The world is witnessing an aging population and fewer entrants from education within workplaces. As an employer, it is important to look after your demographic of older workers to operate successfully and in doing so you must support menopause in the workplace.
Menopause is a natural process for all women aged between 45-55 (in some cases, earlier) however due to this reason, symptoms can be unrecognised, undervalued, and oftentimes not taken seriously. Whilst physical symptoms do exist and can sometimes impede women whilst at work, however, the physiological symptoms associated with menopause are far greater, these can include loss of self-confidence, low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.
The Scale of The Issue
Currently, 3.5 million women aged over 50 are employed in the UK, and whilst this number is likely to increase more women are likely to experience an increase in the occupational aspects of menopausal symptoms that affect both their home and work life.
Symptoms vary between women, with around 25% of women suffering with the worst symptoms. Not only does this impact the individual, it also impacts their colleagues around them.
As a stigmatised issue within society, many women still do not feel comfortable talking about their symptoms – and do not turn for the help they need. Furthermore, lack of knowledge and unrecognised symptoms makes it harder for women to talk openly about it.
Around half of women experience difficulties in work during the time of their menopause, resulting in poor concentration, memory loss, depression, feeling low, reduced motivation, sleepiness and hot flushes. With around 10% of women stopping work altogether.
The Effect Of Menopause At Work
Studies present that menopause symptoms can have a knock-on effect on attendance and performance at work. Due to this, women result in feeling less engaged with their work, become less committed, and are more likely to resign.
With very little knowledge and education on the symptoms around menopause, women are often misdiagnosed with mental health issues or can wrongly be identified as performance issues.
Here, we look at the ways in which you as an employer can support menopause in the workplace.
Work is Beneficial to Menopausal Women
Society may lead us to believe that whilst a woman is experiencing menopause she would prefer not to work, however working provides menopausal women with many benefits. Not only does it provide fulfillment and social needs, it also boosts self-esteem and gives women a sense of identity.
What Can An Employer Do To Help?
The Government Equalities Report on Menopause highlights the need for employers to put in place training, processes and information so all colleagues have a clear understanding of menopause. Any marketing or messages should be well publicised and written down clearly for all employees to access.
Remember, line managers don’t need to be medical experts in order to help. A good level of knowledge and understanding can offer the help your business needs. To facilitate discussions surrounding support, you could introduce training to increase awareness and the potential effects this has on women, and their colleagues. There is a good chance your business already has options to support such matters but may require some tweaks and refinements for individuals to get the right support.
Many businesses still do not recognise some women are of menopausal age and therefore require additional support and specific considerations as a holistic approach by their employer.
Recommendations to help women experiencing menopausal symptoms include, adapting room temperatures or supplying desk fans, allowing time off for GP visits as well as offering the space to talk about the effect of their symptoms at work with their line manager.
Support can also be done through an occupational health service and talking to other colleagues. The more information and guidance women are given surrounding this natural process the better-informed decision they can make regarding the management of their symptoms, whether medicinally or holistically.
How Does This Benefit My Business?
Taking care of the well being of your staff is a great benefit to you and your business. Guiding women through menopause comes with financial benefits. It is believed the cost of recruitment to replace a woman on £30,000 salary in the UK is £25,000.
Not only does it keep recruitment costs down, employers see a reduction in the absence in mature women. Offering support during menopause in the workplace is good for retention, motivation and loyalty.
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