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Menopause in the workplace: how can you help?

It’s natural and it’s part of life. So why is menopause such a taboo subject, and even stigmatised?

Menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45-55, although 1 in 100 women can experience menopause earlier. Some women may not get many symptoms. But for most, symptoms can last 4-8 years.

Yes. 4-8 years.

And what are the symptoms, I hear you ask?

Hot flushes, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, brain fog, memory issues, mood swings, weight gain and depression, to name a few. And to make matters worse there’s the ongoing stigma and embarrassment in the workplace.

People experiencing menopause are currently the fastest-growing workplace demographic. But, for every 10 women experiencing symptoms, 6 say it has a negative impact on their work.

So, why is there the expectation that women going through menopause should be ‘content’ with the normal work environment?

What can you do as an employer to break the stigma and support your employees?

Create an open culture

We all react and communicate differently in the workplace; we are human after all.

And this is true for your employees during menopause. Some will be open to discussing their experience, and others will be more reserved. Both are absolutely okay (we cannot stress this enough!)

But just because someone is outgoing and openly speaking about their menopause journey doesn’t mean they’re not struggling.

And just because someone is more private, doesn’t mean they don’t need to speak to someone.

So, what can you do as an employer to ensure you are supporting your employees through this journey?

Create an open culture!

Educate your workforce on menopause. Hold wellbeing sessions. Provide the platform for discussions, anonymously or even with a group.

19% of employees going through menopause don’t know who to speak to regarding support.

Sometimes just knowing there’s someone to talk to helps. Menopause shouldn’t be taboo, and everyone should feel confident that there is someone to speak to for advice, or just a chat.

Support Flexibility

We’ve all had those days in the office when we just know we would’ve felt better off working from home. Under the weather, on your period, tired, …one episode on Netflix last night turned into five?

So, thinking about all those menopause symptoms, doesn’t it make sense that those struggling might not want to be in the office?

31% reported taking time off work due to menopause symptoms that have affected their job performance, and almost 1 million women have left their job because of this.

Menopausal women are the fastest-growing workplace demographic, and with 97% of UK employers offering or planning to offer hybrid working, new choices on work environment will be made. Hybrid working provides flexibility, which enables employees during menopause to feel their best at work, without compromising their productivity or diminishing their ability.

Do you offer a hybrid working scheme? If you want to retain your best talent, you’ll need to!

Cater to your talent and let them know they have your support before someone else will.

Provide the bare necessities

Sometimes it’s the small acts of support that can help your employees going through this daunting period in their life.

89% of employees going through menopause didn’t request adjustments due to their symptoms as a result of stigma, with 26% citing they were worried about the reactions of others.

Here are just a few very reasonable adjustments you can make in your workplace:

  • Provide desk fans
  • Introduce a more relaxed dress code
  • Encourage people to take breaks to go for a walk and fresh air
  • Don’t question time out for appointments
  • Provide toiletries in bathrooms

With just a few small changes, you’re providing extra comfort and support to your employees going through this period which is going to have a massive positive impact on their mental health, making this time a little more bearable.

Create allies in your workforce

We’ve all heard them. We may have even been guilty of them ourselves. But menopause jokes are not okay, especially in the workplace.

Hearing a joke about your situation, even if not personally directed, can be upsetting and embarrassing. And it can have detrimental effects on mental health.

So why is menopause made a joke, especially in the workplace? It’s a natural life cycle that will affect 50% of us!

Simply put: a lack of understanding.

To support your workforce, you must allow the opportunity for your employees to learn and grasp a better understanding of menopause and what women endure during this period in their life.

Do your research. Produce presentations and talks to educate your workforce. Provide specific menopause awareness training.

If your employees can have a greater understanding, they will be able to empathise more and frankly be better equipped to support each other in the workplace.

Women are warriors so give them the credit. What may seem a small gesture in your eyes, can go a serious distance for someone suffering.

Written by Claire Moloney

Claire is an enthusiastic and meticulous content writer whose passion is to support growth and continual learning for everyone.

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