Menopause and the Workplace: A Brief Guide

Menopause and the Workplace: A Brief Guide

Employee wellbeing is becoming more important all the time and one topic that hasn’t been featured as prominently is the Menopause.

In 2022, during this turbulent time with the cost of living, quiet-quitting and financial uncertainty we are all looking for ways to engage with our employees, to keep employee retention high and drive better results.

Addressing the menopause as a topic goes beyond doing the right thing. It allows your team to work more closely together. Stress at work can be contagious and allowing your team to suffer in silence mounts huge pressure on the individual and those around them.

You can read more about menopause at work here

What is the menopause?

The menopause is caused by a change in hormone levels in women which causes a raft of symptoms including hot flushes, mood swings and memory problems.

Conversations can really make a difference along with a healthy diet and regular exercise. Whilst employers will have less influence over exercise and diet (except perhaps on a day out!) conversations are something employers can help with, even if people are not comfortable discussing it in an open forum.

Why is addressing the menopause important for the workplace?

The menopause usually lasts 7 years but it can be up to double this. This can have a detrimental effect on both physical and mental wellbeing.

The menopause can affect performance and attitude at work leading to a breakdown in working relationships and employee wellbeing.

The Menopause: What you need to know

Menopause Symptoms

Symptoms are different for every person for both the menopause and perimenopause. These can have a massive impact on daily life. The NHS highlights many symptoms but the following can really affect people in the workplace:

Mental health can be particularly impacted with mood swings and anxiety. These symptoms can be heightened by perceived or real underperformance and creates a vicious cycle if you don’t address it.

Physical symptoms such as hot flushes, migraines or insomnia can cause discomfort and disorientation during the working day.

In fact, a 2016 study found that up to a quarter of menopausal women consider leaving during the menopause and Wellbeing of Women shares that 900,000 women have already quit work because of the menopause.

This can have a knock-on effect on diversity in the workplace and underrepresentation with wide reaching consequences.

Tips for employers addressing the menopause and reasonable adjustment ideas

Here are 8 ways to make a difference:

  1. Give your team a voice

Create an inclusive environment where employees feel comfortable to talk about their condition and confident that they will be listened to.

  1. Raise awareness

Educate your team and managers, so they can lead from the front in creating a psychologically safe environment for people at the time when they need it most.

  1. Get the team involved

Champion the best qualities of your team to support others. Keep things simple so you can give people the right toolkit to help their colleagues, without overwhelming them with complex terminology.

  1. Provide resources

Have a list of external resources that employees can draw on for help throughout the life course of the menopause. Make sure these are from credible sources and keep these on a file on the shared office drive for easy access.

  1. Create a policy

Make sure everyone is on the same page and has a straightforward way to approach the topic when the time comes.

  1. Be patient

This is not a condition that disappears overnight, adapt accordingly to bring the best out in your employees, after all people are your biggest asset.

  1. Think Flexible

Consider offering flexibility around appointment times or wellbeing days for people experiencing the menopause. Everyone is different and the menopause will be unique for each person who experiences it.

There are lots of things to consider with this topic. Reach out if you need some extra advice on sharing this with your team and the best approach.

  1. Get The Right Support

Talk Staff can guide you through the process of introducing this topic to your team in a sensitive and engaging way.

There are lots of things to consider with this topic. Reach out if you need some extra advice to develop the best approach.

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A Note on Transgender Inclusion

The menopause can also affect the transgender community, including similar symptoms occurring during treatment.

Transgender people may not wish to openly share details of their transition and companies need to create a working environment where employees can speak candidly about what they are going through without feeling they must share every detail with the whole team.

Innovative ways employers are making a change

The Menopause Friendly Awards

The Menopause friendly Awards celebrated organisations in September 2022 that are leading the way with Menopause Friendly Employer of the year, Most open workplace and Best engagement campaign as categories amongst others. 

Menopause workplace pledge

Many organisations are signing this Wellbeing Of Women pledge to make a difference. Of course, action is the most important thing.

It is particularly important that employees see positive change as something long-term and practiced openly rather than ‘jumping on the band wagon’ without visible change.

Other companies are looking at Menopause Friendly Accreditation or creating awareness campaigns inside and outside their organisation.

Grab free menopause resources

Whilst no-one should experience isolation as they through the menopause, you should not feel alone as an employer in seeking the right resources to educate you.

CIPD have launched a great suite of resources to break the stigma, educate HR managers and line managers too.

You can also read the British Menopause Society’s response to the Department of health and Social Care’s call for evidence on this important topic.

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Last Updated on 2 months by Hannah Ingram

Author: Gary Parsons
Gary is CEO at Talk Staff, passionate about the role that people play in helping build long-term and sustainable businesses. He sits on local business advisory boards and has been key in leading the growth of Talk Staff from inception in 2009.