Employers are facing increased calls to address the impact that Perimenopause and Menopause is having on employees and workplace culture. The noise around menopause at work is getting louder and you can expect the drumbeat to continue in 2024. With women over the age of 50 the fastest growing demographic of the UK workforce – it’s a subject that can no longer be ignored. Women are using their voices and are asking their employers to step into this conversation.
While there are 13 million women in menopause in the country right now, only 14% are receiving the support and medication they need. That represents a vast number of individuals showing up to work each day, carrying the weight and impact of symptoms while going largely unheard and unsupported. More evidence is required to fully understand the impact this is having in the workplace.
For 1 in 10 women, it’s their career that pays the price with them quitting work. The long-term impact on businesses goes beyond just the high recruitment spend required to replace this talent. Leaving with these women are years of skills, wisdom, experience, and diverse thinking – all of which are impossible to put a price on and do nothing to support gender diversity targets.
The most progressive employers have identified that box ticking exercises once a year are not going to cut through with staff. Their people see through this and expect more from their employers.
Many will start with a Menopause Policy – a formal outline of an organisations commitment and action to individuals experiencing menopause. Policy is an essential element to the foundation laying of good menopause culture change. But much like menopause itself – it won’t be a one size fits all. A commitment to education, support packages, guides, resources, and benefits are all needed layers of work. But it’s the more individualised needs that often presents the greatest challenge to leadership, HR, and managers.
EXPLORING THE REALITY THROUGH AN EXECUTIVE COACHING LENS
Women need a space to be heard and supported in their careers during this time and specialist Executive Coaching satisfies this need while offering an individualised approach.
Graduate schemes to succession planning and returning from maternity leave are some examples where coaches are contracted. The more we normalise the conversation about menopause, the more we will see an increased demand for these specialist services. The opportunity it provides to conduct deeper exploration to move forward in a scenario can be an immersive and empowering environment.
More recognition needs to be given to Executive Coaching for perimenopause and menopause as it offers trust and confidentiality to explore the reality at work while unlocking a way to take action that many managers are ill-equipped to undertake.
Providing a deeper, more individualised approach satisfies the business need to offer support but also adds safety to an individual fearing stigma, stereotype, and embarrassment internally.
The value in an Executive Coach also comes from them not offering advice, opinion or instruction. It’s totally in service of the client and their needs delivered through creative interventions, thoughtful questioning, and active listening. At times, it supports you to confront issues some may find difficult or are avoiding. It presents challenge and holds accountability while deepening self-awareness.
Menopause hits at time when many professional women are in senior roles or pushing into the next phase of their working lives. Their list of responsibilities is bigger than ever with families, relationships, and caring roles undertaken away from the workplace. This is also why creating a space like this is so valuable to all involved in coaching. It supports the need for increased self-compassion at this time of a woman’s life and helps to action change to support wellbeing, self-care and health.
For organisations, it is a tool to help retention, boost performance and productivity – also far less disruptive than costly recruitment processes to replace lost talent.
AN UNDERSERVED DEMOGRAPHIC
The increased awareness about menopause in recent years has gone some way towards breaking down stigma associated with this time in a women’s life cycle. The reality is that this is not simply about women in their fifties who are hot and angry.
An often overlooked an underserved demographic are women in their mid to late thirties, some of whom have very young children at home and begin experiencing perimenopause.
Since 1990, there has been an increase in mothers having children later in life. In 2022, there were 207,000 women aged between 30 and 34 who gave birth. And for the next age bracket of 35 to 39 – 121,000 women had children that year.
The medical average for Perimenopause beginning is between the age 40 to 45 years but in many cases, it can start earlier than that and education is much needed.
When perimenopause hits with young children there can be a huge number of triggers that can exacerbate symptoms. We hear a lot about menopausal women navigating adolescent teenage hormones alongside their own hormonal battles. Then there’s the emotional triggers of an empty nest. At the opposite end of the spectrum are perimenopausal women dealing with toddler tantrums, potty training and early years education alongside their own symptoms.
The impact of all this undoubtedly gets carried into their professional lives and performance at work. It increases stress, imposter syndrome, compromises boundaries and leads to burnout.
Research conducted by Newson Health found almost half of women reported taking time off due to menopause or perimenopausal symptoms. Of the 37% of women provided with a sickness certificate from their doctor, 52% listed anxiety or stress as the cause.
Addressing these often complex issues can be at overwhelming task for workplaces beginning this journey. Seeking the support of specialist consultants and coaches who can support robust planning, education and strategy will have a greater impact longer-term.
A COMMITMENT TO STRATEGY
Work in this space requires investment and commitment. We are not talking about a niche area or a small population of the country’s workforce. More women than ever before will experience perimenopause and menopause during their professional lives and organisations will be deeply impacted if they do not engage the right people to support them transform their culture for menopause.
- Office of National Statistics (ONS), 2022: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/livebirths/datasets/birthsummarytables
- The Fawcett Society, 2022:
- Newson Health Research: Menopause at Work survey. Rebecca Lewis & Louise Newson (2021)
Anna Allerton is the founder of Allerton Consulting and a leading Perimenopause and Menopause Business Consultant and Executive Coach. Anna specialises in supporting women to maintain their careers during their Perimenopause and Menopause years while driving institutional workplace change. Using her own first-hand experience, Anna is giving women the tools they need to take control of their own health, to feel better, take action and succeed at work at the same time.