MAKE A DIFFERENCE | workplace culture / mental health / wellbeing

Over Half Of UK Businesses Don’t Offer Any Employee Menopause Support

Is Menopause still taboo in the workplace?
Scrabble letters spelling out menopause on a pink background.

Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce, according to a Government Report on Menopause. So why do businesses not offer support for their employees going through this process?

According to research by Peppy, over half of UK businesses (54%) do not currently have any dedicated menopause support in place within their organisation. This includes practical and emotional support for employees to help manage their symptoms and quality of life.

As part of the research, 504 HR decision-makers were asked questions about their company’s menopausal support. 29% of respondents said that the main reason for offering support was because employers believed it was their duty of care and the right thing to do. However, a quarter (24%) of employers are not planning to offer any menopause support now or in the future.

Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy says: “The menopause movement is clearly gaining ground in the workplace but there is more to do. The workforce is evolving and becoming more multi-generational. The rate at which employers are taking up menopause support is positive, as these figures suggest. Although 24% of employers are not currently planning to support menopause in the workplace, they will need to adapt in order to compete in terms of recruitment and retention.”

What Menopausal Support Do Businesses Provide?

According to the research, 46% of employers offer general support for some of the symptoms (e.g. counselling / mental health/sleep supporting/anxiety, etc) that are available via other employee benefits, including EAPs. Other businesses (39%) offer support from employee benefits provided via health and wellbeing benefits such as PMI.

Other support includes education and events specifically around menopause (32%), dedicated menopause support from a specialist healthcare professional (29%) and line manager training specifically around menopause (26%). Nearly a quarter of businesses (23%) offer no specific menopause support but have other benefits that incorporate aspects of support.

So what motivates businesses to support their employees around menopause? According to Peppy’s research, 19% of companies do it to support their brand values and 15% do it as it helps retain staff. Only 8% said their competitors offering support was a motivator.

Pore continues: “In an ideal world, employees would ask their employers to provide better support but we know that while menopause is becoming much more openly discussed, there are still taboos in the workplace. Employers should not wait to be approached by their staff—they need to lead the discussion that it is okay to have symptoms and to ask for support at work.”

The B2B HR tech company explains that World Menopause Day (18th October) is a great opportunity to “undertake an honest appraisal” of what’s on offer. Its research has found that 42% of employers will highlight menopause issues to staff on 18th October.

What Is The Menopause?

Menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally, says the NHS website. It is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman’s oestrogen levels decline. In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51. Around 1 in 100 women experience menopause before 40 years old—this is known as premature menopause.

Almost 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work, according to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. While some women experience little or no menopausal symptoms, the majority experience symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disturbance, fatigue, night swears, skin irritation and more, lasting up to 15 years.

Three out of five menopausal women between 45 and 55 years old said that their symptoms have had a negative impact on them at work, according to the Charter Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Nearly a third (30%) of women have taken sick leave because of their symptoms, with one in four considered leaving their jobs.