Menopause and the workplace – how to ensure staff stay well and thrive in the workplace
Posted 20/10/2021 : By: Kathryn Knight
According to the British Menopause Society, 45% of women feel their menopause symptoms have had a negative impact on their work. The menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman’s oestrogen levels decline and she stops having periods.
Most women will experience the menopause between age 45 and 55 but it can happen earlier than this due to ‘premature menopause’ or as a result of surgery, illness or treatment (such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy).
Symptoms can manifest both physically and psychologically and can last for several years. The majority of menopausal women experience symptoms with one in four women experiencing debilitating symptoms. Experiencing any of the typical symptoms can pose a challenge for women as they go about their daily lives, including their comfort and performance at work.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Symptoms vary greatly and commonly include (but are not limited to):
- psychological issues such as mood disturbances, anxiety and/or depression, memory loss, panic attacks, loss of confidence and reduced concentration
- hot flushes (brief and sudden surges of heat usually felt in the face, neck and chest)
- sleep disturbance that can make people feel tired and irritable
- night sweats (hot flushes that happen during the night)
- irregular periods and/or periods can become light or heavy
- muscle and joint stiffness, aches and pains
- recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs) including cystitis
- weight gain
- palpitations (heartbeats that become more noticeable)
- skin changes (dryness, acne, general itchiness).
What support can employers offer women experiencing the menopause?
Menopause is not just a gender or age issue, as it can impact colleagues both directly and indirectly, and it should therefore be considered as an organisational issue. All managers need to know about it, and how they can support their staff.
If you don’t already have one in place, a menopause policy can provide staff going through the menopause with vital tools and support and helpline managers and colleagues understand how they can support employees experiencing symptoms.
When an employer becomes aware of an employee’s situation, they should carry out a risk assessment to consider the specific needs of the staff member, identify areas of the working environment that could make symptoms worse and make reasonable adjustments to alleviate the impact of symptoms.
Adjustments could include:
- desk fans, adjust the air conditioning or move the desk close to a window
- ensuring cold drinking water is available from the water coolers or chilled water taps
- flexibility around dress code i.e. ability to wear clothing that helps staff feel comfortable and relaxed
- more breaks away from the computer/time to move around
- working in a quiet room.
Employers may also be able to support employees transitioning through the menopause through flexible working arrangements either on a temporary or permanent basis.
Flexible working arrangements could include:
- earlier start times and finish times to avoid peak travel times if commuting to the office
- more breaks and time away from their computer
- a request to reduce work hours on a temporary basis
- working from home/flexibility to work in other areas of the office.
We Can Help You
If you need assistance creating a menopause policy or would like advice on how you can support your staff – both those going through the menopause and managers and colleagues - please get in touch with a member of the team through our online enquiry form.
How can we help you?
If you have an enquiry or you would like to find out more about our services, why not contact us?Call Us On 0333 222 0989