How employers can create menopause-friendly workplaces
Mary Bright | May 17, 2022
Time to read: 2 minutes
The menopause is experienced by staff in most workplaces. In fact, menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the workplace, revealed research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
Women experiencing the menopause are often at the peak of their skills and experience. Yet almost a quarter of women experiencing the menopause leave their jobs as a consequence, according to research by Benenden Health. Employers can play a vital role in changing this trend.
There are more than 30 physical and mental conditions that may be caused by menopause transition. Although, the societal taboo around the menopause is starting to lift, more needs to be done to help people who experience menopause symptoms to remain in work.
Almost three-quarters of women experiencing the menopause feel their symptoms may impact or have impacted their performance level, found a survey and accompanying white paper by Women in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure. A quarter of women said they had experienced severe or life-changing symptoms.
Conversations on menopause transition need to be normalised. Only 22% of women and trans-men currently experiencing the menopause disclose their status at work, found research conducted by the Fawcett Society working with Standard Chartered Bank and the Financial Services Skills Commission. Worries about social stigma were found to be a bigger blocker to disclosure than preferences for privacy.
Almost a quarter (24%) of organisations now provide dedicated menopause support, found a CIPD poll in April 2021 – up from just 9% in 2019. However, much more still needs to be done.
Slipping between the cracks?
For both genders, Generation X (people aged 41–56) feel less positive about their financial situation than any other generation, according to our Consumer Attitudes Report, Bringing retirement into focus: 2021.
Many people of this age find themselves sandwiched between caring for their senior parents and their children at the same time. They also feel least comfortable about their level of savings, and have done the least amount of retirement planning.
These challenges could compound the pressures some women feel while experiencing the menopause.
Indeed, the challenges faced by many Gen Xers seem particularly pronounced for women. Only 37% of Gen X women feel positive about their financial situation. And only 31% of Gen X women feel comfortable about their savings. And only 17% women Gen Xers claim to have done a lot of financial planning.
These scores were lower than for any other group. This suggests that female Gen Xers might be in need of particular financial guidance from their employers and the pension industry.
Employers can play a vital role in normalising conversations about the menopause and providing workplace support.
While introducing campaigns and initiatives among their workforce, employers may wish to note the following considerations:
a. The importance of open conversations about the menopause in the workplace to help break down the taboo and normalise the issue
b. The importance of training line managers, acknowledging that people are affected by the menopause in different ways, and where to signpost for further help
c. The importance of awareness-raising and action to combat bias and harassment
d. The need for workplace adjustments in addition to flexible working
e. The value of support groups and specialist support
f. Sick leave policy/procedure
g. Performance management
h. Flexible working rights
i. Returner programmes to include and highlight post-menopausal opportunities as well as post-maternity
Larger employers can also consider putting in place workplace awareness, training and support via Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP). A ‘champion’ point of contact can be put in place, particularly within smaller companies where EAP is not available.
Standard Life, and its parent company Phoenix Group, are committed to bringing about comprehensive change around menopause transition awareness as well as support in the key areas of: government policy, employer practice, wider societal and financial support recommendations.
You can read our full set of recommendations with respect to menopause and employment in the report, Menopause and Employment How to enable fulfilling working lives.