supporting employees during the menopause

Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace but ¼ of those experiencing the menopause will face debilitating symptoms such as hot flushes, difficulty sleeping and anxiety; all of which can impact their ability to work as usual. 6 in 10 menopausal women say their symptoms have had a negative impact on their work, and for some it can prevent them from working at all; resulting in job loss and depression.

As a managers, employer, or HR professional, it’s your responsibility to prioritise your talent’s workplace wellbeing and offer reasonable adjustments to support employees experiencing the menopause.

With October 18th marking World Menopause Day, we’re taking this opportunity to share some expert workplace wellness tips on how to make your workplace the most supportive place possible for your employees going through pre menopause or the menopause.

 

Educate yourself briefly on the menopause

Understanding the menopause can help you feel prepared and confident to support employees who require your support. The menopause typically starts between the ages of 45 and 55. A woman’s oestrogen levels drop during the menopause, and she stops having periods. Hormonal changes during the perimenopause, the period before the menopause, can result in several physical and psychological symptoms. While some women only experience minor changes, others may find it hard to cope. The perimenopause can last for several years, affecting a woman’s performance and attendance at work. Although everyone experiences the menopause differently, common symptoms include frequent urination, body aches, hot flushes, difficulty sleeping, increased anxiety and poor concentration or memory problems. It’s also important to remember that the menopause can affect transgender, non-binary and intersex employees.

 

Encourage open and honest conversations

Almost half of employees who require a day off from work due to the menopause said they wouldn’t tell their employer the real reason. Despite menopause being a natural stage of life, it continues to be a ‘taboo’ topic. You can help break the stigma and give employees the confidence to share their concerns or ask for support by reminding them that they can come to you if they have any concerns during regular one to one meetings. Printing and sharing resources or posters around the office on the topic of the menopause creates a supportive and judgement free environment. Even just reminding employees during your next regular team meeting who they can speak to if they require accommodations to support them during the menopause, can encourage conversations.

 

Implement reasonable adjustments

No one employee will experience the menopause the same, so it’s important to have a one to one conversation with an employee to see what individual accommodations you can offer to support them during the menopause. Some adjustments include,

  • Offering a desk fan or desk near a window
  • Adjusting air conditioning or heating
  • Changes to the uniform such as less layers or wearing more breathable material
  • More frequent toilet breaks or easier access to a toilet
  • A quiet place if they need to take a break
  • Time off to visit healthcare professionals or when dealing with a flare up
  • Regular breaks to prevent aches and pains from sitting too long
  • Comfortable desk and working area to prevent muscle aches
  • The option to adjust working hours or work from home on some days or during a flare up

It may be a good idea to suggest some of these adjustments to your employee if they mention that they are struggling with the menopause, but they may have their own suggestions which are more beneficial to them. Listening and asking questions is the best way to learn how to best support your employee.

 

Have regular catch ups

Once reasonable adjustments are implemented it’s important to frequently check in with your employee to see how they are coping at work. If you notice a decrease in their performance, it’s important to kindly check in and ask how they’re doing and if there’s any additional ways you can support them. By being understanding and accommodating your employees throughout the menopause, you’re creating a positive, productive, and happy atmosphere and environment so your employees can thrive and make the most of their talent. If you’re concerned about your employee’s wellbeing, signposting them to additional support is always a safe bet. Our app offers workshops on managing pre menopause and the menopause, so your employees know how to manage their symptoms (find out more about our services here); alternatively encouraging your employee to book an appointment with the gp to discuss their worries surrounding the menopause can help if their symptoms are interfering with their day-to-day life.

If you’d like support with your employee’s wellbeing, contacting us now at hello@optimewellbeing to book a free demo.

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