With retirement ages getting higher and a significant proportion of the working population getting older, menopause is just one of the wellbeing challenges businesses will be facing. Being conscious of menopause, how it affects colleagues and the potential impact on their job performance is essential to ensuring the welfare of your workforce.
Here’s some advice and guidelines on how to become a menopause-conscious business and how it can benefit you.
Working women and the menopause.
Women aged over 50 are one of the fastest-growing demographics in the workplace. So, with the average age of women starting menopause being 51, this is a welfare issue that’s set to increase in importance for HR managers and teams. Despite this, and the fact that three out of four women experience symptoms, very few businesses have support for menopausal colleagues in place.
Menopausal symptoms are wide-ranging, unique to each individual and last for an average of four years. The first sign for most women is a change in the nature and frequency of their periods. They will continue to reduce in frequency until they stop altogether. Eight out of ten women will experience other symptoms during this time, including hot flushes, difficulty sleeping and changes in mood.
Why is it important to support colleagues?
A CIPD survey of 1,409 menopausal women found that the impacts of symptoms on colleagues can be significant, with more than half experiencing greater stress, feeling less able to concentrate and less patient with colleagues. As well as causing difficulties at work, a third of women surveyed said they’d taken sick days as a result of their symptoms, but only a quarter told their manager the real reason why.
This lack of ability to speak out and ask for support doesn’t just impact individual colleagues but can cause misunderstandings between teams, a rise in absenteeism and can even cause employees to resign. By raising awareness of the effects of menopause and empowering colleagues, you can ensure that there’s a minimal impact on both individuals and the business.
How to support colleagues through the menopause.
As well as raising awareness amongst teams about the effects of menopause on individuals, it’s key that support systems are put in place to give colleagues any assistance they need.
This can be company-wide training or a toolkit for line managers, but it’s essential that colleagues are made aware of what menopause is, who it affects and how they can find or provide support. Bringing in external stakeholders to provide this training and offer employee support can help menopausal colleagues to feel more comfortable in coming forward for help.
Develop a policy.
Menopause is a significant change in many employees’ lives. As such, setting out colleagues’ rights, the support you (as an employer) can provide and where employees can reach out for help in a policy shows your commitment to them. Just like any other sex or gender-related issue, developing a policy should be done alongside a thorough health and safety assessment so you can minimise or remove any potential risks for colleagues.
Any changes or support you provide should be employee-led. Consider setting up an advisory board with women from a range of backgrounds, races, sex and gender backgrounds to review any changes in policy or support. Establish champions who can offer guidance and act as representatives of the community affected by menopause.
To minimise the impact of menopause on colleague performance, it’s important to understand that each individual’s experience is different. Having flexibility in terms of working from home, providing fans in the office or mental health support are just a few ways employers can help. However, asking each individual directly about the support they need is key to managing their performance at work effectively through menopause.
If you need advice on how to improve your employee experience for menopausal colleagues, then get in touch with our expert team. From delivering awareness training to advising on business policies, we can help you to put the structures in place to support menopausal colleagues effectively.
Advice and Guidance
‘Act Like a Leader, Think Like a Leader’, by Herminia Ibarra
You aspire to lead with greater impact. The problem is you’re busy executing on today’s demands. You know you have to carve out time from your day job to build your leadership skills, but it’s easy to let immediate problems and old mind-sets get in the way. Herminia Ibarra – an expert on professional leadership […]
Increased employee turnover, hybrid working and economic disruption are just some of the challenges that emerged as a result of COVID-19. As HR teams look to take advantage in the aftermath of the pandemic, certain trends have accelerated and appeared, as identified by the Academy to Innovate HR (AIHR) in their latest report. This article […]