Menopause is an extremely sensitive and pivotal phase of a woman’s life, where she won’t just face several physical symptoms but also involves mental and emotional turmoil. At this juncture of life, a woman not only needs the support of her kin but also of people whom she meets and associates with daily.
More specifically, we are referring to workplace support. The more empathetic people are, the better it will help women sail smoothly through the phase when transitioning into menopause. So, let’s look into the various aspects that should be considered to make one’s workplace menopause-friendly.
The Preconceived Notions About Menopause in Workplaces
Several employers could be of the notion that people in their menopause aren’t working anymore. That’s a misconception. The average age for a woman to enter the menopause transition or perimenopause phase is 40-44. Whereas the time frame for menopause is between 45 and 55 years, 51 being the average age in the United States.
That means many female employees working in a particular organization are either in the phase around menopause or have already entered menopause. Moreover, suppose many female employees in the office are in the menopausal age group. In that case, some might be fine with not too many symptoms. While a few could go through severe symptoms to the extent that it could also take a toll on their daily living and work life. So, comparing one woman to another regarding their symptoms isn’t the right thing to do. No two women will go through the same experience or symptoms during menopause.
It is of utmost importance for employers to take care of their employees and show more empathy; otherwise, it could result in a significant loss for their organization. Several researchers have mentioned that more than a million women were compelled to quit their jobs as managing the menopausal symptoms at work was troublesome for them (1). This resulted in a drain of their talent and even led to a decline in productivity for businesses.
5 Tips to Make the Workplace Menopause-Friendly
As per data and statistics available worldwide, it has been observed that most women find it difficult to cope with their jobs during menopause.
In a survey done on around 1,000 people in the menopausal transition and menopause phase, it was seen that the majority, around 79% of the females, mentioned that it was challenging to work during menopause. Moreover, many even said that their productivity dipped, and they lost a significant amount of their work time, totaling around 40 hours. Around 59% even said they refrained from revealing the main reason behind their nonproductive hours. Many women are even worried about the security of their jobs.
Considering all the hassles and troubles women face in their workplace in menopause, it is essential to maintain a peaceful ambiance there. This way, women will feel more secure and not think of quitting their jobs. Let’s take a look at some of the tips.
1. Revision of Absentee Policies
Studies and research have shown that many women had to take some days off since their menopausal symptoms prevented them from coming to work. During the perimenopause and menopause stages, one could go through many things.
If it’s hot flashes and night sweats that have kept someone awake at night, they may find it difficult to attend work the next day. In the perimenopause stage, bleeding becomes irregular, heavy in some months, and light in some. Concentrating on your work could be troublesome when your flow is heavy.
A British survey conducted on 4014 women in the United Kingdom aged 45-55 years highlighted a few essential points.
- 1 in 10 women left their jobs because they could not bear the severity of the symptoms.
- Around 14% of the women lessened their work hours. Another 14% shifted to a part-time work mode.
- 8% of the menopausal women refrained from applying for a promotion.
- Around 80% of the women reported working in companies without menopause protocols.
- About 44% of the surveyed individuals said that the symptoms of menopause affected their work quality. 52% of the women mentioned losing confidence, while 61% said losing motivation.
So, these findings make it quite clear that workplaces should take initiatives on their end to make sure menopausal women can continue their jobs and, at the same time, save themselves from job-related insecurities.
It’s time that organizations renewed their leave policies and added that menopause is one of the legitimate causes for women to take leave. Employees should be permitted to work from home in flexible shifts when coming to work becomes challenging since the symptoms aggravate. The employees must even be notified of these alterations.
2. Making the Employees’ Workspace More Comfortable
In menopause, women face many symptoms that often hamper their daily living. Some of the most significant ones are hot flashes and night sweats. It would help if the organizations made adequate arrangements in their workspace to make things easier and more comfortable for women on the brink of menopause or already in their menopause.
- They must ensure that the air conditioners work fine and cover all the office sections.
- Keep additional fans near the workstation of the employees, especially females. If anyone has had an episode of hot flashes, then sitting close to the fan will provide relief.
- Make sure that cold water is available all the time.
- Also, offices could arrange a well-being room where the women could spend some time alone, if needed, to gather themselves after an episode of hot flashes or face any other discomfort.
- If the employees have to wear uniforms, ensure it is loose-fitting with breathable and natural fabrics. Tight-fitting clothing made of artificial fibers can worsen hot flashes.
- Ensure sufficient toilets for female employees so they won’t have to wait in the queue and face discomfort during an emergency. If your office has ten floors, each floor must be equipped with a female washroom. This way, one wouldn’t have to go to the other floor to access the washrooms.
- Arranging for yoga, mindfulness, or guided meditation classes in the office once a week will be helpful for everyone, irrespective of gender.
- Providing lockers or cabinets for women to store a set of clothes will help. This will be useful when they have bled a lot and need to change.
3. Encourage Open and Free Communication
It would help when you encourage free discussion and communication on menopause. One shouldn’t feel embarrassed to talk about menopause or consider it a taboo. You could suggest your employer initiate talks through seminars, presentations, flyers, online videos, etc. It will be better and more helpful if an outside speaker is brought to the organization to discuss menopause and its ordeals. When this happens, other employees will also be able to talk about their difficulties and how it is taking a toll on their work.
You could even keep one day a week to discuss different health issues. Do not miss out on including some of the common problems women face. Do keep sessions on menopause, and make sure to highlight the symptoms women may face. This will help create awareness.
The discussion shouldn’t just be meant for women over 40. Everyone should participate – including male managers, male colleagues, and young women. Menopause isn’t the problem of just women facing it. Everything is interlinked. When one’s productivity dips, the entire organization gets affected. It is more of a workplace issue than an individual’s concern.
Organizations could pick up special days like the 18th of October, which is World Menopause Day, to spread awareness.
4. Create Support Groups
Well, when in menopause, it is important to let women know that they aren’t alone. So, in an organization, many employees may have already experienced menopause.
Creating a support group would help them connect. Menopausal women may provide that extra support to women transitioning into it. They may even speak of their experience on how to balance work life and, at the same time, cope with the troublesome symptoms.
It will surely boost the confidence of those who have begun to experience symptoms and go through changes. Also, arranging for employee assistance programs may be of further help.
5. Make Medical Care Available
Besides a breakout room or a well-being area, a sick room in all organizations will help.
Alongside a first aid box, there should even be some of the basic amenities required by women. These include period products like tampons, pads, ice packs, and hot water bottles.
When all these are handy, women won’t have to stay home during their menses or leave their workstations quite often to buy the essentials.
Changes have been observed lately, and companies are tying up with companies offering virtual appointments for menopause care. Some apps that provide unlimited access to trained specialists for menopause care include Peppy Health, Midday, and Maven.
Yes, that would be a great idea. When there is a comprehensive health scheme, it will help menopausal women meet most of their medical emergencies like the costs of painkillers and even Hormone replacement therapies if advised to manage the symptoms.
When there are ample facilities at the workplace to support menopausal women, it will be easier for them. They would not have to think of leaving their jobs and would find their workplace much more secure.
Menopause has often been the reason why many women quit their jobs, just because they couldn’t shuffle between work and health. They did not find it comfortable to speak of their symptom or botherations with their line managers, which made things all the more miserable. So, when their workplace is menopause friendly, it will help make things better for women. They wouldn’t have to sacrifice their careers. At the same time, the organizations would also not incur losses upon doing away with their valuable employees.