The menopause is a natural transition in a woman’s life, which on average affects women aged 51, although symptoms could start much sooner and can last years. It is, therefore, no wonder why an increasing number of organisations are recognising the need to implement menopause support, as approximately 4.3 million women aged between 45 – 60 are employed in the UK, forming part of the nation’s fastest growing group of workers.
Menopause has remained a taboo topic in business for many years, as women have been reluctant to admit they are struggling through fears of being deemed unfit for their role. However, as women nowadays continue to work longer and take on more senior roles, it is time for businesses take note of the challenges their female employees are facing and offer additional support to retain their talent and maintain performance efficiencies.
Is it a legal requirement?
Whilst businesses are not legally obliged to offer menopause support, an increasing number of discrimination cases are citing menopause, so it is unsurprising why the subject is gaining traction and the support of widely recognised HR bodies. So long as women continue to suffer in silence, organisations may unknowingly be creating a discriminatory culture against middle aged women, therefore, it is important for businesses to identify ways in which they can break down the barriers to discussion around menopause.
How does the menopause affect work life?
A recent survey named ‘Menopause in the Workplace and the TUC’ revealed that aside from the commonly known symptom of hot flushes, the following were also noted as having a significant effect on menopausal women at work:
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Difficulty focusing or concentrating
- Anxiety and worry
- Memory recall
How can we support menopausal employees?
There are various ways businesses can support employees going through the menopause but one of the key recommendations is to create an open and assuring environment where individuals can choose to talk about their situation without judgement, or fear of losing their job.
Other ways to help include:
- Educating managers and staff about the menopause through reliable up-to-date information.
- Creating an accessible, well publicised policy or guidance for colleagues and line management.
- Considering reasonable adjustments for employees who are struggling with menopausal symptoms. This could include, offering flexible working hours, enabling them to take additional breaks throughout the day and perhaps (job permitting) allowing them to work from home.
What’s in it for us?
Not only do employers have a duty of care to their employees but there are also some very compelling commercial benefits to offering menopause support, which some organisations now rely on as part of their employee attraction strategy. These include greater retention rates, enhanced performance, and better employee morale.
Moreover, many suggest that the menopause is directly linked to the Gender Pay Gap, as it often occurs right at the stage in a woman’s career, when they have less familial responsibilities, so they can take on more senior positions. Therefore, not only can a coherent menopause policy boost overall performance efficiency, but it can also lead to wider long-term benefits for the business.