Menopause affects women of all ages and is currently responsible for a huge loss of talent in the workplace. Many do not realise they are in perimenopause or menopause and put symptoms down to stress, tiredness and general life. They also try and deal with their symptoms alone and carry on with their normal life as best they can, hoping things will ‘run their course’.
However, there are effective and safe treatments that can have a huge impact on how you feel and help you manage your symptoms in the workplace. Brain fog is a common symptom and couple that with tiredness and anxiety, hot flushes and the need to pee more frequently and more urgently can lead to low confidence and low self-esteem in all areas of menopause sufferers’ lives.
Most importantly, employers need to start recognising and supporting women who are trying to manage their symptoms.
The Impact of Menopause
Crippling menopause symptoms and a lack of support from employers are ruining women’s careers, with many being forced to take time off work or even leave their jobs altogether.
Recent research showed that 99% of women found that their perimenopause/menopause had a negative impact on their work, 59% had taken time off work due to their symptoms, and 18% had taken more than 8 weeks off work.
Frustratingly 59% of their workplaces offered no support.
This is something that needs to change and organisations need to review their policies and processes and the support they give to their employees to allow menopause to become a part of everyday conversations in the workplace.
Having a robust menopause policy and providing training for HR and Occupational Health staff is something that all employers should look at so they are able to signpost individuals to places where they can get advice and information about effective treatments.
Changing Workplace Culture
Workplace cultures need to change too. Being discriminated against, bullied or someone’s hot flushes being made the subject of the office joke may seem like workplace banter, but to the person suffering from menopausal symptoms, it really isn’t funny. Feeling confident to be able to talk to their line managers or the HR team about how they are feeling and the impact their symptoms are having is crucial to ensure talented individuals aren’t lost from the workplace; that performance and productivity concerns are addressed with understanding and support.
It is important not to make assumptions but to have open conversations and work out the best course of action for each individual as symptoms and their effects can vary greatly. As an employer, you are responsible for your employee’s health and safety at work and to make supportive and reasonable adjustments to help them continue in their job role.
You’ll find free help and NHS information on menopause at https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause
and the Balance website has a library of free resources and information including advice for employers and an example of a menopause policy https://www.balance-menopause.com/balance-for-corporates
Davina McCall, Sex, Myths and the Menopause – Davina tells her menopause story, busting midlife taboos and assumptions about hormone treatment.