World Menopause Day has arrived with the goal to shed light on support options available for women going through this natural process. With this in mind, new research from digital health app Peppy indicates that close to two thirds of employers in the UK mistake the average age of menopause. Considering roughly 15.7 million women are now part of the UK workforce, the necessity for enlightenment and mass re-education is paramount.
World Menopause Day is universally celebrated on the 18th October, with the whole of October acting as Menopause awareness month. Having an ever-growing number of women in the workplace, identifying the basics of menopause will allow employers to better support a larger percentage of their staff.
In the UK, the average age for women to reach menopause is 51. More broadly speaking, perimenopause and menopause usually occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 as a woman’s oestrogen levels drop. Despite this, research collected in January 2022 has yielded the following results:
- 58% of employers believe menopause occurs under the age of 45.
- 5% believe it occurs from the age of 56 onwards.
- 37% correctly said between the age of 45 and 55.
There appears a significant knowledge gap concerning a biological transition that affects half of the UK population. Addressing this fact, however, Kathy Abernethy, Director of Menopause Services (Peppy), emphasises that employers do not need to be an expert in all things menopause, but a basic level of understanding is a great start. In turn, this will allow employers to support staff in the workplace should they need it. Abernethy goes onto explain why this is so important:
There are very specific challenges that can be associated with the menopause, and these challenges need to be met with specialist support. These findings highlight just how much education is needed on the basics before we can expect employers to appreciate the depth and breadth of the issue and how to support those that need it.
Employers need to be doing all they can do improve the working lives of those affected by menopause. It’s not just in the interest of individual members of staff, the positive impact of menopause support can be felt right across an organisation, including the recruitment and retention of key demographics of staff.
Kathy Abernethy, Director of Menopause Services
This being said, the petition for greater understanding of the menopause has certainly been recognised, in which research conducted in September 2022 indicated over half (55%) of employers have seen demand for menopause support increase in the past two years. The research was conducted amongst 504 HR decision-makers who concluded the same is true over a five-year period, with nearly two-thirds (63%) of employers seeing this increased appetite for employer-sponsored menopause support.
The September 2022 study collected similarly positive results, suggesting that from offering menopause support, employers expect to improve areas of the business such as recruitment and retention. Of those employers who offer support, nine out of ten (89%) anticipate the organisation to be more attractive to jobseekers of menopausal age, and a similar amount (88%) expect to be better able to retain staff of menopausal age.
Offering menopausal support is becoming so beneficial simply because businesses who don’t offer the necessary provisions are notably affected. Some troubling results conveyed that 38% of employers say that staff have left their organisation due to menopause symptoms, and 64% of HRs say that their organisation had experienced staff taking time off sick because of menopause-related symptoms. It is therefore in the interest of businesses to make the necessary adjustments to increase the chances of retraining valued members of staff.
Unfortunately, despite the pressure from employees wanting menopause support, and employers’ understanding of its positive impact, Peppy’s research shows that over a third (36%) of employers feel that they are currently behind the curve. This breaks down as:
- 17% of HR leaders thought that their organisation was a ‘little’ bit behind others in terms of the support they offer.
- 6% believe that they are ‘way behind’ others.
- 13% said that menopause support was not on their radar or something they are particularly interested in offering at present.
Yet, with rising awareness, such as World Menopause Day, these statistics are looking to gradually improve. Employees benefit from a wide range of support, with areas such as enhanced information, staff training and in-person support groups set for the biggest growth in the next twelve months. It’s vital employers ensure what they offer makes a real difference and gives employees the dedicated support they need from experts to really get on top of some debilitating symptoms. Kathy Abernethy comments:
There are clear benefits of providing menopause support for employers and their employees, as well as very real ramifications of not doing so. Menopause support is not a trending employee benefit or a fad that will disappear next year. There are over 15m women in employment and nearly a third of those are over 50, so employers need to recognise their needs. Menopause needs to be treated in the same way as any other specialist support needed within the workplace – especially if employers are serious about recruiting, retaining and promoting this demographic.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.