How do you support women coping with the Menopause in your organisation?

Vicki Ford Smith 2019

Vicki Ford-Smith
Consultant, Assurity Consulting
17th June 2021

I hadn’t really given the Menopause much thought, but as it affects every woman at some time in their life it's important that employers are aware of it and support their female employees in the workplace.

The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. Periods usually start to become less frequent over a few months or years before they stop altogether, sometimes they can stop suddenly. The main symptoms of Perimenopause (pre-Menopause) and Menopause include:

Perimenopause symptoms:

  • Period Changes
  • Hot flushes & Night Sweats
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Sleeping Problems
  • Brain Fog & Poor Concentration
  • Skin & Hair Changes
  • Mood Changes
  • Low Energy
  • Joint & Muscle Aches

 Menopause symptoms:

  • Sleeping Problems
  • Hot flushes & Night Sweats
  • Stress & Anxiety
  • Weight Gain
  • Low Energy
  • Brain Fog & Poor Concentration
  • Skin Changes
  • Mood Changes
  • Urinary Changes

In some cases, these can be severe symptoms. Perimenopause/Menopause normally start between the ages of 45-55, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline, but for some women it can start when they are a lot younger.

I was thinking that if I had a medical condition and I was experiencing some of these symptoms, I would speak to my line manager or a member of the HR team, but would I feel comfortable talking to them because I was going through the Menopause? But in occupations where a high level of concentration is needed or in safety critical roles, for example, a lack of sleep or good quality sleep could have a significant impact on someone’s work.

It would be really beneficial as an employer to know that if an employee was experiencing Menopausal symptoms, so that they could discuss the situation with the woman and put in place helpful measures so they could still work safely, or to help them with their wellbeing.

For women experiencing hot flushes, a simple solution could be to provide a fan or move desk location to one by the window. However, to do this the woman has to tell their employer about their symptoms, and the employer must be open to understanding the situation.

I would imagine that most employers would want to help their employees who are going through the Menopause, and support them whilst at work with any symptoms that they are experiencing especially for women who are suffering a significant impact from the symptoms.

I don’t think that I am going to change the world by writing this insight, but I would say that if you are a woman going through the Menopause and you are suffering, explain this to your employer. If you are an employer be receptive to your employee and talk openly about the Menopause and educate yourself to what a woman may be experiencing, and how you can support them.