Do employers need better education around menopause?

Generally speaking the EAP space, does consider menopause as an issue that should be managed in a holistic way by employers, but it has become apparent that more could definitely be done.

According to a recent survey conducted by a digital health company specializing in menopause support, 65% of women between the ages of 40 and 60 feel that their menopause needs are overlooked by their employers.

This lack of attention to menopause has been shown to lead to decreased productivity and increased medical costs for organizations which is of course a concern.

In fact, it is estimated that employers experience a $26.6 billion loss each year due to decreased productivity and increased medical costs associated with menopause. As a result, there is certainly more employers could be doing, both to support their employees and create more menopause friendly workspaces to avoid the lost productivity.

Breaking the Silence: Opening Up Conversations about Menopause

One of the key issues when it comes to addressing menopause at work, is the lack of open conversations on the matter. Several charities have suggested that conversations around menopause need to be started much earlier and managers should be trained to look for signs and symptoms of menopause whilst creating a safe space for discussion and support.

Beyond Hot Flashes: Understanding the Full Spectrum of Menopause Symptoms

Contrary to popular belief menopause is about a lot more than just about hot flashes. Perhaps the bigger issue in the work place is sleeplessness, brain fog and even depression. These can severely impact performance and it’s important for employers to recognize the signs of medical issues before simply scolding a drop in performance. This is essential to ensure the well being of female employees.

The Rise of Menopause-Friendly Workplaces

Here in the US we could learn a lot from the case studies across the pond, with the UK leading the way in menopause friendly workspaces.

Embracing Change: The UK's Menopause-Friendly Movement

In recent years, the concept of "menopause-friendly workplaces" has gained momentum, starting in the United Kingdom. Over 50 British organizations, including mega corporations like HSBC and Unilever have been certified as "menopause-friendly" through an accreditation developed by Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. This accreditation recognizes organizations that prioritize menopause education and make a strong effort for physical accommodations and flexible schedules to assist menopausal employees.

Spreading Awareness: Menopause Advocacy in the United States

The menopause-friendly movement is now making its way to the United States although we are quite far behind. With New York City leading the charge. New York City Mayor Eric Adams has committed to creating more menopause-friendly workplaces through improved policies and building modifications, although the plans of how to do so are still a bit up in the air.

That said, even it being part of the political conversation is a shift that reflects a growing recognition for supporting women during the menopause.

The Business Case for Menopause Support

This is perhaps the most important bit if you’re reading this article as an employer or employee assistance practicitioner. As employers have an awful lot to gain by providing menopause support.  Recent studies suggest that 60% of women above the age of 40 are considering leaving their jobs due to the lack of support around menopause.

This can lead to a senior talent drain and severely hinder growth.

Strategies for Creating Menopause-Friendly Workplaces

Education and Training: Tackling the Stigma

Education is the first step towards creating a menopause friendly workplace. Employers should provide comprehensive education about menopause to all employees regardless of gender, with it arguably being more important for men, who often know very little about it. This can include sharing information on company websites, conducting training sessions, and promoting open conversations about menopause. By breaking the silence and reducing the stigma surrounding menopause, employers can create a more supportive environment for menopausal employees.

Appointing Menopause Champions

To further support menopausal employees, organizations can appoint "menopause champions" within their ranks. These champions can be individuals who are willing to openly discuss menopause and provide support to their colleagues. The presence of high-ranking menopause champions sends a powerful message to the entire organization that menopause is a priority and should be treated with empathy and understanding.

Access to Menopause-Specific Treatment

Employers can also facilitate access to menopause-specific treatment options for their employees. This can involve contracting with companies that provide virtual medical care for menopause-related symptoms, such as Maven, Midday, and Peppy Health. By offering these resources, employers empower women to seek the necessary care and support to manage their menopause symptoms effectively.

Physical Accommodations and Flexible Schedules

Physical accommodations can greatly improve the well-being and comfort of menopausal employees. Employers can consider providing desk fans, allowing modifications to uniforms for better breathability, and offering flexible schedules to accommodate menopause-related challenges. These adjustments demonstrate a commitment to supporting employees through this transitional phase and can contribute to a more positive and productive work environment.

So, Should Employers do More for Menopause?

From a business case it seems to be so, especially if you want to avoid a talent drain. Ultimately losing your most senior female team members due to poor menopause support, only for them to go to a competitor the second they’re no longer struggling isn’t really ideal for any business.

By prioritizing menopause education, awareness, and support, employers can create a more inclusive and productive work environment for their female employees and not only retain talent for their own benefit, but deliver better overall well being for their staff.

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