World Menopause Day was established in 1984 by the World Health Organisation and the International Menopause Society (IMS) to raise awareness about Menopause and how it impacts women. Whilst menopause is a normal transition for women that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years, this change ushers in significant physiological and psychological changes that can be quite challenging and debilitating, typically occurring between the ages of 45 - 55, beginning with perimenopause.
These transitional years can span around four years, although some women may endure symptoms for an extended period.
Common Symptoms of Menopause and Perimenopause
Symptoms can include hot flushes, reduced concentration, mood changes, difficulty sleeping, muscle and joint stiffness, headaches, memory loss (brain fog), and a loss of confidence. Body composition and cardiovascular risk can also be affected.
Embracing a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and prioritising your mental well-being can play a crucial role in alleviating symptoms and ensuring your long-term well-being. Getting advice early can help reduce the impact perimenopause and menopause have on your health, relationships and work. Find out more here
Supporting Women in the Workplace
Whilst there are currently no laws specifically around menopause, employees have a legal right to be treated fairly under current Equality legislation. Employers cannot discriminate on any of the following grounds including age, gender reassignment, being married or in a civil partnership, being pregnant or on maternity leave, disability, race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex, or sexual orientation.
Everyone experiences menopause differently, and symptoms can fluctuate for each woman. Unfortunately, many women are reluctant to talk about it and instead suffer in silence for fear it may negatively affect them in the workplace.
💡The 2022 Menopause and the Workplace report by the Fawcett Society and Channel 4, which polled 4,000 women aged 45-55, found that 10% had left their job because of the symptoms of menopause. Whilst most recently, a 2023 CIPD report highlighted that two-thirds (67%) of those who experienced menopausal symptoms believe their symptoms have had a negative impact on them at work.
We've taken this as an opportunity to reflect on how menopause still affects women in the modern workplace, and what employers and/or colleagues can do to support them.
- Promote Understanding and Build Awareness
We encourage organisations to educate their employees about menopause and how it affects not only women but also partners, family, friends and work colleagues. Many forward-thinking organisations have now implemented a robust policy for employees, communicating how to find support and how to offer support to employees.
- Educate Your Managers
Ensure your Managers are familiar with how menopause can affect employees. Empathetic managers who have made themselves aware of the impact of menopause can go a long way in removing barriers and thereby enabling colleagues to continue to positively impact the workplace.
- Consider How to Support Your Employees
Possible solutions might include considering the dress code/uniforms, flexible working conditions including remote working, temperature control including adjusting air conditioning or offering a fan. At HR Duo, we offer an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) to our clients providing them with free, confidential counselling and comprehensive well-being support services including nutrition and fitness.
Creating an environment where women feel comfortable discussing their symptoms and needs can make a significant difference. Managers should be approachable and understanding, ready to make necessary adjustments to support women during menopause to ensure they feel valued, understood and supported.
By addressing menopause in an open and transparent manner, organisations can create a more supportive and inclusive workplace, helping women maintain their performance levels and reduce the potential for absenteeism.
Some additional resources