We’re not just talking about it; we’re putting in place the proper support.
Up until now, the menopause has been a much-hushed subject, but thanks to the coverage in the media by celebrities such as Davina McCall, it is now very much at the forefront of people’s minds and quite rightly so.
As an employer below the menopause age, you are unlikely to know the many side effects the menopause can cause:
• Itching skin – a feeling like hundreds of insects crawling over your skin called ‘formication.’
• Dizziness and fainting.
• Anxiety and depression.
• Feelings of rage.
You are likely to have had people in your organisation who can relate to the following experiences:
• Hiding in the toilets till the hot feeling subsides.
• Stumbling to remember a word in a meeting that they have used thousands of times.
• Worrying that urge incontinence will mean they might not make it through the zoom call.
• Exhaustion from being awake night after night.
• Feeling anxious about tasks that would previously have not been of any concern.
Hopefully, you don’t have former employees who felt they had to leave because they couldn’t cope with their symptoms and remain at work. This is a tragic loss for the workplace of all that talent, training and experience as well as a huge loss for the individuals who lost their status, pay and future career goals.
Many women don’t realise their symptoms are due to the perimenopause or menopause for quite some time (or even until after they pass) so that’s an added layer of complication. Hopefully, we will see this improve as knowledge spreads with the new climate of openness.
With symptoms that are so varied and hard to diagnose it is understandably difficult for employers to know what support to provide, without reaching out to experts for guidance. Fundamental to getting support in the workplace right is putting in place a workplace policy. The policy must be anchored around the basis that perimenopause and menopause symptoms are common and natural side effects of reaching a particular stage in life – not imagined or overplayed, not a reason for discrimination or shame. Those experiencing symptoms must be entitled to sick leave, flexibility and support. HR Revolution can help with the documenting of a menopause workplace policy which works for your industry and people.
We can work with you to create your bespoke policy ensuring it covers everything your business needs, from training, and recommended adjustments to signposting and beyond.
Your policy should be shared with the whole business, form the basis for any training requirements for managers and be reviewed regularly. It should let people know who the point of contact is in your organisation that can help with menopause-related queries and be sure to be clear on your business’ views when dealing with menopause. It is important to highlight your commitment to supporting staff and ensuring the prevention of any form of discrimination in the workplace.
Education needs to be at the heart of any policy. Not only do women and employers need further education about the menopause (and perimenopause) but so do husbands, partners, brothers and co-workers to understand the impact it can have on women and behave appropriately. Education enables everyone to understand how complex and impactful the menopause can be so they can empathise and offer the right support, without discrimination.
As with almost every workplace issue, creating channels of communication is absolutely vital. We spoke with Kathryn Colas, a menopause management expert and author of “How to Survive Menopause Without Losing Your Mind” and she writes:
“In my experience… introducing menopause into any conversation at work or at home, is the starting point. These conversations help to break down taboos and misunderstandings, bringing everyone into the conversation. Menopause is not a minority issue, nor should it be looked at in isolation.”
Building a corporate culture in which discussion of menopause issues is acceptable and encouraged is a positive step forward. Providing menopause groups or a ‘buddy’ system means those who are suffering from symptoms know there is someone they can reach out to in confidence. That person(s) must not only be trained to understand, empathise and advise but they should also be granted the power to authorise changes e.g., a move of a desk nearer to a window, providing a second uniform to change into, authorise extra breaks or provide a desk fan.
As a female-led organisation with a focus on people, we are delighted that no one in our team will be suffering in silence and that we can give them support and tools to stay with us and remain productive. We are determined to help other business owners and organisations navigate the scenarios that can arise in a respectful and forward-thinking organisation.
We would like to finish by saying what a step change it is for HR to be openly talking about perimenopause and menopause and we salute everyone involved in pushing the taboo that has surrounded it for far too long.
If you would like to discuss how we can help with your menopause policy, please get in touch and email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also have free resources you can use to provide awareness and support to your employees – click here to access your free guide and poster to Menopause in the workplace.