Women are an integral part of any workforce and those over 50 are the fastest growing demographic.
And that means there’s a huge pool of talent and expertise that your business could be missing out on if you don’t start to recognise and tackle the realities of menopause.
It might surprise you to learn that:
- About 14 million working days are lost each year because of the impact of menopause
- As many as 20% of women have considered resignation because they’ve received no support from their employer
- 75% of women say they feel uncomfortable talking about menopause with their manager
- 44% of women say their ability to work has been affected by their symptoms
Recruiting new staff or covering for those who cannot work is expensive, so it makes sense to support your female staff. There are also several wider benefits for your business:
- Reduced number of sick days
- Increased productivity
- Higher morale
- Improved employee relations
- Improved brand reputation
There are more than 40 symptoms related to perimenopause including increased anxiety, loss of concentration, memory loss, mood changes, hot flushes, joint pain and fatigue. And it’s not just about ‘women of a certain age’. Menopause can occur at any age and is often prematurely induced due to surgery or medical treatments.
Here are 3 ways you can support those employees who are struggling with menopause related symptoms so they can continue to be a valuable asset to your business:
Lack of understanding and misconceptions about what menopause actually is and when it happens is one of the major issues facing those struggling. Educating line managers to recognise the signs and have the confidence to have supportive conversations with their people is one of the most valuable things an organisation can do. But it’s important that all employees are given awareness training to dispel myths and improve working relationships. Menopause impacts everyone, whether directly or indirectly, regardless of age or gender.
Make it absolutely clear that as an organisation you support and speak out for those dealing with menopause related symptoms. Create a culture where everyone feels comfortable to speak up and ask for support when needed. Promptly challenge inappropriate comments or behaviours that could lead to someone feeling disadvantaged or bullied because of their symptoms. Encourage in-house support groups where those experiencing symptoms can talk to colleagues and share their experiences. Have clear policy or guidance documents that provide direction and reassurance that as an organisation you recognise and support those who may be struggling.
To facilitate is to make things easier for others. As an organisation consider if your systems, processes and policies make it easy for people to get the help they need. Consider reasonable adjustments such as allowing more frequent breaks for those struggling with physical or emotional symptoms. Are uniforms menopause friendly? Can employees access extra uniform if they need to change more frequently? Do you offer genuine flexibility in terms of start/finish times or work from home options? Do your absence and performance management policies consider menopause symptoms?
Whilst the menopause transition can be a difficult time for some people, there is plenty of evidence to show that with the right help, a supportive environment and some small, usually temporary, workplace adaptations women can continue to be a valuable and productive asset to a business.
About the Author:
Bev Thorogood is a menopause specialist trainer and coach, TEDx speaker and author of The Business of Menopause, A Guide for Working Women. She is the Director of Floresco Training Ltd, a specialist menopause in the workplace training provider based in South Lincolnshire.