The UK has recently launched a new workplace standard to support employees experiencing menopause or menstruation.
BS 30416 aims to support the health and well-being of all employees who menstruate or experience peri/menopause. Susan Grayson, founder of Younique Inclusion, highlights the significant benefits that creating a more supportive work environment brings, not only for employees but also organisations themselves.
"Research from the Fawcett Society found that “about 10 per cent of women experiencing menopause have left the workplace due to symptoms such as hot flushes, dizziness, insomnia, and muscle and joint stiffness, with the figure rising to 25 per cent for those with more severe symptoms".
Now, more than ever, attracting and retaining talent means that employers must focus on health and well-being. Menopause is a natural biological process experienced by women** typically in their late 40s or early 50s, with the average age of menopause in the UK being 51. However, it remains a topic that is often stigmatised and overlooked in workplaces.
The 2022 Fawcet Society report found that eight out of ten women say their employer hasn’t shared information, trained staff, or put in place a menopause absence policy. In this article, we will focus on the importance of creating menopause-friendly workplaces and the benefits that can be reaped by employers who take proactive measures in supporting their menopausal employees.
Peri*/Menopause can lead to sickness absence, mental health issues, low self-esteem, lack of confidence, presenteeism, and increased anxiety levels at work. This can have a negative impact on individuals, and workplaces, often leading to the loss of experienced employees who add value to the company as well as the financial implications of sickness absence, employee tribunals, staff recruitment, and the training of new staff.
Breaking the Silence:
Menopause is often shrouded in silence due to the associated stereotypes and misconceptions. This silence perpetuates a lack of understanding, empathy, and support in the workplace. Employers have a crucial role to play in breaking this silence and fostering an open dialogue about menopause. By actively addressing the topic, employers can create an environment that allows women to feel comfortable discussing symptoms, concerns, and potential workplace adjustments, and that should not be limited to the provision of a fan! All genders benefit from increased awareness and understanding of this important topic, enabling them to be more supportive of family members, friends experiencing Menopause symptoms.
So, what are the symptoms?
When asked what the typical symptoms of the menopause are – people often struggle to come up with more than 2 or 3 symptoms. In reality there are numerous symptoms attributable to the menopause. Here are some examples:
- Hot flashes
- Brain fog
- Night sweats
- Mood changes
- Weight gain and slowed metabolism
- Thinning hair and dry skin
- Sleep problems
- Aches and pains
- Bone loss
- Cardiovascular issues
This list feels like a lot to deal with – then consider that some will experience a few or all of these symptoms over a period of many years – you can see why menopause can have a significant impact on being able to show up at work and navigate the career ladder! Often women dealing with menopause are also juggling family life, helping to care for teenagers and ageing parents.
Retaining Experienced Talent
Individuals experiencing Menopause symptoms often face significant challenges that can impact their productivity and overall job satisfaction. While the majority of people have more access to medical advice and an increasing number of health organisations providing support in person and online, it doesn’t end at the office door. Unfortunately, without proper support and understanding, these symptoms can result in absenteeism, reduced work performance, and even premature exits from the workforce. Employers who adapt their policies and practices to accommodate menopausal employees and send a clear message that they value their experience and want to retain their talent.
"Treating menopause as a legitimate health concern and accommodating its symptoms signifies a commitment to gender equality within the workplace. It ensures that female employees can continue their careers without feeling compromised or limited due to a natural process that is beyond their control."
Creating a Supportive Work Environment:
A menopause-friendly workplace does not have to involve complex or costly changes.
Simple adjustments such as providing access to fans or adjusting office temperatures can significantly alleviate the discomfort caused by hot flashes.
Flexible work schedules and the option to take breaks when needed can help manage symptoms like fatigue and cognitive fog.
Offering access to Menopause Training for individuals and managers
Facilitated Menopause support groups and a Menopause Coach creates a supportive, informed and inclusive working environment.
Access to counselling services or employee assistance programs can provide emotional support and promote mental well-being.
These accommodations not only benefit menopausal employees but also contribute to an overall positive work environment for all staff members.
Promoting Gender Equality:
Menopause is a unique physiological process experienced by biological women and each experience will be very different. Many others also experience menopause symptoms such as transgender individuals, cancer patients and those who go through surgery which results in an enforced menopause. By failing to acknowledge its impact on overall health and well-being, employers risk contributing to gender-based discrimination.
As we strive towards fostering workplaces that prioritise inclusivity and well-being, recognising and addressing menopause is a significant step forward. Employers who embrace menopause-friendly practices enhance their reputation as empathetic and forward-thinking organisations.
With some simple steps, such as having the right policies in place, the provision of adjustments, creation of an informed and inclusive working environment, these consequences can be avoided. Small investments, effective workplace guidelines, and inclusive communication will help employees feel more engaged and supported, in turn enabling employers to foster a workplace where employees feel valued, motivated while also saving both time and money. It's time to break the silence and embrace menopause in the workplace – the rewards far outweigh the cost of providing Menopause support, training and adjustments.
If you would like to find out more about Menopause Training, Workshops and coaching services, contact Susan Grayson at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Peri-menopause occurs when hormone levels begin to change and fluctuate causing irregular periods and bleeding. Menopause is when periods have stopped for a period of 12 months.
**For the purpose of this article the use of the word women refers to biological women experiencing peri/menopause symptoms. It should also be acknowledged that a larger group of society can experience these symptoms for many different reasons such as those who are transgender, cancer patients and surgically enforced peri/menopause.