For something that affects 51% of the population at some point in their life, it’s remarkable that the menopause is still a taboo subject in some workplaces. This month marks World Menopause Month, so we thought it was an ideal time to raise awareness of the options to support the health and wellbeing of women in mid-life.
Menopause usually happens between the ages of 45 and 55, which means it is occurring when women are approaching the peak of their careers. It is a time when they have significant experience and expertise and are successful and productive.
Alarmingly, a survey carried out by the health charity ‘Wellbeing of Women’ found that menopausal symptoms can lead to women leaving their jobs. According to the results, one in four consider it. That’s disappointing news for them, and their employer.
On top of this, it’s no secret that Guernsey has an ageing population. There will be progressively fewer new entrants from education joining the workforce. The sum of this means that companies need to look after their middle-aged and older talent.
The good news is that there are a lot of simple things that companies can do to help. Our experience is that many organisations already have more elements of support in place than they might think. Sometimes all that’s needed is a few tweaks and a linking of elements together. Most employers nowadays already allow their workers time off to visit their GP.
The most important thing is to normalise conversations about the menopause, staff should feel they can approach their line managers for support. Managers don’t need to be medical experts, but a supportive conversation goes a long way.
Here’s a breakdown of three main menopause symptoms, and what employers can do:
Menopausal women could be allowed to move to a cooler part of the office and ask for a desk fan. If there is company uniform, it should be available in a breathable fabric.
Consider offering flexible working such as changing working patterns or working from home. Review workloads if people are working long hours.
Open plan offices can be difficult to concentrate in at the best of times. Try to design different types of working space, including quiet space for focused work. Include options to take breaks and have areas where people can relax. Better use of technology can help people who are trying to juggle lots of tasks.
It’s important to flag up that unless an employee mentions the menopause directly, it’s not appropriate to suggest that someone is experiencing symptoms. There is a lot that employees can do to help themselves. Doctors recommend lifestyle changes such as taking time to exercise, and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
There are clear, compelling reasons for supporting menopausal women in the workplace. Adjustments are usually straightforward and simple to implement, especially compared to the consequences of doing nothing.