Menopause – Supporting the Workforce
Monday the 18th of October is World Menopause Day and menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. Many of these women may be struggling to manage the psychological and physiological changes their bodies are going through and so, whilst this stage of life is now being discussed, what practical steps can HR make to support their employees?
Many women suffer from debilitating symptoms, ranging from decrease in concentration, increased stress, and loss of patience with colleagues and clients. This in turn is forcing experienced middle-aged women to leave the workforce in droves, women who are likely to be at the top of their game, but without the right support, at the right time, are unable to reach their full potential for businesses to reap the benefits from.
Not only that, organisations are recognising the fact that diversity matters to business performance and the need to promote women to senior level positions, but individuals and organisations are being held back by menopause, a predictable life change that remains largely unaddressed within the workplace, assuming it’s even spoken about at all. That being said, it’s not really a surprise that menopause isn’t openly talked about in the workplace; symptoms are personal and sometimes embarrassing and so it’s important to establish what changes can be made to ensure that menopause is discussed openly, understood and effective support is provided.
Firstly, and most importantly, businesses should be able to recognise when support is needed and facilitate open conversations with employees about what they’re experiencing. Menopause shouldn’t be a taboo, and everyone should feel confident to have a conversation with their line manager, especially when they need guidance and advice. Menopause is not just a women’s issue – it will impact men in their work and personal lives, albeit indirectly and so it’s important to also direct and develop specific resources aimed at male employees to ensure everyone can be included in the conversation.
In addition, updating policies to reflect menopause to support those who may require sickness and flexible working policies to take into account symptoms such as night sweats and insomnia. Companies must be flexible to their teams’ needs to make sure they’re performing to a high standard and getting the best productivity and engagement from them. Offerings such as virtual GP services and mental health helplines are incredibly valuable for women as they can access them any time from any location to get support on a range of symptoms they’re experiencing.
These are just some examples showing that enhanced menopause support will in turn allow organisations to hold onto talented female employees and show potential future employees that yours is an organisation that is forward-thinking, truly understands the needs of its people throughout their careers, and is taking action to make a real difference.