MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Menopause Support For Staff Hindered By COVID-19

Working from home is proving to hinder employees receiving menopause support.
Menopause support: Rear view of woman brainstorm talk on team online video call with diverse multiracial colleagues. Female employee speak on webcam group meeting briefing with coworkers, have web virtual conference.

2021 was an overwhelming year, with the COVID-19 pandemic putting a huge strain on both employers and employees as the mass shift was made to home and hybrid working. It has emerged that an as yet unrecognised victim of this shift is menopause support for staff.

Menopause support for employees can be the difference between positive and negative wellbeing in the workplace.

However, according to Peppy, over a quarter of employers (28%) say that the pandemic has made it harder to know which employees might need menopause support.

The research was conducted by Opinium on behalf of Peppy among 504 HR decision-makers in September 2021.

Working From Home And Treatment Waiting Making Things Difficult

Further, 21% of companies say that with increased numbers of staff working from home they have less ability to track when or why people are off work. This also includes flexible working arrangements.

In addition, 20% of employers feel they have less ability to promote employee benefits. This in turn could help people deal with the symptoms of menopause.

Nearly a third (29%) of employers believe that longer NHS waiting times have negatively affected managing menopause issues in the workplace.

However, employers recognise they need to step up. The research says that 59% of employers believe that the elongated waiting times are due to COVID-19. This has exacerbated the need for employers to provide support.

Dr. Pore explains: “We know that there is a real groundswell of support for menopause issues as many employees are making their voices heard on the matter.

“However, this increase in demand for menopause support services puts pressure on our already stretched NHS.

“Employers have a great opportunity to step in and provide that support by making it quick and easy to get help without the need to wait for a GP appointment or a referral to a menopause clinic.”

What Does Menopause Support Need To Include?

Peppy’s research also showed that employers understand that some employees will still be reluctant to open up about medical issues, such as menopause, in the workplace.

Dr. Pore continues: “It’s true to say that many women of menopausal age feel vulnerable to sexism and ageism in the workplace and have concerns about being overlooked for promotions and pay rises.

“It is therefore understandable why they may not wish to highlight menopausal symptoms and potentially bring in to question their productivity, efficiency or suitability for a role.”

Employers also state that menopause support needs to be easy to use (31%) and easy to access (27%).

A quarter felt that a personalised or bespoke approach was an important feature.

Interestingly, a quarter also felt that integration with NHS services was key so that employees could seamlessly navigate between the support offered by their employer and their local health services.

“Employers need to ensure they offer dedicated support from a menopause healthcare specialist if they truly want to help menopausal staff as the pandemic continues to be a feature of our daily lives,” says Dr. Pore.

“Once this support is in place, employers are able to evidence their caring and supportive workplace culture, as it demonstrates that they are ahead of the curve, and value their employees at what can be an extremely difficult period as they balance their health issues and their career.

“While working from home may have been a godsend for many menopausal staff, offering menopause support could now be crucial in helping employees make a positive return to the office when we are advised to do so.”

Did you find this article interesting? Consider reading Workplace menopause support needs extending to men, 5 ways to create a menopause-friendly workplace and Over half of UK businesses don’t offer any employee menopause support.