Menopause is something that affects half the population at some point in their lives, and yet until recently was very rarely spoken about, particularly in the work environment. However now the tide is shifting, and women are starting to speak openly about the challenges that menopause can bring. Employers are becoming more aware and we are starting to see clients asking for advice e.g. on introducing a Menopause Policy.
It makes sense for employers to address the issue: recent studies show that a quarter of women have considered leaving their job due to juggling the challenges of menopause and work, and 1 in 10 actually do end up handing in their notice. This means employers are losing a member of staff, often when they should be at the peak of their careers.
Once of the most helpful things employers can do is to start the conversation, and help menopause become something that can be talked about honestly and openly, rather than something to be embarrassed about.
It is worth bearing in mind that when talking about the menopause we usually mean all three stages: peri-menopause, menopause and post-menopause, which together can go on for many years.
Menopause can lead to a wide range of symptoms, both physical and psychological, and those going through it may have quite differing experiences in terms of the symptoms they have, how severe they are, and how this affects them in the workplace.
Although most of the people experiencing menopause will be women, it will also impact on trans, non-binary and intersex (DSD) people and any policies should be inclusive of everyone affected.
There are lots of practical steps that an organisation can do to help someone experiencing menopause, often with minimal disruption or cost. For example, improving access to toilet facilities, letting someone sit near a window or have access to a fan, or allowing flexible timings for breaks, can all make a big difference
Employers can also help by providing information and support and encouraging employees to seek the help they need.
As with so many workplace issues, the secret to success is good communication with employees – listening to an individual’s concerns and providing support will make them feel valued and reassured.
If you’d like help building a menopause policy or exploring other ways you can help, we’d be delighted to help.