1 in 4 women going through the menopause have considered leaving work because of their symptoms.

Most women between the age of 45 and 55 will experience the menopause and the fastest growing segment of the workforce, are women over the age of 50.

The majority of women will go through the menopause during their working lives and this can last for several years. For many women without the right support, they will be unable to meet their full potential and it’s reported for every six in ten women it can have a negative impact on both their performance and attendance at work.

Symptoms during the menopause can range from memory loss, headaches, depression and anxiety, sleeplessness and hot flushes; which can be both embarrassing and physically distressing. Over 50% of women find it difficult to cope with work and often relationships at work are impacted by the physical and psychological effects of the menopause.

Impact on the organisation:

Each year it’s costing the UK economy millions, where businesses fail to support female employees effectively that are going through the menopause.

In a recent report by the Government Equalities Office, it’s estimated that around £7.3m is lost annually through absence.

Women’s participation in the UK economy is being seriously impacted by the lack of understanding around the menopause and with the increasing pressures with gender pay gap deadlines and boardroom diversity, this is an issue that employers needs to take seriously.

Help your business succeed by supporting women through the menopause and break the stigma.

  • Speak to your employees and find out what would benefit their individual circumstances or experience. Help employees to manage the transition, by creating a tailored plan or set of working conditions.
  • Consider creating a network or support group, a place where people can offer each other support and share experiences.
  • Promote flexible working practices and provide employees the option to work from home when they need the space and flexibility.
  • Make simple changes to the office environment and be sensitive when it comes to the air conditioning or heating systems in place. Provide desk fans and perhaps allocate cool or warm area’s and ensure access to drink water is readily available.
  • Support systems, such as an Employee Assistance Programme and Occupational Health Services are also very important should women wish to access them. Professionals in these area’s will be best placed to offer guidance as they will understand exactly what a woman is going through.
  • Consider equality and diversity training, flexible working patterns and tailored absence policies to cater for women’s’ differing experiences. The emphasis is on a variety of approaches to support the menopause transition at work.

Professor Jo Brewis, who authored a government report Menopause transition: effect’s on women’s economic participation, said:“ Not all women will want to talk about it at work and that is fine. The main thing they need is understanding and flexibility and an awareness that the support is there if needed."

How will your organisation benefit?

  • Increased engagement and loyalty
  • Lower sickness absence and employee turnover
  • Fostering an age and gender-inclusive workplace will allow you to tap into the valuable skills and talent, this fast-growing segment of the workforce has to offer.
  • Help close the gender pay gap, by removing barriers to progression for women.

Menopausal symptoms can be wide-ranging, and the experiences can vary drastically from woman to woman. Ensure staff are educated and understand the full range of possible effects this can have on your employees or colleagues. Utilise resources and training sessions to help promote the right attitude and raise awareness. Otherwise you risk female employees being exposed to an unsupportive environment, who don’t feel comfortable to raise concerns or be able to explain gaps in their performance.

This article was provided by Via Vita.