Do you want to know how to support women at work going through the menopause?
In this post, we provide practical tips for how managers and organisations can engage and support women at work going through the menopause.
We do not profess to be menopause experts, there are lots of other resources available for more scientific advice and help. However, we are experts in employee engagement so this post is intended to provide organisations and managers with some key pieces of practical advice for supporting women experiencing menopause.
In this post:
- What is the menopause?
- What are the symptoms of menopause?
- What are the benefits to organisations of engaging women going through the menopause?
- What can organisations do to engage and support women at work going through the menopause?
- How should employees going through the menopause seek support?
- In conclusion
How do you know if someone is going through the menopause? What should you do if you think someone who is going through the menopause needs help? What are the practical things organisations and managers can do to support women going through the menopause?
What is the menopause?
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It is a time of significant hormonal change that can impact a woman’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
For women going through menopause, the workplace can be a challenging environment to navigate. Managers can play an important role in creating a supportive work environment that engages and empowers women going through menopause.
What are the symptoms of menopause?
Menopause can cause a range of physical and emotional symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, anxiety, and fatigue. It’s essential for managers to understand these symptoms and their impact on work performance. By recognising the signs of menopause, managers can offer the necessary support to help women navigate this stage of their lives effectively.
There are several signs that may indicate that someone is struggling with the menopause and could benefit from support. As a manager, here are some tips for spotting the signs that someone might need support because of the menopause:
1. Changes in behaviour or mood
Menopause can cause significant hormonal changes that can affect a person’s behavior and mood. Look for signs of irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or depression that may be out of character for the individual.
2. Decreased performance or productivity
Menopause symptoms can impact work performance, including concentration, focus, and memory. Look for signs of decreased productivity or missed deadlines.
3. Increased absenteeism or presenteeism
Menopause symptoms can cause discomfort, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, which may lead to increased absenteeism or presenteeism (working while sick or unwell). Look for patterns of frequent or prolonged absences or signs of fatigue, such as yawning, dozing off, or appearing tired.
4. Complaints of physical symptoms
Menopause can cause a range of physical symptoms, including hot flashes, night sweats, joint pain, amongst others. Look for signs of complaints about these symptoms or visible signs of discomfort.
By recognising these signs, managers can provide the necessary support and accommodations to engage and empower women going through menopause.
What are the benefits to organisations of engaging women going through the menopause?
While menopause is a natural process, it can be a challenging time for many women. Engaging women who are going through menopause can have several benefits, both for the women and the organisations they work for.
Improved employee retention
Women may choose to leave their jobs if they do not receive the support they need at work.
By engaging women going through menopause, organisations can show that they value their female employees and are willing to support them through this transition.
Engaging women experience the menopause can be a key strategy to improve employee retention and reduce the costs associated with turnover.
Menopause symptoms can significantly impact a woman’s productivity. By providing support and adjustments, such as flexible schedules, temperature control in the workplace, and access to healthcare resources, organisations can help women manage their symptoms and remain productive.
Improved health outcomes
Menopause can also bring about several health risks, including an increased risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and certain cancers.
Engaging women going through menopause can provide an opportunity to educate them about these risks and encourage them to take steps to improve their health, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine.
Increased diversity, equity and inclusivity
Menopause is a natural process that affects approximately half of the world’s population, yet it is often considered a taboo topic.
By openly discussing menopause and providing support to women going through this transition, organisations can create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusivity. More inclusive and diverse workplace cultures value the experiences and contributions of all employees.
Improved employee morale
Menopause can be a challenging time for women, and providing support and adjustments can significantly improve employee morale.
When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to feel satisfied with their jobs and more motivated to perform well.
What can organisations do to engage and support women at work going through the menopause?
As the age of the working population increases, more and more women are likely to be experiencing the menopause at work. Traditional working environments will fail to recognise the support they need at best, but at worst it can lead people to quit their jobs.
As such, supporting and engaging women going through the menopause should be an important part of your organisation’s culture.
Changing an organisation’s culture is difficult to do, as we explain in more detail in our post on how to change organisation culture in 5 steps, but there are some specific things you can do to support women experiencing menopause.
Make changes in work schedule or workload
Women going through menopause may require accommodations, such as flexible work arrangements, adjustments to job duties or workload, or time off for medical appointments or self-care. Look for signs of requests for these accommodations or changes in work schedules.
If the menopause symptoms are severe, managers can adjust job duties and responsibilities to ensure the employee’s well-being. This can include temporarily assigning tasks to other team members or allowing the employee to work on lighter tasks.
