The Office of National Statistics highlights that ‘menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce demographic.’ With our population living longer and working longer, it’s essential that staff are supported to stay healthy and thrive in the workplace.
World Menopause Day (WMD) is an annual event that aims to raise awareness about the effects of menopause on health and well-being around the world, and at Red Diamond we want to use this event to encourage organisations to talk about menopause openly, to help raise awareness and to encourage senior leadership teams to put the right support in place.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing, but for some, it can be difficult to deal with, both physically and emotionally. More women are working later in life, and employers are facing new challenges when it comes to assessing how best to support employees experiencing menopause symptoms whilst at work. We need to be clear that menopause is not just a gender or age issue; it impacts colleagues both directly and indirectly, and therefore it should be considered an organisational issue.
Red Diamond’s MD Emma Robinson explained, “I think it’s fair to say that there are some companies which have been slow to respond to managing an age-diverse workforce in a proactive way. It’s time we stopped dismissing the menopause as “women’s issues” and recognise and support them as workplace health concerns.
“It’s key to educate whole organisations, and managers and HR teams must know about it and understand how best to support their staff. Short-term investment can prevent long-term issues, and gaining buy-in from senior leaders will help bring health and wellbeing priorities to the top of the agenda.”
Effects Of Menopause On Women In The Workplace
The ways in which menopause affects women in the workplace are wide and varied. Awareness is fundamental and reducing the stigma attached to it is essential so that menopause can begin to be normalised in the workplace, in the same way that pregnancy and maternity are spoken about, and the fear of negative, age-related perceptions are removed.
Symptoms of menopause can last up to 10 years and range from cognitive, physical and psychological symptoms. Some common examples include hot flashes, muscular aches, memory and poor concentration, depression, anxiety and headaches which can impact women during their daily life.
With a reluctance from people to discuss menopausal difficulties with their line manager, women try to manage the impact of these symptoms, which can affect self-confidence, their normal performance levels, daytime tiredness, mental health and relationships with others – all of which will influence not only their life outside work but also their working life, particularly given the stresses and strains of a demanding workplace.
What Can Employers Do To Support Menopause?
It is clear that employers don’t have clear processes or policies in place to support women coping with menopausal symptoms within the workplace, and a culture change can take time to embed. The number of menopause-related tribunals is on the increase and to date, have been found to be in favour of the employee.
Efforts to raise the profile of menopause must be ongoing and with the right support at work, women can maintain high-performance levels as well as appreciating their jobs.
What Examples Could Employers Have Within Their Menopause Process?
Introducing and/or reviewing the organisation’s policies and procedures to include workplace guidelines such as health and safety, sickness absence, flexible working and performance management, that take into account the impact of menopausal symptoms
Providing information training for male and female line managers and HR staff on how to discuss best and support colleagues experiencing menopause
Improving conditions for workers by making suitable adjustments to the physical and psychosocial work environment
Understanding the minimum legal requirements that employers must consider in their handling of workers experiencing the menopause
Providing a regular and consistent stream of information and support
Use existing and established sources of information to make a visible commitment to raising awareness about menopause and the impact of menopausal symptoms
Creating a transparent working environment
Emma Robinson concludes: “Employers should lead the way in removing any old-fashioned taboos about menopause and support staff during this natural cycle of life. It’s important to approach menopause holistically, and it’s also worth bearing in mind that menopause symptoms will eventually go away!
“It’s for each organisation to decide the level of formality needed when introducing a framework to value and support individuals in the workplace, but developing a dedicated policy or plan on menopause can provide clarity for managers and employees. A minimal change is needed for a positive effect.”