World Menopause Day: Guidance for EmployersPosted in : HR Updates on 18 October 2021
World Menopause Day is held every year on the 18th of October, led by the International Menopause Society. The purpose of the day is to raise awareness on the menopause and support options for improving health and wellbeing. Think People Consulting want to help increase the level of awareness in the workplace on how menopause can affect people at work and provide practical guidance for employers on how to improve workplace environments for them.
What do Managers Need to Know about the Menopause?
The Menopause is a natural stage of life when a woman or non-binary person’s oestrogen levels decline, and they stops having periods. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when hormone balance starts to change. For some, this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties. Symptoms of the menopause vary greatly, but commonly include:
- Night sweats
- Hot flushes
- Memory loss
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
- Reduced concentration
- Heavy periods
Why Should Managers Learn About the Menopause?
- There are 3.5 million women over 50 in the workplace in the UK.
- In the UK, the average age for a person to go through menopause is 51.
- Around one in 100 women experience menopause before age 40.
- Symptoms of the menopause can last up to 10 years.
- Three out of four women experience symptoms, one in four can experience severe symptoms, which impact on their day-to-day life.
Providing Support for Employees Experiencing the Menopause
It’s important that employers recognise that some employees experiencing the menopause may find that related symptoms can impact on their health and wellbeing. It is beneficial for both the employee and employer that as much support as is reasonably practicable for individuals can be provided. It’s also vital employers recognise that the menopause is a very personal experience and therefore different levels and types of support and adjustments may be needed.
Much of the existing academic research indicates that some people are unwilling to discuss menopausal difficulties with their manager. By increasing awareness of what the menopause is and the impact it can have on work-life, the whole organisation can be educated on the topic and support colleagues experiencing menopause. A more considerate and accommodating workplace will improve attitudes towards work, employee engagement and ultimately commitment.
How Can Managers be Supportive?
The behaviour and the culture created by managers in their team is one of the biggest influences on an employee’s work experience. Having an attitude of care, respect, compassion, wisdom and kindness, is vital for managers to manage the health, wellbeing and engagement of their team. Managers have an important role to play in ensuring that anyone struggling with menopausal symptoms gets the same support and understanding as if they had any other health issue. The role of managers in supporting women experiencing menopause transition is crucial. Managers should:
- Educate themselves about the menopause and understand how to support employees experiencing symptoms.
- Focus on building relationships based on trust, empathy and respect. This will make it easier for an employee to feel comfortable about raising a health issue like the menopause.
- Hold regular and informal one-to-ones with members of your team. This can provide the forum for a conversation about any changes to someone’s health situation, including the menopause.
- Ensure regular risk assessments are conducted to minimise or where possible remove workplace risks for people experiencing menopausal symptoms.
- Ask people how they are on a regular basis. This will help to create an open and inclusive culture and encourage someone to raise any concerns.
- Don’t make assumptions – everyone is different, so take your lead from the individual.
The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.