Women’s Health: Menopause Awareness in the Workplace
Why having an impact on menopause awareness matters…
According to CIPD, women (and others*) within the menopausal age range are quickly becoming the fastest growing age group in the UK workforce. However, there is a big issue impacting this age group which has only very recently been called to the attention of some employers and is still ignored by many – that issue being menopause.
Studies show that 3.5 million women around the menopausal age range are working, meaning that as many as 10% of the UK workforce are currently struggling with symptoms associated with the menopause. Of this 10% affected by the menopause, 50% report finding work increasingly difficult due to their symptoms, while 10% feel forced leave work altogether.
Menopause is a completely natural transition for women (and others*) so we see it as an appropriate time to nurture a sense of awareness on the subject and make meaningful support accessible to all. To aid in the education of Women’s Menstrual Health, we offer our informative and creative workshops in ‘Menopause Awareness’ and ‘Menopause Through Art Making’ expertly crafted especially for teams and professionals. If you’d like to learn more about these workshops or enquire, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So what should you know about the menopause?
Menopause is defined by the NHS as a “natural part of ageing” that impacts women (and others*) as their oestrogen levels decline and they become unable to conceive naturally. This generally occurs around 44-53 years of age and can be identified by the gradual “slowing” of menstrual periods (or when cycles eventually/suddenly stop altogether).
For women and those experiencing menopausal symptoms firsthand, the lack of understanding and awareness can make it feel like an embarrassing and lonely transition in life. Menopause comes with a wide range of common physical and mental symptoms that have the ability to impact overall health and happiness, which is also likely to impact social, family and working relationships at the same time.
According to Mayo Clinic these symptoms can include:
- Poor concentration
- Weakened memory
- Decreased self-confidence
- Compromised mental health
- Hot flashes and chills (feverish)
- Difficulty sleeping and insomnia
- Mood changes
- Lack of energy
- Excessive sweating
- Hair loss
- Weight gain
- Among other things…
With all of these notable changes, many will also go on to struggle professionally in terms of overall job satisfaction, engagement, self-perceived performance and commitment to their organisations.
So…The big problem here?
A lot of this negative impact is entirely avoidable!
The lack of understanding, awareness and support revolving around the subject means that menopausal individuals are highly unlikely to speak out about their struggles and fail to seek help when they need it. As a result, their symptoms will often go misdiagnosed (or undiagnosed altogether) running the risk of physical and mental symptoms worsening.
Over time, this is likely to have a long-term impact on their own overall personal and professional wellbeing, as well as those around them. The truth is, menopause does not just affect those directly experiencing it. It can also impact working and personal relationships, create tension in the working environment, and it can also affect performance, adding pressure on those working on the same project.
It is important to understand that menopause awareness in the workplace isn’t solely concerned with helping women to understand their menstrual health. But, it is also concerned with helping others to understand, creating a general awareness of the signs and symptoms, so that working environments, company policies and team dynamics can better accommodate and provide meaningful support to those experiencing menopause-related challenges.
Maintaining an age diverse, happy and healthy workforce is in everyone’s best interest. It creates an environment where younger generations are able to learn from the firsthand experience and knowledge of older colleagues. An environment where positive culture enables teams to lean on each other in times of need, making them more self-sufficient. Organisations will even benefit from the diverse perspectives, values and ideas that age diverse workforces bring to the table. But to access this added value, workplaces need to be seen as being empathetic to the struggles of this age group and creating policies and positive change that reflect and aid their situations… That includes understanding and informing others on important matters like the menopause.
What can organisations do to help promote awareness?
As leaders are responsible for the health and safety of their teams, it is in their best interest to understand the menopause, inform others of the impact it may have on those directly impacted and to implement policies that enable affected employees to cope better and feel supported.
1 Encourage an open, positive culture
Firstly, organisations would benefit from introducing a menopause dialogue among their teams, encouraging an open, positive culture. It is important for women to know that their challenges are addressed and understood so as to help them feel better supported and included in the workplace. At the same time, it is also important for leaders and organisations to address and educate others on the value that older females bring into the workforce, so that there can be a shared understanding of why it is so important to retain these professionals and adapt policies to better accommodate them.
However, even when opening up the dialogue to women, employers, leaders and people professionals should be aware that many individuals experiencing menopause may still not feel entirely comfortable discussing personal matters with those that they have a direct working relationship with. In this case, organisations would benefit from introducing an “employee assistance programme” that could create a safe space for women to openly discuss their problems or offer scheduled, confidential meetings with an employee welfare officer.
2 Audit and adapt current environments and policies to their needs
Studies have shown that working environments and company policies have the potential to majorly impact the way professionals perform and feel while at work. That is why it is important for organisations to seriously consider auditing and adapting working environments in order to better accommodate menopausal employees. For example, employers could offer air conditioning and fans to those that may be experiencing uncomfortable hot flushes, comfortable spaces with heating for those experiencing chills, and even flexible working hours for those impacted by poor mental health and insomnia.
By auditing current environments and policies, companies can have a better idea of how they can make improvements that will truly make a difference.
3 Make educating about menopause a priority
Menopause has the potential to impact everyone, that is why it should be every organisation’s priority to start offering information, training and support for its teams (irrespective of their age or gender). Not only will this provide organisations with another vital opportunity to nurture the diversity of its teams, but it will also help to educate pre-menopausal women of potential challenges ahead, making them more likely to seek help and making them more easily retained as employees.
If you’re interested in more in-depth reading on menopause guidance for HR, People Managers, Team Leaders and even your teams, please read:
- ACAS: Menopause at Work
- Faculty of Occupational Medicine: Advice on the Menopause
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists: Menopause and Women’s Health
- Henpicked: Menopause Hub
- TUC: Supporting Women Through the Menopause
- Institute of Work, Health and Organisations: Women’s Experience of Working Through Menopause
- CIPD: Let’s Talk Menopause
- CIPD: Guide for Professionals
- CIPD: Practical Guide for People Managers
Now, we would love to open the dialogue up to you and ask you to share your thoughts with us on the subject! To join this important conversation, email us at email@example.com and let us know your opinion, any ideas that you think could be helpful for employers and also let us know what we can do to help those affected!
Also, if you would like to download and print out our menopause infographic to share with your team or place in your working environments you can access the file here: Menopause Awareness Infographic by Talent Courtyard
*Note: We would like to recognise and acknowledge that not only those identifying as ‘women’ or ‘female’ may be experiencing menopause. We have written this article to be as sensitive as possible to varying gender identities. However, if you can offer us any insightful guidance to be more inclusive please let us know.
- Upcoming Wellbeing Events for Individuals
- Wellbeing Workshops for Workplaces
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- How to Cope With Back-To-Work Anxiety
- PRIDE and the Importance of Inclusivity in the Workplace
- Wellbeing at Work: CIPD