Top Ten Tips for... Supporting Employees through the Menopause

Top Ten Tips for... Supporting Employees through the Menopause

Did you know that a record number of older women are now working past retirement age? According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the proportion of women aged 50 to 64 with jobs has risen by more than 50 per cent in the past 30 years.

But that also means there are now more people than ever working whilst affected by the menopause. World Menopause Day is on October 18th and the month of October is dedicated to Menopause Awareness – in light of this, we wanted to share Top Ten Tips on how you can help support your employees through the menopause...

1. Understand the symptoms

It’s not just about having 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 manager, it’s important that you fully understand and recognise all aspects of the menopause and can therefore take steps to support your employees.

2. Engage with your team

There’s not always a lot of support in the workplace for those experiencing the menopause, so it’s important to 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 creating a culture of openness and honesty, your team are more likely to feel comfortable discussing their concerns with you or other members of the management team.

3. Carry out health and safety checks

As an employer, you are legally responsible for the health and safety of all staff and this means that risk assessments must be conducted within the workplace. For staff affected by the menopause, these risk assessment can help you ensure that any menopause symptoms are not exacerbated by the workplace and can also help identify any changes that can be made to help staff 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.

4. Provide training for managers

Would your managers feel comfortable discussing the menopause with their colleagues? 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.

5. Develop a menopause policy

While you are taking these steps to help support your employees, it’s also a good time to take a look at your health and wellbeing policies. By developing a specific menopause policy and sharing it across the whole organisation, you will help staff feel supported and show your commitment to preventing discrimination. 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. Be flexible

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 greatly reduce stress levels. Being adaptable to your workers’ needs, as well as compassionate about what they’re going through, has been proven to help improve attendance and productivity.

7. Encourage a good 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. Many people feel torn between work and home, particularly now technology means we’re now more easily contactable than ever before. We expect our employees to be focused and productive while at work but encouraging them to get the right work/life balance will protect them from potentially burning out and exacerbating any symptoms of the menopause.

8. Appoint menopause and wellbeing champions

It’s important to note that some members of staff may not feel comfortable discussing their health with just anyone at work – for some, the menopause is a private and sensitive topic. Why not appoint menopause and wellbeing champions within different areas of the company? These champions can be a more informal point of contact for team members 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.

9. 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. Know the law

As an employer, you should understand how the menopause relates to the law, including the Equality Act 2010 and Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. As of 2022 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.

Find out more about discrimination and the law here

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