During menopause, approximately 1 in 10 women resign from their careers due to its direct impact. Many others opt to forgo promotions due to overwhelming anxiety and diminished confidence, while some choose to step down, accept demotions, and pass up on various opportunities.
That’s a career that’s been worked at for decades being left behind needlessly. A pension pot no longer growing with employee and employer contributions. Bonuses, wage rises, career progression… no longer on the horizon. This isn’t just resigning from a job, this is leaving behind a pathway, a career cared about and a financial impact greater than we know.
For the company, the costs can be even larger when we acknowledge that although menopause is not a protected characteristic on its own; it is within the Equality Act 2010 – under age, sex and disability discrimination. Coupled with the Health and Safety at work Act 1974 which extends to the working environment when experiencing menopausal symptoms, companies must do more or risk costly tribunal cases. Many menopausal tribunal cases have been successful and the claimant awarded tens of thousands of pounds as a result of discrimination, bullying and harassment claims.
Menopause might be a natural stage in a woman’s life, but it can bring about physical, emotional, and psychological changes that can impact both personal and professional lives.
Despite its significance, menopause remains a topic that is often overlooked or stigmatised in workplace conversations. This isn’t an older woman’s time of life, it happens at any age, some women in their teens, others in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
The lack of acknowledgment not only perpetuates misconceptions but also leaves many female employees feeling unsupported, undervalued, and isolated.
By fostering a menopause friendly workplace, companies not only showcase their commitment to diversity and employee well-being, but also tap into a reserve of experience, wisdom, and resilience that can drive organisational success to new levels.
Let’s address 10 ways you can break barriers and unlock the full potential of female employees during menopause!
One: Understanding from Top Down
It is crucial to pay attention to the unique needs of female employees in menopause. By understanding and supporting their unique journey, businesses and companies can create a more inclusive environment and unlock the untapped potential of these valuable team members.
By educating your SLT – Senior Leadership Team – on what the menopause is and how they actually have a key role to play, you can foster a workplace that helps your female workforce to thrive and create a better place to work. Women are now making career choices with this as a non negotiable for themselves to ensure their health & well-being is accounted for. This not only retains current people, but attracts into your organisation as an ‘employer of choice’.
Drive the conversation and supportive undertone from your top down.
Two: Menopause Support Initiatives
Flexible Working Arrangements being one. While Acas has introduced new codes of practice surrounding flexible working, by offering flexible work options, such as remote working, flexible hours, or job-sharing, allows menopausal women to manage their symptoms and maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Not every symptom is constant. Some days there may be barely any struggle in the day, other days she simply may not be able to get out of bed. Having flexibility in the workplace for a later start, earlier finish, flexible working patterns for example supports incredibly. In turn, boosts overall satisfaction, productivity, and loyalty to the company.
Three : Raise Awareness Companywide
Implementing workshops and Lunch & Learn sessions to educate all employees about menopause, breaks the stigma and fosters empathy and understanding. It empowers everyone in the workplace to be more supportive and inclusive during this transitional period.
It’s not only the female workforce that benefits from this approach, but male employees as well. Menopause doesn’t just impact females, it impacts every one of us at some point to some degree. Never underestimate the power of removing shame in the conversation.
In fact, many companies are now investing in enhancing their in-house menopause support by training their own Menopause Support Coaches 2 so everyone has a certified and knowledgeable person in the workplace to seek support from.
Four: Wellness Programs
Introducing wellness programs that focus on physical and mental health can significantly improve menopausal women’s well-being. This isn’t menopause specific but rather health specific. Yoga classes, mindfulness sessions, and access to mental health resources can alleviate stress and create a positive work environment. Encouraging ‘Wellness Moments’ where employees are encouraged to e.g. take a 10 minute walk in the fresh air, to take 3-5 deep breaths to calm their central nervous system, to stop for lunch rather than work through back to back…
Five: Open Dialogue and Support Networks
Encouraging open conversations about menopause normalises the topic and allows women to seek support from their colleagues. Having thought provoking posters, dedicating time and energy into Menopause Awareness month (October) and even establishing peer support networks or Employee Resource Groups specifically for menopause can be immensely beneficial. This can significantly add a lot of value.
Six: Assess Needs and Spearhead Change
Conduct a Needs Assessment. Begin by evaluating the current state of menopause support within your company. Gather feedback from female employees to understand their challenges and requirements during this stage. Something as simple as asking what the main challenges are can inform the action taken.
How do you truly know what is wanted and needed if you don’t ask.
Seven: More Than Just A Policy
Having the BSI 30416 Menstruation, Menstrual Health and Menopause in The Workplace Guide is helpful, but having your own policy written from a meaningful and purposeful Menopause Support focus, is so powerful.
Create a comprehensive policy that outlines the company’s commitment to supporting menopausal employees. Not wanting to go down the long process of policy, that’s absolutely fine, but make sure you at least have a policy statement. Ensure it includes a note to flexible work arrangements (reference it back to your People or HR team if needed), outlines wellness programs, and educational initiatives.
Eight: Embed well-being
Design and embed a Well-being Program that considers collaborations with wellness experts to design programs that cater to the physical and mental health needs of menopausal women. Offer resources that promote the fundamentals of menopause care, from the proven Reclamation FormulaTM which builds resilience through Nutrition, Lifestyle and Mind practices using positive psychology fundamentals.
These are the foundations that support everything!
Nine: Establish Support Networks
Encourage the formation of Employee Resource Groups or support networks specifically for menopause. These platforms provide a safe space for women to share their experiences and seek guidance from peers experiencing the same or similar.
Ten: Monitor and Adapt
Regularly assess the impact of your initiatives and gather feedback from employees. Be open to making adjustments based on their needs and preferences, these may change and adapt over time so having a champion or in-house Menopause Support Coach can truly enhance your entire program.
Now that we’ve covered these 10 ways to enhance menopause care in the workplace, you should have some direction to get started.