Menopause in the workplace

Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace; however, many of these women may be struggling to manage the psychological and physiological changes their bodies are going through. The menopause can have a significant impact on the daily lives of people in the workplace and, in turn, have a negative impact on their performance and attendance at work. Some symptoms may last for several years and can include anxiety, reduced concentration, issues with memory, mood swings, sleep disturbance, hot flushes and heavy periods to name a few – all of which can be both physically and emotionally distressing. The psychological effects can also impact relationships in the workplace. For some, symptoms are so severe that they need to take time off or leave their job altogether, but feel unable to disclose their reasons for absence to their managers.

Organisations should treat the menopause as they would any other health issue, not only to break the stigma and taboo surrounding the menopause at work, but to create an inclusive environment where employees and managers feel able to discuss any reasonable adjustments that may be needed.

Talking about the menopause can break the taboo and help people get the support that they need. Provide information on how people experiencing the menopause can get the support they need. Promote awareness of the typical symptoms and the simple changes that can support menopausal people through the transition to all employees. Use gender-neutral language where possible.

Line managers play a vital role in supporting colleagues with menopausal symptoms. Educate managers about the menopause, who it can affect, and how they can support colleagues going through it. Give them adequate training and development to confidently manage attendance in their team – a robust yet flexible absence management framework that highlights the menopause as a potential long-term and fluctuating health condition will help managers take the right approach to suit individual circumstances. Train managers to take a proactive and positive approach to performance management that takes on board any health issues.

Often a few simple changes to the working environment can make a world of difference – even just talking about the menopause openly can reduce the impact of some symptoms and enable people to continue performing well in their roles.

Menopause shouldn’t be a taboo, and everyone should feel confident to have a conversation with their line manager, especially when they need guidance and advice. Open cultures need to be created where people feel comfortable to say they’re struggling with symptoms.

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At Apex HR, we believe in challenging the status quo when it comes to people at work. Outdated HR thinking and methods just won’t cut it in a rapidly changing and dynamic world. It is time for a new approach.