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Menopause & The Workplace

25 Oct 2022

While there is growing awareness of the impact that “the menopause” can have on women, the true costs, both direct and indirect, associated with this natural transitionary phase in a female’s life are not yet as visible or known. These costs are personal, familial, societal, corporate and economic; today’s blog focuses mainly on the impact and cost of the menopause to businesses worldwide and the proactive steps that can be taken by well-informed stakeholders to support their employees AND protect the bottom line! 

Our previous blog “The Menopause … Time for a Rebranding?” provided an overview of what the menopause is, pertinent statistics, the most common symptoms, diagnosis methods, symptom management options, HRT and more with the aim of raising awareness and signposting support options.

The Workplace

The workplace is changing, and the role that women play in the workplace is changing too.

With woman over 50 currently shown to be the fastest growing sector of the workforce, it is inevitable that organisations will have employees working through their menopausal transition, and will also have husbands, partners and family members of women in the transition who are negatively impacted too and looking to support their wife, partner or mother.

It is estimated that 14 million working days are lost a year because of the menopause.  The physical and emotional changes that can affect some women as they transition often create temporary difficulties for them which in turn may have an unavoidable impact on their workplace performance. Mood changes and psychological effects can often be the worst symptoms experienced by many women; cognition impairments are more common than the “stereotypical” hot flush.

Research has shown that as many as 25% of women have considered resigning because of a lack of support from their employer.  With an estimated cost of £30 – 35k to refill a vacant post, not to mention the loss of intellectual capital, it makes sense for employers to actively support their female staff through this natural stage of their life.

Understanding the facts behind the menopause is vital when it comes to offering support to those going through it.  However, enhanced value comes when you are able to apply that understanding to wider workplace conversations and policies.  Thankfully companies are beginning to support their people and are looking to start or continue the conversation when it comes to policies, support groups and inclusivity!  The more we educate and talk about it, creating an inclusive and safe environment at work, the more women can maintain or advance their career and continue adding real value within the workplace.

As an employer and colleague, it is so important to recognise the symptoms and be there to support and offer flexibility so no-one feels that they have to leave their job during this transition.  Losing talented women at the point where they can be strong mentors and role models, supporting the development of others, makes no sense; retention of expert and experienced women in their industries is a must!

The Scale of the Issue

Misdiagnosis and mismanagement of this critical hormone deficiency has significant negative consequences in the workplace and severely impacts the contribution to GDP.

“Davina Documentary” - fawcettsociety.org.uk

  • 3 out of 4 women experience menopause symptoms
  • 1 in 4 experience debilitating symptoms
  • 1 in 10 women have left their job due to their symptoms
  • 44% said their ability to work has been affected
  • 61% said that they had lost motivation at work due to symptoms
  • 8 in 10 women say their employers haven’t offered support
  • 14M lost work days per annum
  • Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce

Menopause at Work Survey – R Lewis / L Newson – Menopause at Work Survey 2019

Survey of 1132 women:

  • 94% said their symptoms had a negative impact on their work
  • 9% had a disciplinary process as a result of their poor performance
  • 51% had time off due to their symptoms (19% off for more than 8 weeks)
  • 51% had reduced their working hours
  • Cause on sick certificates – 52% = anxiety / 7% = menopause

Without a doubt, unsupported and untreated menopause impacts the following within the workplace:

  • Productivity
  • Attrition
  • Wellbeing
  • Employee Engagement
  • Absenteeism

There are currently 13M “menopausal” women in the UK and 80% of these women are in the workplace as per the Faculty of Occupational Medicine.  By 2030, the world population of menopausal women is projected to increase to 1.2BN, with 47M new entrants each year. 

 It is worth noting that the menopause is not currently a protected characteristic. 

Options for Proactive Employers 

So, what are some of the options for employers?

  • Awareness training for managers
  • Awareness training for colleagues
  • Awareness training for younger women – proactively gifting them the knowledge
  • Inclusion in EAP
  • Support groups (HR led generally)
  • Drop in clinics for “menopausal” women AND anyone in need of a listening ear and some advice and guidance
  • Menopause policy – successful implementation will be culture dependent
    • Cultural training
    • A dedicated policy will provide employees, both women facing the menopause and managers, with vital tools and support
  • Communications
  • Menopause Friendly Employer accreditation

The menopause is not a “female” issue; it’s a personal, familial, societal, corporate and economic issue.  Due to the volume of people in the workplace, it’s an ideal place to be raising awareness, sharing knowledge and supporting each other, with potentially huge positive consequences. Through education, women are made aware earlier, ideally prior to their 30s, which supports early identification, conversations, decisions and management! … that’s a win-win in my opinion!

In conclusion…

Whilst the topic of the menopause is no longer quite as ridiculously taboo in the workplace as it once was, we’ve still a long way to go!  There has been recent recognition that:

  • companies are feeling the pressure and requiring support;
  • successful lawsuits against employers are on the rise;
  • HR departments and those in D&I are welcoming the conversation!

Solutions are actually not that tricky and are really quite straightforward; BUT getting the right stakeholders around the table to agree on the solutions is proving difficult.  Let’s make it easy…

Join us, Bohemian HR Ltd & Wonder Health & Wellbeing, for one of our menopause related informal active networking sessions.

 Contact Bohemian HR Limited Ltd … we are ready and willing to support you.

 

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