Menopause: all women go through it, but it is not widely discussed - especially in the workplace. Many feel embarrassed and try to hide their symptoms, which can cause further problems both at work and at home. As an employer, there are many things you can do to support your employees through what can be an uncomfortable and stressful time.
It can manifest both physically and mentally; in fact, up to a third of women will experience severe menopausal symptoms that affect their quality of life. These difficulties don’t disappear when they walk through the doors to their workplace at 9 am on Monday.
There are different stages and types of menopause, all of which can affect multiple people – symptoms can fluctuate from person to person. They can be temporary, long-lasting, and unpredictable.
Some report symptoms like poor concentration, shorter memory, feelings of depression, lacking confidence or tiredness and fatigue. All these things are likely to have implications on employees’ professional lives.
Menopause might be affecting your colleagues without you even knowing about it. Persistent stigma remains a barrier to disclosure and prevents access to support, which can, in turn, impact employees' health, wellbeing and productivity.
It is your duty as an employer to eradicate stigma in your workplace. You can do this by creating an open, honest dialogue with your employees - they should feel that they can come to you and discuss their problems without fear of judgement. If they don’t, it can have detrimental consequences for colleagues, family members and partners who may be employees too.
So, what practical steps can you take to understand and meet the needs of your employees?
Develop a workplace policy around menopause, and incorporate this into existing policies where appropriate to demonstrate your commitment to de-stigmatising the issue and highlighting available support.
Regular health and safety risk assessments will ensure that work-based duties do not worsen your employees' symptoms. These assessments will also enable you to make adjustments to help staff manage symptoms.
You could arrange training for line managers on topics like the nature of menopausal symptoms, how work might impact individuals, how to handle conversations fairly and sensitively, or reviewing the necessary support.
Introduce menopause and wellbeing champions, who will be the go-to people for advice and support.
If you are in need of impartial, honest advice to guide you through the policy-implementation process or have any questions about supporting menopausal employees in the best way possible, I can help. Contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website: www.sarahbuxtonlaw.com.