Find out from menopause specialists, Henpicked, why it's important to support menopause at work and how to turn your organisation into a menopause friendly place to work
For many years, menopause was something not to be discussed and women were left to struggle alone. Thankfully, it’s now far more widely talked about and more and more organisations are realising that not only can they support menopause in their workplace, they should.
Why? Well, for starters, menopausal women are the fastest-growing workplace demographic. The average age for a women to reach menopause is 51, although it can be earlier than this. And according to the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM), nearly 8 out of 10 of menopausal women are in work.
When we consider that three in four women experience symptoms and one in four severe symptoms, the picture starts to become clearer. Add the fact that four in ten women consider leaving their job due to menopause symptoms, and one in ten does actually leave, it becomes crystal clear. Offering support at work can benefit the individual and the organisation – it’s a win:win.
If you’re a manager, here’s how you can help ensure your organisation is a menopause friendly place to work:
Look at creating guidance or a policy. While it’s not law at the moment, there is a chance it will be at some point and it’s already covered under the Equality Act 2010 under the protected characteristics of sex, age and gender. Setting out an organisation’s support in clear documentation is an easy way for those seeking support to see what they can access. Importantly, make sure everyone across the whole company is aware of it - there’s no point creating a document nobody knows exists.
Get the conversations started. For some people, talking about menopause at work can feel a little strange. So getting it out in the open, creating an open culture where menopause can be readily discussed, is also key.
Get training for managers. Some might be very keen to support colleagues, but they need to know how to confidently talk about menopause and what support your company can offer.
Include HR, OH and other partners. You may have an Employee Assistance Programme, for example. All of these departments and functions can act as another layer of support for line managers if they need further advice. But these teams need training up too...
Look at what adjustments you could offer. For example, is it feasible to offer an extra uniform, or make some changes to the fabric? Is there plenty of ventilation in your workspace, or could you offer a desk fan? Clean toilet facilities and access to drinking water are also important considerations.
Here are some of the very compelling reasons for employers to introduce support:
The Demographic Case
We’ve already highlighted that menopausal women are a huge part of the UK’s workforce. We’re living for longer and working for longer, so it’s very likely a woman will be working during her menopause transition. Most symptoms stop once a woman has become postmenopausal, so support is often only needed for a relatively short period of time. It’s a win-win situation - staff who feel nurtured are more likely to want to stay with an organisation, while employers are retaining their talent.
The Business Case
Recruitment can be costly. In fact, according to a report by Oxford Economics, it can cost over £25,000 to replace a person earning £30,000, taking into account direct recruitment costs and bringing a new team member up to speed.
Many companies who introduce support also notice a decrease in sickness absence.
The Legal Case
Menopause is covered under the Equality Act 2010, under the protected characteristics of age, sex and disability. The Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 also puts a duty of care on employers to look after their employees.
We have already seen successful tribunals brought. Clearly this is not good for an organisation’s reputation. It’s also costly. The average costs of defending a tribunal case is £8,500, not including the cost of any awards or the claimant’s legal fees.
The Social Responsibility Case
Under the right circumstances, women will work for many years before their menopause, through their menopause transition and for many years afterwards. Offering support during the relatively short time they are likely to need it is simply the right thing to do. Supported, nurtured colleagues tend to be happier, more productive colleagues, too.
Becoming menopause friendly means you’re showing your employees that you’re putting their wellbeing centre stage. It means they know they’ll be supported if they need it during their menopause transition. And it means you’re demonstrating that you’re a responsible employer creating a workplace where people want to work... and stay.
This article was provided by Sally Leech – Director Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace