Why it is important to educate staff and managers on menopause.
We are an aging population and are working into our later years of life. This is thanks to the increase in retirement age and the ability to remain fit and healthier longer with modern medicine. Whilst we are grateful for the life longevity, I can’t say there has been the same welcome for the increase in retirement age. But what does this mean for the workforce?
Menopause comes to all females at some point in life. It’s a naturally occurring event that some sail through easily with very few symptoms, while others battle and struggle through the transition.
Why is it important to address menopause in the workplace?
- Menopausal women are the fastest growing workforce.- Professor Jo Brewis, co-author of the Government Report on Menopause.
- 8 out of 10 menopausal women are working.- Faculty of Occupational Medicine
- 45% of women say their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work.- British Menopause Society
How menopause can impact on work
Many women don’t feel comfortable talking about the menopause or their symptoms, especially to managers. It can make a huge difference to employees when they are made to feel as though what they are going through is normal and there is an open culture in support. Many menopausal women find themselves considering another employer, in fact one in four consider it. But if the culture, support and systems are in place, this can greatly be reduced.
Providing workshops and resources to staff that inform them about what happens in the female body during menopause and what symptoms are associated with this, makes a huge difference. We all know about the hot flushes but there are actually 34 different symptoms known to be caused through perimenopause and menopause. When women have a greater understanding of what is happening to them and how to manage their own symptoms, they can swiftly get back to living a more normal life. Also, younger colleagues will be better able to support their menopausal co-workers.
Regular informal ‘check ins’ are great for maintaining good employee relations and can provide an opportunity to find out how the staff member can be personally supported. Managers do not need to be menopause experts, but simply show a caring and open attitude towards menopause and signpost them to further support as needed.
Setting up support groups for your employees to meet other employees currently going through this phase, can be massively helpful too. It makes them feel normal and less alone and they can share experiences and useful tips on managing symptoms.
What organisations can do
Menopause in the workplace should be part of the health and safety concerns for managers and handled with care and sensitivity.
The changes need to come from the top when it comes to ensuring support for employees. It’s recommended that organisations have something in writing that managers can refer to when it comes to supporting staff.
Other things to consider are the control of workplace temperature and ventilation. How can they be adapted to meet the needs of individuals. Can you provide fans or cooler spaces for staff rooms? Sleep disturbances can be issue so can managers consider shift changes or flexible working hours if workers have had little sleep and feel unsafe to work. Providing access to cold drinking water at all times is also very helpful to manage symptoms and considerations could be made with uniform fabrics and styles.
Anything that managers can do to make menopausal employees feel more comfortable through their working hours, goes a long way to ensuring that they retain valued staff members, who have years of training and experience.
For more information on Empowerplan's Menopause Workshops visit our Workshops page and request a brochure.