Employees going through menopause and experiencing menopausal symptoms still don’t receive the support they need when it comes to maintaining their work performance. What’s worse is that the impact menopause has on employees often goes unspoken.
Research shows that women experiencing menopause are likely to have their performance impacted with one in ten admitting that they have left their job due to menopausal symptoms. There have also been instances where women have been faced with disciplinary action, reduced hours, or forced time off due to symptoms of menopause.
The lack of support and awareness among employers and employees is perhaps the biggest challenge to breaking the taboo and normalising the issue in a business context, but the increased publicity and awareness that is being generated around this topic is also a good reason to make it a part of the HR agenda.
Agenda to protect employees experiencing menopause
Since mid-2022 parliament has been debating bringing legislation to support working women who are experiencing menopause. This includes implementing a menopause policy that they believe should be standard for every organisation.
While there are yet to be any direct legislative changes, employers are encouraged to actively create better workplaces for all employees who are going through menopause.
Initiatives to help manage menopause at the workplace
A survey conducted by the British Menopause Society reported that 45% of women felt that symptoms of menopause had a negative impact on their work with 47% stating that they needed to take a day off as a result of their symptoms. What’s more interesting is that the respondents also stated that they wouldn’t tell their employer why they needed a day off.
So the questions focus on how employers can support their staff who are not just experiencing menopause, but also on how they can create a workplace where employees don’t have to worry about speaking up and are not made to feel embarrassed.
Start a conversation
Employers shouldn’t shy away from taking the lead on making menopause a topic of conversation and actively supporting women who are experiencing these symptoms. While some women may feel embarrassed to speak about it, it’s important to break the stigma and empower women to discuss their issues with confidence.
You can even promote one-on-one sessions or create support groups led by a subject expert to regularly discuss and get the support they need. Create a safe space where women can share their experiences with other women who are going through the same situation and make suggestions on how the workplace can accommodate their needs better.
The group can even act as champions who can put together initiatives that drive awareness and support throughout the organisation.
Awareness is key
Menopause isn’t a topic that only needs to be a point of conversation among women who experience it and their managers. It’s something that every member of staff needs to be aware of and one way to do this is by having every employee take part in mandatory awareness sessions.
These sessions are important to give your employees a strong understanding of menopause, its symptoms, and its impact, and also to give them the opportunity to ask questions and clarify any misconceptions they may have.
Employers can also help stimulate more openness around the topic of menopause in the workplace, encouraging more women to open up about their experiences and get the support they need.
Create a menopause policy
It isn’t enough just talking about it. If employers are to make a commitment toward addressing and supporting employees going through menopause then it’s important to solidify that commitment by introducing relevant policies.
Depending on the size and culture of the organisation the format or complexity of the policies may change. For instance, in the case of small-scale companies, it could be more practical to add a provision on menopause into the wellbeing policy or the D&I policy, while for bigger organisations you may need to create a stand-alone policy.
Whatever the type or size of the organisation, it’s important to have something documented to show your commitment to creating a supportive environment for women experiencing menopause. This will give managers and employees clarity about the standards that are in place and will offer the organisation a starting point to evaluate their existing processes and improve them.
Final thoughts on menopause and the workplace from Kinhub
Menopause isn’t just an issue that’s limited by age or gender since colleagues and managers can also be impacted by the symptoms making it an organisational concern.
Managers need to be aware and find ways to support their team members. Having the appropriate support channels in place can go a long way in helping employees to get the guidance they need right from the start and find ways to manage their symptoms.
Having access to experts and specialists who are skilled at helping employees who are going through menopause can greatly improve the quality of their life and also give them the support system they need to manage menopausal symptoms and their work.