Menopause and the Workplace

The Perimenopause and Menopause is something that affects all of us, whether we think it does or not; we are either someone who will go through it or someone who knows someone going through it, so we all have a responsibility both at work and at home to increase our awareness and knowledge in order to offer support to those going through the perimenopause and menopause.

After conversations with friends, family and colleagues, we wanted to do some research into menopause to see how it affects those going through it at work, and to see what companies can be doing to support their colleagues and employees going through the menopause.

We attended a webinar with Peppy last week – a healthcare app available for companies to roll out across their workforce whose mission is to ensure that more people receive the support they need, when they need it, particularly when it comes to major life transitions like menopause, fertility and becoming a parent. From this, we were astounded to learn that of people going through menopause 1 in 3 will take time off for sick leave, that 1 in 10 consider leaving their place of work all together, and that 63% of people going through menopause found that their symptoms made them less engaged and productive in work.

Some of the main symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause are problems with memory and concentration, hot flushes, low mood, anxiety as well as many others that are available to see on the NHS website, so it’s no wonder that these can affect the day to day lives and work of those going through the menopause. Experiencing these symptoms for the first time can also cause concern or worry, with many saying they thought their symptoms were a sign of a more serious medical condition. The average age for menopause is between 45 and 60 years old, but it is important to remember that this can start much earlier, and at these ages for most of us, our work is still a huge part of our daily lives.

So what can employers do to support those going through the menopause at work and to ensure they create an environment that is a safe place to open up and talk about menopause? We have put together 10 tips as a starting point on how we believe employers can support those going through the menopause:

  1. Be patient, kind and understanding – menopause is not just a physical change but a mental and psychological one too.
  2. Set up Support Groups and Networking Events – talking to others going through the same thing, particularly in the workplace can be a great way to relieve any stress, worries and concerns.
  3. Make sure any support information is easily available to employees, remember some colleagues may not feel confident to ask initially, or may want to keep their support choice private, so have this easily accessible, whether that be through posters, flyers or support lines in staff newsletters or HR files for example.
  4. Set up Training and Education Workshops for staff – it’s important that all colleagues have a good awareness of menopause, the symptoms and how it can affect people in the workplace so that they too can offer support to their fellow colleagues.
  5. Find ways to make the workplace more comfortable, is there a place for that person to rest or get fresh air? Also, be flexible with hours, breaks and even place of work, can this person work more comfortably from home for example?
  6. Ensure you have a clear framework and guidelines in place for employees and managers to encourage and find supportive solutions and to avoid any form of discrimination.
  7. Carry out Risk, Health & Safety Assessments regularly within the workplace.
  8. Invest in an outside service for your teams such as Peppy – an app that provides support for not just the menopause but also fertility and new parenting advice and support.
  9. Review your mental health, wellbeing and wellness procedures regularly and make sure your team are aware of what you have in place for them.
  10. Conduct regular employee surveys and introduce more wellness questions into reviews – it’s important that employers are encouraging not just a good work life balance but a good work life harmony!

You can read more about perimenopause, menopause and the symptoms on the NHS website here.

Don’t forget to speak with your GP if you have any worries or concerns, you can also access your local mental health support charity via the Hub of Hope available on the NHS Website.