respect their choice and avoid discussing it unless they initiate the conversation.
    Creating a Supportive Workplace.
  • Implement Menopause-Friendly Policies: Introduce policies that address menopause-related challenges, such as flexible work hours, designated rest spaces, and wellness programs that focus on nutrition and stress management.
  • Training for Managers: Train managers to recognize the signs of menopause-related struggles and offer appropriate support. This includes creating an environment where women feel comfortable discussing their needs.
  • Normalize Breaks: Encourage regular breaks to help manage symptoms like fatigue and cognitive changes. This not only benefits women but can also enhance overall productivity and mental well-being for everyone.

By acknowledging and addressing menopause in the workplace, businesses can take a significant step toward fostering inclusivity and supporting their female employees during this life transition. Through education, empathy, and policy changes, both men and women can work together to create a workplace that values and understands the unique challenges that menopause brings. Remember, a supportive work environment benefits everyone and paves the way for a more compassionate and productive workspace.

Why I Care

I wish I had experienced an employer who comprehended menopause when I navigated it myself. During the period when I grappled with burnout, which was also the case, menopause simultaneously intensified my symptoms. The inquiries from my male colleagues such as “Are you embarrassed?” when I underwent a hot flush contributed to the distress I felt about this then-taboo topic. Although it’s no longer a taboo, there’s still much more progress to be made.

Initiating menopause education should commence earlier in all aspects of life. My social media manager had never received any information about menopause until we initiated this series of blogs. Is it necessary for her to know about it at 25? Certainly, she does. It’s crucial for her to grasp the experiences of others and to be ready for her own life changes.

Over the course of six blogs, we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? We can have a much better transition if we have a better understanding of menopause. We can learn to work with our bodies and find our personal path.

In this blog we will be looking at menopause in the workplace and why it is such an important issue. What needs to change about the attitude towards menopause and symptoms in the workplace?

How menopause affects women in the workplace

Did you know that 13 million women in the UK are going through menopause at any one time? 80% of them are at work? While we all know that menopause physically affects only women, when it comes to the workplace it can affect everybody. In any job where there are female employees present, it should be taken into consideration that the possibility of them having symptoms, while at work, is very high. There are a possible 49 symptoms of menopause, and any number of them can affect productivity and performance at work.

If you think about your current job, and whether you are going through the menopause, would you say you are comfortable in your workspace to cope with it? According to a survey by Forth with Life around 90% of women say that their workplace does not offer any help to menopausal women. 72% say that changes need to be made to accommodate menopausal women in the workplace.

How symptoms affect women in the workplace

If you have experienced menopausal symptoms, then it will be no secret that they can disrupt your daily work life. 41% of those same surveyed women said that their poor concentration and forgetfulness causes them to make mistakes and underperform. Menopause can also cause difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety during work and employers can easily dismiss that too as underperforming. If your employer has experienced the menopause themselves they may be a little more uncerstanding. However, those who have not been taught how to deal with it can easily misunderstand how serious these symptoms are.

Managing your menopause is a great first step to coping. Finding natural solutions such as ones we have discussed in our Natural VS HRT blogs may really help you. Maybe you have a co-worker going through a similar experience? Could you ask anyone around you for support?

How does this affect you as an employer?

As of 2019 studies show that there is a huge rise in employment in women between the ages of 50 and 64. This is prime time for menopause to be an issue, and although some are choosing to stay in work, many feel as though they cannot cope with the symptoms and stress. This results in possibly leaving work or a rise in absence. One in four women have considered leaving work because of menopause, and according to BUPA around 990,000 already have. If a woman quits work due to unmanageable symptoms it will cost the company money. Replacing an employee can cost anywhere between 90% – 200% of what it originally cost to pay that employee. For exmaple, if they earned say £25,000, that could cost anywhere up to £50,000. This is before taking into consideration other elements such as:

  • Expertise, skills and experience lost
  • Recruiting, interviewing and training a new employee
  • The client relationships they built
  • Cultural impact
  • Loss of productivity

What can you do as an employer to help?

When it comes to the wellbeing of women in the workplace, topics such as menopause should be taken seriously. Simply talking about menopause, raising awareness to all employees and normalising it is extremely helpful. Especially when employees might feel embarrassed to address it or made to feel like it is a taboo subject. In addition, here are some things employees can introduce to better the help and understanding of menopause in the workplace:

  • Training for all line managers
  • Support groups
  • A safe place to talk in the office
  • A quiet rest area
  • Flexible work hours and shift arrangements
  • Facilities for physical symptoms such as showers, fans and clean bathrooms
  • Introduce a menopause policy

The government are currently investigating a manifesto for menopause at work. This was put forward by the CIPD in order to bring more attention to the lack of awareness and support surrounding menopause in the workplace. Bringing a menopause policy into organisations would ensure the wellbeing of employees, and help shed the negative talk surrounding it.

If you would like to stay ahead of the curve and think about your wellbeing strategy to incorporate a menopause policy now, contact Alison Charles, Wellbeing Consultant:

Tel: 07768 493157

Office: 020 3290 3157

Twitter: @alisonjcharles
LinkedIn: Alison Charles
Facebook: Alison Charles: Wellbeing in the Workplace