A House of Commons committee report published in July 2022 on ‘Menopause and the Workplace’ stated, “We know nothing about how women of different racial or ethnic origins might experience the conjunction between menopause and work. We know nothing about trans women. We know nothing about women who identify as anything other than heterosexual. We know nothing about women in the gig economy. Most of the research focusing on the workplace is about professional or managerial white, middle-class, non-disabled women.”
Menopause isn’t taboo, yet women and people still struggle with a lack of support in the workplace due to menopause symptoms. To address this issue, organisations need to increase awareness of the plight of women through this transition. However, it’s equally important to recognise that gender identity, age, and race cause menopause to affect each individual differently.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of menopause awareness at work and the need for an intersectional approach to menopause support. We’ll also provide tips for supporting people with menopause at work so that companies can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for people experiencing menopause.
The Importance of Menopause Awareness at Work
Menopause is a natural biological process that affects women and people differently. While menopause is a profoundly personal experience, it has significant implications for the workforce. Organisations need to increase awareness and support for women through this transition.
According to a recent CIPD survey, 73% of working women and people (aged 40 to 60) experience symptoms associated with menopause transition, with over half having missed work due to these symptoms. These symptoms can vary from person to person. Still, some of the most reported ones include mood swings, anxiety, depression, memory loss, panic attacks, loss of confidence, and reduced concentration.
Unfortunately, despite the prevalence of these symptoms, many people feel unsupported at work during this transition. The survey also found that 67% of respondents believe that the shift toward home and hybrid working will result in better management of their menopause symptoms. However, with more than 10% of people feeling discriminated against because of their menopausal symptoms, many women still struggle to advocate for themselves at work.
Did you know that approximately 17% of individuals have contemplated quitting their jobs due to insufficient support for menopause symptoms, with an additional 6% who already left their occupations? This is a significant loss of talent and experience for employers, which could negatively impact the economy.
It’s time for businesses to take menopause seriously and create an inclusive, supportive workplace that understands women’s and people’s health needs. However, in increasing awareness, companies must also address the unique needs of women and people from an intersectional approach.
Intersectional Approach to Menopause Support
Menopause is so highly personal and can vary so significantly from one individual to the next that companies must take an intersectional approach to menopause support. But what does this entail? An intersectional approach to menopause support means recognising that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the issues faced by people with a uterus. It involves understanding and addressing the unique challenges that people from different backgrounds may face, such as access to healthcare, cultural beliefs, and social stigma.
Everyone deserves to navigate this transition with dignity and respect. By taking an intersectional approach, companies can create a more inclusive and supportive environment for women and people experiencing menopause. In what ways can businesses incorporate this new approach into their operations?
Tips for Supporting People with Menopause at Work
As we’ve discussed, menopause symptoms can be so severe that they affect a woman’s work. The onus is on managers to create a supportive and inclusive environment for their staff going through menopause. The following are five ways to support women with menopause at work.
1) Create a Culture of Openness and Inclusivity
Trust, empathy, and respect are the foundation of all relationships, including those created at the workplace. One way to achieve this is by implementing one-to-one meetings with team members, which can serve as an informal platform for employees to discuss any issues or health changes they experience, including menopause.
2) Don’t Make Assumptions
Everyone is different; don’t make assumptions about what women and people going through menopause need. Have an open discussion with the individual and ask them how they feel and what support they need to help you understand their unique situation and provide the relevant support.
3) Offer Flexible Work Arrangements
Organisations should provide flexible work arrangements that cater to the needs of menopausal women and people. For example, they may need additional breaks during the day or leave work abruptly if their symptoms become too severe. By offering flexible working schedules, women can manage their symptoms efficiently and maintain their productivity at work.
4) Create a Comfortable Working Environment
Menopause can be physically draining to women and people at work. Make sure to create a comfortable working environment with temperature-controlled areas and restrooms with shower or washing facilities, if possible. These amenities can help women and people manage their symptoms and feel more at ease while at work.
5) Set Reasonable Timeframes for Improvement
For many people, menopausal symptoms can be debilitating and impact their work performance. In such cases, it’s in everyone’s best interest to have an open discussion and explore potential adjustments to help the individual perform to their full potential. Managers should approach this topic with empathy and provide constructive feedback and support.
How WorkSpa’s Holistic Approach to Menopause Awareness
Menopause can be a challenging and isolating experience for many women. WorkSpa is dedicated to utilising a holistic approach to menopause awareness to help organisations better understand and manage this transition period in the women’s lives within their company. We have created a menopause panel, ‘Your Menopause, Your Way’ which welcomes everyone to join the discussion to create a safe space where women and people can feel seen and heard and to empower and educate us all on how to support ourselves, colleagues and loved ones going through the transition. Our three leading experts will discuss their experiences, providing a non-biased, inclusive, holistic approach to supporting the mind and body. We will explore practical and sustainable solutions to help stress management, hormone metabolism, nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle choices that aid the process of menopause, as well as look at the collective experiences of partners, family members and colleagues.
SWAN – Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation, https://www.swanstudy.org/. Accessed 21 October 2023.
Garlick, Deborah. “CIPD Community.” CIPD Community, 27 March 2019, https://community.cipd.co.uk/cipd-blogs/b/voice_on/posts/why-menopause-in-the-workplace-ticks-all-the-hr-strategy-boxes. Accessed 21 October 2023.
“The menopause at work: guidance for line managers.” CIPD, https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/guides/menopause-people-manager-guidance/. Accessed 21 October 2023.
“Menopause in the workplace.” CIPD, 4 October 2023, https://www.cipd.org/en/knowledge/reports/menopause-workplace-experiences/. Accessed 21 October 2023.