We should all be talking about menopause at work

October 18th is World Menopause Day and Parental Choice are asking ‘How Menopause aware is your company?’ as we feel we should all be talking about menopause.

We have partnered with Sarah Davis, from Talking Menopause to help our clients raise awareness of menopause in the workplace through workshops and talks. She says: ‘We recognise a significant cultural shift is required in the workplace to openly discuss menopause. Currently women are afraid to speak up about their own symptoms and ask for help when they so desperately need it.’

Managing menopause at work

If you are experiencing symptoms, please take comfort that, even if you feel alone, you are not.

It is a serious issue considering every woman will go through the menopause. The average age range for menopause in the UK is 45-55 years old, and depending on demographics, this can represent a large percentage of a work force. Menopause symptoms are wide ranging from hot flushes and memory/concentration challenges to brain fog and severe anxiety with mental health issues. Every woman’s menopause experience is different, lasting for different periods of time.

The menopause is a natural life event, not an illness, around 80% of women in the UK have symptoms and 25% of these have severe symptoms. Over 75% of women do not realise their symptoms are due to the menopause. This can be a challenge for them, their colleagues and employers.

There are increasing numbers of menopausal women in work. Two thirds of women say they have no support at work meaning women choose to introduce their own reasonable adjustments such as avoiding promotion, taking a lesser role, reducing hours, 10% even leave work altogether. Results in recent Talking Menopause client surveys showed women were embarrassed and ashamed, saying they feel weak and have been mocked and made a joke of when discussing menopause at work.

Positive messaging from Talking Menopause

‘Is your organisation engaged in the menopause and are women given the confidence to be open about their menopausal challenges? Are the health, safety and wellbeing of menopausal employees effectively managed?

How can women be supported on their menopausal journey to ensure productively levels are managed and optimised for individuals, their colleagues and the organisation?

Menopause needs normalising, acknowledging and accepting across all levels of an organisation. It should not be treated in isolation.

A recent survey undertaken by West Midlands Police, found that over 80% of women admitted to their symptoms having affected them at work and over 85% agreed managers would benefit from menopausal training.

Women often tell us they are uncomfortable talking to managers about menopause, how they do not understand it and the impact and challenges it can bring. By having these conversations, myths can be busted and a positive and inclusive working culture developed.’

What can you do?

Talk about it! Normalise it!

If you are not naturally inclined to do this, speak to human resources in your organisation. They will be well positioned to help you create a plan to manage your day to day working environment, in addition to making your line manager aware and hopefully provide them with the strategies to manage you in a sensitive and effective manner. A desk fan for a women experiencing symptoms can go a long way for not a lot of effort.

If you manage any women who you suspect are experiencing symptoms, book in time for a coffee with them. Ask how you can help. Speak to HR and find out what they currently have in place to help your colleague and share with them. It is possible they are anxious about how the situation is affecting them at work, this your opportunity to offer the support they need to help them perform to the best of their abilities.

We would encourage you to work with internal networks. Is there a women’s network who would benefit from a menopause angle? Could you be the person to introduce it? You will soon notice you are not alone.

The more we talk about it, the more normal it will become and the more comfortable everyone will be in dealing with the symptoms and supporting each other.

If you feel your organisation would benefit from starting the conversation or creating training get in touch with Parental Choice.

Sarah Davies is Co-Founder & Director of Talking Menopause.


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