MENOPAUSE IN THE WORKPLACE
WHO ARE WE TALKING TO?
WHAT’S OUR APPROACH?
THE LAST WORKPLACE TABOO?
In a 2018 TV programme “The Truth about The Menopause” Mariella Fostrup asked people on the street the first word that came to mind when she said “menopause”. Apart from the responses being mostly negative, there was a sense of embarrassment, shame and secrecy; it seems the word menopause is the equivalent of mentioning Voldemort in Harry Potter.
The menopause happens to all women; around 13 million women here in the UK, and it’s estimated that 8/10 menopausal women are in work.
The average age for reaching the menopause is 51 and it’s thought that the perimenopause (where many of the symptoms can begin) can last for 10 years before a woman is officially deemed to be menopausal. Symptoms vary but all can contribute to psychological issues including anxiety, loss of confidence, loss of motivation that can have a major effect on women’s performance at work, especially if it is overlooked or if there are no menopause workplace guidelines in place.
The latest ONS figures (2015) show 4.3m women aged 50+ are in employment, this age group represents a significant driver in the growth of women in employment overall over the last 30 years and will continue to grow due to the rise in pension age, financial need and an ageing population.
MANAGING MENOPAUSE IN THE WORKPLACE
Many women in their 50s feel overlooked, underutilised and that they don’t ‘fit-in”, which can lead to them wanting part-time work, relinquishing responsibility or leaving the workplace altogether (1 in 4 women consider leaving their job due to symptoms of the menopause and struggling at work).
We know first hand how tough this period can be, our belief is this is exacerbated by the lack of information, knowledge and the persisting taboo around it.
Our approach often starts with an audit of the number of female employees within the age range and a confidential survey of how these women are affected by the menopause. It’s important to understand that many women feel uncomfortable discussing the “M” word particularly if their line manager is male and possibly younger than them. (In our experience we didn’t even want to admit our age!) Education and awareness programmes are often an appropriate way to start a dialogue and to introduce a menopause workplace policy.
- Education and awareness on the menopause
- Recommendations for changes in culture and working practices, outlining the menopause policy
- Setting up internal support groups
- Transition coaching for those struggling at work
- Mid-career MOT
- Confidence workshops
- Resilience workshops
Whether you are struggling in the workplace or notice women who are, together we can improve this with the recognition and consideration of menopause in the workplace.