The menopause is a natural phase in every woman’s life, but there’s still many misconceptions and stigmas attached to it.
It’s time to move past these, develop a strong understanding of the menopause, the symptoms and support your colleagues through this potentially challenging and stressful time.
Today we’ll be going over the common symptoms of the menopause, how it can impact women in the workplace and ways you can support them.
Let’s break this workplace taboo and provide better support for working women together.
What are Some Common Symptoms of The Menopause?
Everyone will experience menopause differently, for example, some may be affected more physically rather than mentally and visa versa. Menopause usually takes place between ages 45 and 55, but it can also happen later or earlier.
Employees need to be aware of who menopause impacts, the symptoms and how they can impact their work or personal life. The menopause can affect women, trans or intersex people, relatives or colleagues and carers who are supporting someone going through it.
Some of the common symptoms of menopause include:
- Hot flushes
- Difficulty sleeping
- Problems with concentration or memory fog
- Low mood
It’s also important to note that those symptoms of menopause can last for 4 years, or in some cases even longer which varies from person to person.
How can The Menopause Impact Women at Work?
According to a recent CIPD survey out of 1,409 working women, three out of five between the ages of 45 and 55 (59%) experienced or are experiencing menopausal symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work.
And women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing group in the workforce, so we need to ensure that the menopause is recognised as a health and wellbeing concern for employees that needs to be handled with care and sensitivity.
Menopause can impact women at work through:
- Hot flushes
- Lowered confidence
- Poor concentration
- Difficulty sleeping
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
Many of these symptoms can often go unnoticed, but this can lead to greater issues – such as feeling the need to leave the workforce, burnout, stress or exhaustion.
Why it’s Important to Support Women Through The Menopause in the Workplace
Although menopause can impact women in various different ways, giving the right support and having those open conversations with those going through it can prevent them from:
- Leaving their job
- Having increased mental health issues – such as anxiety, stress or depression
- Losing confidence in their skills or abilities
- Feeling like they should hide the reasons for the need to take time off work
Here’s how to get started.
4 Ways to Support Women Going Through The Menopause in the Workplace
1. Create a supportive environment
The first step to supporting women in the workplace through their menopause is to break the silence. Women say they feel more supported by their colleagues (48%) than their managers (32%) when going through the menopause. It’s important for colleagues to be able to support menopausal staff, but the menopause should not be treated as an off-limits topic of conversation by senior staff.
Guide your employees towards available support from internal or external support groups and who to contact in the organisation for any concerns. If you’re in management, you should work closely with your HR team to ensure employees have all the resources and guidance they need – including reliable health sources and potentially complementary therapies said to help the menopause.
Want to learn how you can further support women in your team or organisation? Read these 4 simple ways to continue learning.
2. Consider workplace adjustments
Depending on your job role, there can be aspects of work which can make menopause symptoms harder to deal with. These can include poor ventilation, no access to a quiet space, high workloads, changing deadlines, long hours or dealing with customers, clients or patients for long periods of time.
You might think there’s not much you can do to help, but there is. It’s all about simple and practical adjustments to show women you do understand and that you’re aware of the stress the symptoms are putting them under. Start by having an open and transparent conversation with the individual and aim to understand their needs and how to help reduce the impact menopause is having on their work or wellbeing.
Here’s some examples of adjustments you could make:
- Installing fans to keep cool
- Offering regular rest breaks
- Allowing adaptions to uniform to improve comfort
- Suggesting a later start time if sleep is disturbed
3. Introduce a policy or guidance documents
Menopausal employees need to see that their employer recognises their symptoms and the hardships they can put you under. Gather helpful information and support and create a guidance document that can be shared throughout the organisation. Aim to show your commitment to:
- Adjustments to working conditions
- Encourage employees to seek advice or guidance
- Training or raising awareness in every department
- Tackling the stigma around menopause by having transparent conversations
- Offering support and reliable resources for those experiencing menopausal symptoms
4. Offer flexible working
Managing menopausal symptoms while working can be stressful and cause symptoms to feel worse. Offering flexible working for those going through menopause will allow them to manage their symptoms effectively around their work and avoid any unnecessary stress. This also means allowing greater flexibility with breaks during the working day or if an employee has a number of doctors appointments to attend because of the menopause.
What Are the government doing to Support Women Experiencing Reproductive Issues?
Just very recently (May 2022), a grant fund has been launched to help support women's reproductive wellbeing in the workplace - including the menopause or pregnancy loss. The funding is now open to applications for the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector who specialise in wellbeing services for women.
The grant reaffirms the government's commitment to level up women's health to ensure they are better support to remain in or return to the workplace, and employers are well equipped to support women. Minister for Women's Health, Maria Caulfield said, "Women's health shouldn't impact their employment opportunities. We're levelling up women's heath through this fund alongside our pledge to support women experiencing the menopause in the civil service."
Learn more about the grant fund here and what it aims to achieve.
Gain the Knowledge and Training You Need to Support Women Through The Menopause
To begin breaking this taboo in your workplace, start by educating and training line managers to ensure they’re knowledgeable and confident to have open, sensitive and supportive conversations with employees about their symptoms. Signup to our Supporting Staff Through the Menopause training course to get started.