Menopause and the workplace: we can help your business start the conversation

There has been a huge shift in the conversation around menopause over the last few years and important steps have been taken to normalise a life stage that every woman experiences.

Research shows that symptoms linked to menopause have a significant impact on women’s working lives and, with women over 50 the fastest-growing demographic in the UK’s workforce, this is undeniably a workplace issue.

Post-pandemic, companies are keen to get back to business as usual and, understandably, employees’ health and wellbeing are at the top of the agenda. If your business hasn’t addressed it already, now is a great time to start a conversation around menopause and explore the practical steps you can take to support female staff experiencing this transition at work.

Most women experience menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. Over 80% experience symptoms such as headaches, sleeplessness, memory loss, anxiety, depression and stiff joints – a list that goes far beyond the stereotypical hot flushes. Research by the CIPD and Bupa suggests that women find these symptoms most difficult to manage in the workplace, with half of those surveyed saying they struggle to cope at work and their productivity, attendance, working relationships and career progression have suffered.

Although menopause symptoms can last for several years and lead some women to leave their jobs altogether, the research also shows that women do not talk about what they’re experiencing at work, either through lack of opportunity, embarrassment or fear of discrimination.

As well as exacting a heavy toll on female employees’ health and careers, this also has a negative effect on a business’s ability to retain and develop valuable female talent. This is compounded by the fact that menopause coincides with a point in their careers when many women are at the peak of their skills and experience.

Ensuring you have the right support in place for your staff is, then, a win-win situation. This is where Successful Mums Career Academy can help. We have secured funding from the London Mayor to help employers embrace flexibility and diversity by including parents in their workforce. One of the central pillars of this support is a clear and accessible menopause policy, which can be offered free of charge and tailored to your business.

Our menopause policy helps employers raise awareness of the challenges menopause can bring and create a culture of understanding and openness, where women will feel their concerns are being listened to and their health and wellbeing are taken seriously. It focuses on helping women remain in work, feel supported, reduce absence due to symptoms of menopause and achieve their potential, and features a toolkit of straightforward actions to help women thrive in your workplace. 

Many of these actions can be carried out at little or no cost but can ensure that work is manageable for women experiencing menopause and does not exacerbate their symptoms. They range from reasonable adjustments to workloads, working patterns or workstations, to training line managers to positively and sensitively respond when someone needs support.

We recently worked with award-winning agency White Label Creative, in part helping to implement their first menopause policy. Managing director Jo Gumb described the move as promoting fairness and inclusivity at White Label, providing a framework for achieving its objectives and helping the business grow. “We are demonstrating to existing and potential employees that we are a compassionate and flexible employer, willing to adapt and embrace new modes of thinking,” she said.

Simply being able to talk about menopause can make a huge difference to women going through this natural transition. Putting a menopause policy in place goes further: reinforcing your commitment to employees’ health and wellbeing, ensuring women achieve their full potential within your organisation, and strengthening your inclusivity agenda as your business moves forward.

To find out more about the free support we offer through our GLA Parenting Project (funded by the London Mayor), which also includes recruitment support and accredited training for existing staff, please contact jane@successfulmums.co.uk