Top Ten Tips for... Creating a Menopause Friendly Workplace
With a whopping 25% of women considering leaving the workplace due to menopause, and more than 10% actually leaving, establishing a menopause friendly workplace is essential to help retain valued skills and knowledge within your workplace.
Last month was Menopause Awareness Month, with World Menopause Day taking place on October 18th. In light of this, we wanted to share our Top Ten Tips on how you can create a menopause friendly workplace and help support the ever-growing percentage of women navigating the challenges of menopause in the workplace
1. Communicate with your team
First of all, let’s consider how menopause aware your organisation is. Would you say your workplace has an open culture in which people feel comfortable talking about the menopause and the challenges they face? By regularly communicating with your team, you can create a culture of openness and honesty, meaning that your team are more likely to feel comfortable discussing their concerns with you or other members of the management team.
2. Know the symptoms
The menopause entails a great deal more than just hot flushes. Symptoms of the menopause can also include mood swings, brain fog, memory issues and difficulties concentrating, as well as low mood, depression, anxiety and a lack of self-confidence. Many menopausal people also have difficulty sleeping which can lead to tiredness at work, affecting job performance. As a leader, it’s important that you fully understand all aspects of the menopause and can therefore take steps to support your employees.
3. Implement training for managers and people professionals
It might be a good idea to provide training for your management team so that they know how to talk and listen effectively and can share any support and guidance the company has available to staff going through the menopause. Whether you have a large group of managers, supervisors and team leaders, or just a few, it’s important that they all understand how to deal with menopause issues sensitively and fairly.
4. Ensure your health and safety is up to scratch
For staff affected by the menopause, conducting regular risk assessments can help you ensure that any menopause symptoms are not exacerbated by the workplace. These assessments can also help identify any changes that can be made to help employees manage their symptoms. A few examples include; the temperature of the workplace, the fit and material of the uniform (if there is one), whether toilets are easily accessible and whether cold drinking water is available.
5. Strengthen your menopause policy
Now could also be a great time to take a look at your health and wellbeing policies – do you already have a menopause policy in place? By developing a specific menopause policy and sharing it across the whole organisation, you will help staff feel supported and valued. As well as showcasing what support is available to staff, your policy can also detail the company’s point of contact for menopause concerns and explain what training is provided to managers. You may also want to look at your other health and wellbeing policies to review areas such as diversity and inclusion, particularly on gender, race and disability.
6. Prioritise flexibility
There are some simple things that you can do to help make menopausal symptoms easier to manage in the workplace. For example, a simple desk fan can help with hot flushes and a drinks dispenser can help everyone stay cool. If you’re in a position to do so, offering flexible working arrangements can also decrease anxiety and stress levels. Being adaptable to your workers’ needs, as well as compassionate about what they’re going through, has been proven to help improve employee attendance and productivity.
7. Consider appointing menopause champions
It’s important to consider that some members of staff may not feel comfortable discussing their health with just anyone at work – for some, health and the menopause is a private and sensitive topic. To help keep the lines of communication open despite this, you can try appointing menopause and wellbeing champions within different areas of the company. These champions can be a more informal point of contact for employees who may feel more comfortable discussing the menopause with work friends who are more on their level. Your menopause champions can also help raise awareness amongst the team as a whole and could even set up a peer to peer menopause support network.
8. Improve work/life balance
We spend the majority of our lives at work and balancing our busy work life with our families and health can be difficult, especially when dealing with symptoms of the menopause. We expect our employees to be focused and productive while at work and to help maintain this, it’s important to encourage staff to have a healthy work/life balance. This will protect them from potentially burning out and exacerbating any symptoms of the menopause.
9. Don’t discriminate - offer support to all
Remember that it’s not always going to be obvious who is experiencing symptoms of the menopause. Whilst many people experiencing menopause identify as women, not everyone does. Some are non-binary and others are transgender. It’s essential that organisations offer support to everyone equally and keep conversations private and confidential, particularly when discussing gender identity.
10. Understand the law
Don’t forget that all employers also have legal requirements when it comes to the health and safety of their employees so it’s important to understand how the menopause relates to the law. Brush up on your knowledge, including the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As of 2023, the menopause is not a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, but if an employee is treated unfairly due to the menopause then it could be classed as discrimination if it also relates to age, disability, gender reassignment or sex.
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