Effective communication is critical for engaging women going through menopause. Managers can create a safe and open dialogue to discuss the challenges women face, allowing for effective problem-solving and support.
Encourage open communication with your employees, including discussions about menopause and its impact on work performance. Create a safe space for employees to share their experiences, ask questions, and seek support.
Creating a supportive work environment is essential for engaging women going through menopause. Managers can provide a range of support mechanisms, including:
Provide flexible working arrangements
Offering flexible work arrangements can help women going through menopause balance work and personal responsibilities. This can include things like allowing for remote work, flexible hours, or reduced workloads.
Hot flashes and night sweats are common symptoms of menopause that can make women uncomfortable at work. Managers can provide a comfortable work environment by adjusting the temperature, providing fans, and allowing for the removal of jackets and layers.
Implementing wellness programs can help women going through menopause improve their overall well-being. These programmes can include access to resources like mental health services, nutrition counselling, and fitness programmes.
Educate employees about menopause
Education is key to engaging women in the workplace who are going through menopause. Managers can educate employees about menopause to help reduce stigma and encourage open dialogue.
Creating awareness about menopause can help reduce stigma and encourage empathy and support. This can be achieved through workshops, seminars, or training sessions.
Managers play a critical role in creating a supportive work environment for women going through menopause. Training managers on how to recognise the symptoms, communicate effectively, and provide support can help create a positive workplace culture.
Implement menopause-friendly policies
Establishing policies that support women going through menopause can create a sense of security and promote engagement. Policies can include flexible work arrangements, access to wellness programs, and the provision of temperature-controlled workspaces.
Menopause symptoms can be unpredictable, and women may require time off for medical appointments or self-care. Flexibility in leave policies can help women manage their symptoms effectively while maintaining their work responsibilities.
Create menopause support networks
Encouraging the formation of support networks can help women going through menopause connect and share experiences. Managers can facilitate these networks, create opportunities for discussion, and promote peer support.
Make adjustments to the working environment
Physical symptoms like joint pain, headaches etc., can impact work performance. Managers can provide accommodations such as ergonomic office chairs, access to pain medication, or a private space for personal care.
Provide support for emotional eell-being
Menopause can also impact women’s emotional well-being, including depression, anxiety, and mood swings. Managers can offer support through mental health services, counseling, or employee assistance programs (EAPs).
Normalise the Conversation
Lastly, normalising the conversation about menopause can reduce the stigma and create an open, supportive culture. Managers can initiate conversations, share resources, and encourage employees to discuss their experiences.
How should employees going through the menopause seek support?
Asking for support with the menopause in the workplace can be challenging, especially if you’re unsure how to broach the topic or if you’re worried about being stigmatised or misunderstood. However, seeking support is essential for managing the menopause symptoms and maintaining your work performance and well-being.
Here are some tips for how women can ask for support with the menopause in the workplace:
Know your rights
Familiarise yourself with your company’s policies and procedures for managing menopause symptoms, including accommodations, leave policies, and EAPs. Knowing your rights can help you navigate the process more confidently and assertively.
Identify your needs
Identify the specific symptoms that are impacting your work performance or well-being and think about what accommodations or support you need to manage them effectively. This might include flexible work arrangements, adjusted job duties or workload, or access to medical or mental health services.
Choose the right time and place
Choose a time and place to discuss your needs with your manager that is private and convenient for both of you. You might consider scheduling a one-on-one meeting, sending an email, or requesting a video conference call.
Be clear and concise
When discussing your needs, be clear and concise about the specific symptoms you’re experiencing and how they’re impacting your work performance. Provide concrete examples and suggestions for accommodations or support that would help you manage your symptoms.
Emphasise the benefits
Emphasise how accommodations or support can benefit not only you but also the organisation. For example, by providing accommodations, you can maintain your work performance and productivity, reduce absenteeism or presenteeism, and contribute to a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.
Seek support from colleagues, HR, or EAPs who can provide guidance, resources, and advocacy. By building a support network, you can feel more confident and empowered to ask for the support you need.
Engaging women going through menopause in the workplace requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Managers can create a supportive work environment, provide education, offer resources, and normalise the conversation around menopause.
By understanding the symptoms of menopause, creating a supportive work environment, educating employees, and promoting support networks, managers can create a workplace that engages and empowers women going through menopause.
By implementing these strategies, managers can support women through this life stage and promote a positive, inclusive workplace culture.
Ultimately, this will benefit both the employee and the organisation as a whole.