Employers are well placed to understand and support the needs of staff experiencing menopause – a natural part of aging that affects around half of the UK population. Pippa Andrews, Director of Corporate Business at Vitality, tells us why.
In order to create an inclusive workplace culture for those impacted by menopause, line managers do not need to be experts on the subject. All employers need is a simple understanding of how its many guises might affect their workforce, alongside a willingness to have an open conversation about it with employees.
Statistics show that menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, with nearly eight out of 10 menopausal women in UK employment. As many as three out of four people who experience it get symptoms and one in four find them troublesome enough to interfere with everyday life. Half of working women found doing their job challenging due to menopausal symptoms – and 10% left the workplace altogether.
Not only does tackling this often-overlooked workplace wellbeing issue head-on help shatter it as a taboo, a proactive approach from employers can help ensure staff feel supported at work and more productive as a result. Here are five ways that, if combined, will go a long way to creating a menopause-friendly workplace for staff.
1. Start the conversation
Creating an open culture at work is crucial to ensuring the topic of menopause is normalised in the workplace, so employees feel like they can speak freely about their feelings and experiences. One way to do this is to start an internal networking group to allow staff to share insights and start discussions about the subject. As well as offering support for employees likely to be impacted physically or mentally by menopause, it can help raise awareness for those who might be going through it with their partner or family member – for example, male staff members.
2. Be aware of symptoms
It’s important that employers recognise that peoples’ individual experience of menopause can differ greatly. Symptoms can be wide-ranging and impact staff members at different time. For example, around one in 100 women will experience perimenopause – the time leading up to menopause involving symptoms – before the age of 40. Some will be impacted severely, others less so. In addition, transgender women can experience menopause symptoms when they commence HRT treatment. Alongside hot flushes and sweats, which affect around three quarters of people going through menopause, other symptoms include mood swings, brain fog, poor sleep and tiredness as well as mental health issues such as increased anxiety and low self-esteem.
3. Share resources and guidance
To help employees understand menopause, its many symptoms and to break down stigma in the workplace, employers can distribute educational content and informative resources through their internal intranet pages – or signpost to them through staff communications. Such guidance should be diverse and inclusive so its relevant to a wide range of employees, offering support and information to all those who might experience menopause as well as those around them. This will help raise awareness of the topic and show employees that the organisation is not afraid to create dialogue and provide support to those who may be impacted by menopause.
4. Provide staff training
Guidance from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine’s 2016 recommends menopause training for staff to raise awareness and introduce an array of workplace solutions. Henpicked, for example, provides line manager and colleague support such as eLearning, videos as well as policy and communications expertise. Awareness days such as World Menopause Day (18th October) and International Women’s Day are good opportunities for organisations to bring attention to the issue and generate engagement among staff, with education and training as part of that.
5. Offer personalised support
It wasn’t long ago that employers lacked the tools needed to support staff through a biological process which is inevitable for about half of the UK population. In October last year, Vitality partnered with Peppy to create its award-winning Vitality Menopause Support, a health insurance market first. Since then VitalityHealth clients on Personal Healthcare, Business Healthcare* and Corporate Healthcare** have had access to one-to-one video consultations and unlimited instant messaging with NHS-trained menopause practitioners via the Peppy app. The service also offers symptom management alongside peer-to-peer support groups, helpful resources and much more.
A version of this article originally appeared on Vitality Adviser Insights Hub
*Except Vitality Essentials and Vitality at Work Business
**Except Vitality at Work Enterprise