By MARY BEIGHTON
MENOPAUSE is a natural part of every woman’s life, but it can be hard to manage the symptoms at work.
A lack of understanding and support in the workplace has resulted in around 900,000 women leaving their jobs, according to research from BUPA. Businesses that want to retain talented and experienced employees must implement policies and practices that address the issue and help women to continue in their roles.
Although the government recently rejected a move to make the menopause a protected characteristic in its own right, it has encouraged businesses to consider specific policies. These include adjustments to roles and/or working environments, keeping absences taken for menopause symptoms separate from regular sick leave, and providing access to specialist health advice.
A good place for a company to start is by signing the Menopause Workplace Pledge, which demonstrates understanding of the issue and a willingness to provide support.
Women over 50 are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace, but many pass up promotion, reduce their hours, and leave work due to challenging menopausal symptoms.
Part of the problem is stigma and embarrassment: Many women are unwilling to discuss menopause-related health problems with their line manager, or ask for the support or adjustments that they need.
While existing company policies relating to age, gender or disability will offer some support and protection, it needs to be easier to request, and access, help.
All line managers should be clear on company policy and practices, and be able to act when intervention is necessary.
It’s important to foster an environment in which employees can openly and comfortably engage in discussions about menopause. And it’s not a “women-only” issue — everyone in the workplace should be aware of the potential impact. Forums and literature can help to raise that level of awareness, and de-stigmatise the subject.
With correct workplace policies, the debilitating effects of the menopause can be made more manageable. Supporting those who suffer with extreme symptoms will improve their working experience — and enable their continued contribution to the business.
Mary Beighton is Head of People and Culture at Zuto