“Our mothers were largely silent about what happened to them as they passed through this midlife change. But a new generation of women has already started to break the wall of silence.” – Trisha Posner
In many environments, menopause is still considered a taboo subject. This means women experiencing symptoms of menopause may feel embarrassed or unable to disclose their menopausal status for fear of being stigmatised.
It is understood that a third of women experience severe symptoms of menopause, and in the context of work or the workplace, these symptoms can be much harder to manage. When a workplace is not equipped with a proper understanding of menopause, or willing to make changes to help women experiencing it, everyone is negatively impacted.
Some examples of difficulties experienced are:
- Low confidence
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor memory
- Low mood or depression
- Temperature fluctuations
There are many reasons that people experiencing menopause should be taken seriously and accommodated in the workplace. Of course, there is a moral obligation for employee welfare, and this is no exception. But unaddressed, menopause can create both legal and practical issues.
In the practical sense, when an employee is not accommodated for, an organisation may experience productivity problems, not only from the individual – the entire team may be at a disadvantage. This in turn can have an effect on the well-being of other employees as they may be overworked. When issues like menopause are not taken seriously, the negative connotations are relatively endless.
So how can workplaces deal with menopause?
- Accommodate. The most obvious way that workplaces can care for women experiencing menopause is by making accommodations that support their wellbeing. This may look like flexible working opportunities, uniform adjustments, offering fans and quiet workspaces, etc.
- Educate. In some workplaces, menopause can become the subject of office banter which risks perpetuating offensive and discriminatory stereotypes, which impacts the overall workplace culture as well as the suffering of employees at the end of the jokes. Along with steps to help and accommodate affected employees directly, ensuring the entire workforce understands menopause and how it impacts people is crucial.
Raising awareness and offering training is the best way to break the stigma in your workplace. Fostering a respectful culture is something all organisations should be striving for anyway, and the topic of menopause should be a part of that.
- Policy. Alongside education and training, workplaces must look to implement measures to support employees at all stages of menopause by ensuring practices are engrained into the workplace functions. This demonstrates a commitment from the organisation to their wellbeing, ensuring employees feel secure that they are supported.
Ultimately, advocating for menopausal employees and raising awareness for those around them is crucial to creating a culture where women are supported and those that don’t personally experience menopause understand the impact it can have.
Every organisation is different, and therefore consulting with your employees on their experiences is the best way to shape your decisions regarding their welfare. Ensuring there is an open channel of communication in place in your workplace is hugely important, not only for situations like this one, but for any.
Employees who feel they have safe and open opportunities to raise or discuss issues automatically feel more valued in their jobs, which improves employee wellbeing, and in turn staff retention, productivity and performance.
We have introduced an engaging, online interactive Menopause at Work E-Learning Course aimed at helping organisations improve employee awareness, knowledge and understanding of the menopause and its impact on people at work.
Trainer Bubble provide an extensive range of training resources in a variety of formats which can be explored here. Or, for more information, and to discuss the learning needs of your business, contact us and we’ll be happy to help.