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Managing Menopause in the Workplace

Wellness | 5-minute read

Posted on: Thursday October 05, 2023

by Sarah Wootton, Inbound Marketing Manager B2B

Did you know that menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the UK’s workforce* – yet are a group that feel widely under-supported - and 1 in 5 women reduced their hours because of menopause symptoms, with 12% resigning altogether**? However your workforce is made up, there are things HRDs can do today that will massively help this demographic and the wider team.

As a 50-year-old (youngish) woman, I love marketing and scarily, have decades of experience under my belt with significant skills across dozens of disciplines as well as managerial and pastoral responsibilities. I have a jam-packed working schedule and I enjoy my career very much. I had my children later in life (at 40 and 42 years old), so home is hectic with kids' clubs, homework, school runs and PTA all thrown into the mix. I am lucky to still have two parents close to reaching their 80s, who live 2 hours away, so I can often be found inching along the M25 for hospital appointments and trips to the south coast for visits or home help.

Sounds hectic? Yes, it is. But probably, like everyone else, no more hectic than the average working mum.

I’m also dealing with menopause or to be precise, perimenopause. I can tell you now, for me, it’s no walk in the park. The hot flushes and lack of sleep are definitely not easy, but there are so many other symptoms I really had no idea about in my twenties, thirties and forties that have the biggest impact. Unknown and unseen symptoms that women face every day and are not talked about.

Largely these challenges fall under the mental wellbeing banner and fortunately, in 2023, there’s increasingly more awareness of what a large part of the workforce faces on a daily basis. Crushing anxiety, feeling overwhelmed by the tiniest mistake and stress beyond any I’ve ever known.

As we acknowledge Menopause Awareness Day (18th October), it’s something I wanted to talk about in order to give HR Departments reassurance, as well as tips to help both the business, the women facing these challenges, and the people around them, ahead of the day.

Many people – male and female - will relate to this as they will likely know someone who is going through it or will face it soon. If you are going through it like me, it’s things like being in a meeting and losing the thread of thought so that your presentation feels limp and loses impact.

Imagine presenting on stage at an event and having the expectation of 150 people looking to you for answers as thought-leaders in your profession. Not fun at all…

As a perimenopausal woman, I’ve sat in meetings and the brain fog has been so ridiculous that I couldn’t remember the word for a pen. A PEN!! Other times, I’ve had a packed conference room presenting to a large team of people where I honestly, couldn’t remember a thing from my carefully prepared deck I’d spent hours over. It’s embarrassing, overwhelming, and a very real emotional and physical challenge. It has been for me and will be for millions of others - yet women face this every day.

There are so many workplaces that still don’t understand the challenges and therefore don’t know how to support their teams so here are just a few tips to give HRDs some advice to support this growing demographic.

What can businesses do to support women facing the menopause in the workplace?

Menopause support at work:

  • Flexible working – an understanding that some days might be more challenging than others so providing time off to manage symptoms and GP appointments is vital.
  • Provision of hygiene and sanitary products in a "care basket" in the female toilets and access to pain medication such as Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.
  • Encouraging an open work environment – provide workshops or suggest a menopause coffee morning to ensure women feel included and supported.
  • Digital Health Services – there is a supply issue of HRT and so getting medication or other therapies let alone a GP appointment is challenging – access to an OnDemand GP could be crucial to helping reduce the mental and physical symptoms.
  • Encourage conversations with your peers and team members so if there are challenging presentations thanks to brain fog, they can jump in and help – it doesn’t need to be a taboo topic.

The advantages offered by your business can play a crucial role in raising awareness among your workforce about symptoms. Whether it's through office posters or workshops, these initiatives can communicate that experiencing such symptoms is common and a natural part of life. Offering support is a massive step in the correct direction, benefiting everyone involved.

If you would like to find out more about: Physical Wellbeing | Mental Wellbeing | Financial Wellbeing | Social Wellbeing – we can provide a no-obligation advice from one of our experts.

*Menopause factfile | Local Government Association

**Menopause forces women to leave their jobs or pass up promotions, study finds | UK News | Sky News


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