Menopausal symptoms in the workplace is something employers in the UK don’t always pay enough attention to, but they present serious issues at work for millions of individuals every year – menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace.
There are 3.5 million women over 50 in the workplace in the UK, and the average age a woman starts her menopause is 51. For every ten women experiencing menopausal symptoms, six say it has a negative impact on their work, with 49% of the menopausal workforce considering taking early retirement.
Symptoms can include hot flushes, fatigue, low mood, poor concentration, memory problems, anxiety, depression, and low self-confidence.
Yet, in a recent survey, 90% of women said that their workplace had no help available at all when it came to employees going through the menopause.
Supporting staff who go through the menopause could not only improve employee retention and performance – it also demonstrates the business genuinely cares about its employees, which is an important aspect of employee engagement. Those who invest in menopause-specific support could find themselves with employees who are more productive, satisfied, loyal and confident at work.
So, our HR & Employment Law experts have put together their top tips for dealing with menopause in the workplace, so you can start helping your employees immediately.
Our ten top tips
It’s important that individuals feel able to have an open conversation about the menopause and how it can potentially make their time at work more challenging. Regular one-to-ones with managers can establish the trust necessary for employees to feel comfortable in discussing any issues they may be experiencing.
Recognise that even employees who enjoy great relationships with their manager may still be embarrassed to discuss the difficulties they’re experiencing at work because of menopausal symptoms. Equally, even with training many managers may struggle with these initial discussions.
That’s why it’s a good idea to appoint a Menopause Champion in your business as a point of contact for anyone who needs support in this area. This is a good way of encouraging individuals to open up about any issues, with the confidence that they are speaking with someone who is fully aware of the symptoms of the perimenopause and the menopause.
Many women still feel there is a stigma around discussing menopausal issues. So, it’s important for employers to combat this by communicating to employees that they understand the challenges they may be facing and they want to support them.
By having early and regular conversations with staff, managers will have a better understanding of their needs and can check the support they need is in place – before problems arise.
It may also be useful to put posters up around the workspace so that the menopause comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind.
While it’s important that individuals feel able to speak with those who they work with about the menopause and symptoms they may be experiencing, it would also be useful for them to know where they could access external resources. Some examples are:
The menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for both employers and employees. Small adjustments – such as providing desk fans, a water fountain with cool water, temperature control in the office, or the re-visiting of a dress code so that individuals can wear looser clothing if that would be preferable – are important. Any requests for support should be handled sensitively.
While individuals who are experiencing negative symptoms of the perimenopause or the menopause can submit a flexible working request, these can take up to three months to complete, and they can only submit one in a 12-month period.
It may be worthwhile to consider offering temporary changes to working conditions for those who request them to alleviate the symptoms they are experiencing – such as more frequent breaks, a change to their start or finish times and to allow them to work from home.
This will demonstrate how committed the company is to ensuring that the menopause is treated seriously in the workplace and will give individuals clear guidance on how to raise to any concerns they may have about how their symptoms may be impacting their work.
The three stages to the menopause are perimenopause, menopause and postmenopause. All stages of the menopause are different, and symptoms can vary from person to person, ranging from very mild to severe. Some people may also experience early menopause or go through surgical menopause earlier in their lives. These types of menopause can be medically complicated, which is something to consider when supporting staff.
Alongside a menopause champion, individuals will feel more confident in talking to their manager about the menopause and the symptoms they may be experiencing if the managers have been properly trained. You should ensure they have knowledge of the menopause and are able to identify what support and guidance the company can offer.
Individuals affected by any stage of the menopause may have symptoms that are made worse by the workplace. A menopause risk assessment may be appropriate, where you consider the ventilation in the workplace, the office temperature, if cold water is available, if the uniform is fit for purpose, and so on.
How we can help
For more information, please download this free guide on how to support employees going through the menopause.
As well as this, our HR & Employment Law and Health & Safety experts are available 24/7 to our clients to talk through the measures they can be taking to address menopause in the workplace.
If you’re an existing client of ours, please call 0345 844 4848. If you’re not already a client of ours, please call 0345 844 1111 to find out more.
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