18 October 2019
Celebrating World Menopause Day with a call for employers to do more
Today is World Menopause Day and with 3.5 million women over 50 in the workforce1 it’s a subject which employers need to be addressing as part of an overall health and wellbeing support strategy.
With a third of women taking sick leave for menopausal symptoms2 because they are unwilling to tell their manager what’s really going on, it’s an issue which can’t be ignored.
Those sickness absence figures will have a huge impact on any workforce and if there was menopause support in place within the business it’s likely these women could happily be working.
World Menopause Day is marked every year on the 18 October with the aim of educating people about the menopause and raising awareness of the issues potentially faced by every single woman as she gets older.
Menopause has been a taboo subject in the past with many myths around it but it’s a reality faced by every single woman and as their symptoms start to impact everyday life, including their work, it needs to be taken more seriously by employers.
Three out five women experiencing symptoms say they have a negative impact on their work2, but there are simple actions an employer could take like providing desk fans to help keep women comfortable or providing shower facilities if they need to freshen up.
Setting out a menopause policy which could include opportunities to work from home or have flexible working choices can make a meaningful difference, as symptoms such as hot flashes at night can lead to bad sleep and terrible fatigue.
With around 8 out of 10 menopausal women being in work3 it’s important to develop a culture of openness where a woman is not embarrassed and can speak to a manager when she is having issues caused by menopausal symptoms.
Holding educational workshops for all staff to make them aware of menopausal symptoms and the effect they can have on women in the workplace is a good way to start to bring the subject into conversations and break that taboo barrier.
Educational and support programmes in the workplace can also help to break down some of the common myths around menopause, including the belief that it is just about having hot flashes and sleepless nights3.
There are other physical symptoms experienced by women, and there can also be an impact on mental health arising from symptoms such as anxiety, aggression, low moods, depression, being unable to concentrate and forgetfulness, which can all impact a woman in the workplace, and have an effect on her colleagues3.
At the moment, around 90% of workplaces fail to offer any kind of support for women going through the menopause4 at all but with the growing ageing workforce this will almost certainly have to change.