The menopause is frequently stigmatised and a taboo subject for many, however attitudes are changing, and employers need to realise that ignoring it can be detrimental to their business.
Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic according to Deborah Garlick from Henpicked. The average age of women impacted by the menopause is 51, and many women are working until their late 60’s. As an employer you need to take menopause seriously as 80% of women will experience symptoms to varying degrees. The symptoms can range from hot flushes to insomnia, but the biggest impact is psychological. Anxiety, nervousness, and recall can affect a woman’s confidence and 1 in 4 women consider leaving work due to the menopause. When you consider the average cost of replacing an employee (up to £30,000) this is too expensive an issue to ignore.
So, what can you do to support women at work?
Firstly, create an open culture, where menopause is talked about and recognise that this is a health issue.
Secondly by updating your policies to reflect menopause, especially policies such as sickness and flexible working to consider symptoms such as night sweats and insomnia.
Provide training and educate line managers on the legal obligation to support employees through the menopause and being open to discuss it. Equally recognise the importance of sensitivity and don’t make assumptions about someone’s health conditions.
As a company provide reassurance and comfort by enabling women to talk about it and by encouraging them to come together to share experiences. One notable example is the Menopause Café introduced by King’s College, London and it’s example has been shared by other organisations. Details of how to set one up are included in the link below.
Legal Obligations & Risk Assessments
Many employers are aware that they have a legal duty to make suitable and sufficient assessments of the workplace risks to the health and safety of their employees, but not as aware that this also includes making adjustments for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms. Being conscious of the symptoms an employee may be experiencing and ensuring that these are not aggravated by their job is key to fulfilling the legal responsibilities. Adjustments can include providing a fan at work, changing shift patterns, providing flexible working arrangements, and many more which can be achieved by discussing this with the employee concerned.
By recognising how you as an employer can support women at work, you are embracing an inclusive and diverse culture and ensuring that the health of your employees is taken seriously whilst reducing your absence rates and increasing your retention of a diverse and talented workforce.
Further information on the menopause and support that is available can be accessed using the following links:
For more support on how to support managers with the menopause in your organisation, please get in touch for a chat. We’d love to help. Letstalk@albanyhr.com, 0131 364 4186.