You may be wondering why menopause is, and should be, a relevant workplace consideration. For many, it still feels a taboo topic, and yet 75% of working women aged 50-64 years old are affected by menopause. Of those, 1 in 5 have said they’ve needed to take time off work due to menopause symptoms. A further 1 in 50 are, or have been, on long-term sick leave.
What is menopause and how can it impact women in the workplace
While most people have a rough idea of what menopause is (when women stop having periods due to hormonal changes, typically around 50 years old). While typically menopause is associated with middle age, there are health factors that can trigger early hormonal changes. It can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms as the body adjusts to this new life stage, such as (but not limited to):
- Mood swings
- Depression and anxiety
- Brain fog
- Hot flushes
- Sleep problems, such as insomnia
- Hair loss
- Change in cholesterol levels (which can increase the risk of heart disease)
- Increased risk of osteoporosis (fragile bones or even bone loss)
How menopause can impact women in the workplace
According to research by Peppy Health, 1 in 4 women will consider leaving their job due to menopause symptoms. 63% have reported that it has negatively impacted their performance at work.
Furthermore, an estimated 14 million working days are lost annually due to menopause symptoms. And yet 39% of companies had no plans to introduce support for their employees affected. So, what can be done?
“Our workforce is evolving; the working population is getting older, women are working longer and taking on more senior roles. In order to be able to meet their full potential, our attitude towards menopause must evolve too.”
Director of Menopause Services at Peppy and the immediate past chair of the British Menopause Society
How to support employees during the menopause
Discretion is essential to maintaining the confidence of your employees.
#1 Breaking down barriers
Initially, it’s important to create a safe space. Reassure your employees that they can talk without fear of judgement, or that their job security could be at risk. You can do this by observing dates like Menopause Awareness Month, or making it a topic in your wellbeing hub.
#2 Empowering and educating managers
Next steps are empowering management to learn how to talk about it and support their teams. The CIPD talks about how you can do that:
Educate managers about the menopause, who it can affect, and how they can support colleagues going through it. Give them adequate training and development to confidently manage attendance in their team – a robust yet flexible absence management framework that highlights the menopause as a potential long-term and fluctuating health condition will help managers take the right approach to suit individual circumstances. Train managers to take a proactive and positive approach to performance management that takes on board any health issues.
#3 It’s not just a conversation for women
The Menopause Workplace Pledge was created to help break down barriers and educate workplaces. Their website has some fantastic resources, including stories from those who have taken the workplace pledge:
“Talk freely, ask questions, and realise that menopause affects all people: women, men, children, mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents and friends. Sometimes it’s the natural progression of life, other times it’s forced upon us medically. And you are never too young to experience it.”
Gawaine MacDuff-Clack, works for first direct, a company that has signed our Menopause Workplace Pledge
How do employee benefits come into menopause support?
We encourage all our clients to take a holistic approach to their employee care packages. Most employee benefits packages offer access to private healthcare or medical insurances, but have you considered provisions for menopause?
Benefit programmes focusing on the menopause, such as an appropriate menopause policy, support networks and employer-funded care, encourage a better workplace culture.
Private healthcare plans and menopause services
Educating your employees to understand how their health insurance can help with menopause symptoms is a great starting place. While menopause is not a health condition per se, some of the symptoms can be acute conditions. This includes heavy bleeding, pain, prolapse, incontinence, and the impact on mental health.
Better yet, certain health insurance firms now offer menopause services with access to specialists who can work with your own GP to support you. So, it’s worth checking what your provider offers in this way.
Mental health days
Mood swings are one of the stereotypical symptoms that get commented on when we think about menopause. And while it seems like a bit of a trope, the mental load and the fluctuation in hormone levels can make way for anxiety, depression, burn out, and brain fog.
Offering mental health days in your company policy can really help your team, especially those who may be suffering. Just don’t forget to make resources such as mental healthcare services, EAP, and wellbeing activities available too, to help compliment recovery.
The first step to supporting one another is through education. By making learning a priority in your organisation, you can help make your workplace an inclusive environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.
Forward-thinking companies are adapting their policies to offer specific care and packages that support all kinds of life events, such as family planning, bereavement and loss, chronic illness, and mental health.
The next step is communication. FlexGenius comes with a suite of built-in communication tools, such as email newsletters, in-app announcements, and surveys. So you can create an easy to use, even easier to maintain communication strategy that keeps your employees in the loop on what you’re doing for them, and what they’re entitled to.
Don’t just take our word for it though. We have many happy customers whose results speak for us. Treatt saw an incredible uplift in their employee engagement to an enviable 85% since migrating their flexible employee benefits platform to FlexGenius.
If you’d like to book a demo of our first-class software, get in touch to find out how we can help.