5 Tips to Make the Workplace Menopause-Friendly

Last updated 12.15.2023 | by Sabrina Johnson | 10 Minutes Read

This article has been reviewed and fact checked by Dr. Karen Pike, a senior physician administrator and board-certified emergency room doctor actively working in northern California. Read more at our medical disclaimer page.


Menopause doesn’t just mark an end in your menstrual cycle. With it comes several physical changes as well that take an immense toll on your emotional well-being. It’s an extremely sensitive period, and at this juncture, a woman needs the support of her kin and the people she associates with daily. 

In this regard, a woman’s workplace cannot be ignored. That’s the place where she will need to be for the maximum amount of time in a day. If we were to go by statistics, in 2022, an average of 74.09 percent of the female population in the United States were employed. 

That’s quite a number. Of this percentage of women, it’s pretty evident that many will be of the menopausal age. So, cooperation and adjustment at the workplace are essential to help women continue their jobs stress-free and hassle-free. 

I am fortunate to have had understanding people at my workplace who helped me smoothly sail through the transition phase. The flexible work timings and leave policies helped me a great deal. How cooperative has your workplace been? Are you worried about juggling your stress issues and workplace? This article will be of immense help to you then. I have covered some essential tips to make one’s workplace menopause-friendly. Here we go.

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 transition phase or have experienced menopause already.

Also, no two women will have similar menopausal symptoms. For some, the transition years won’t be that harsh. For a few, their mid-40s and early 50s would be immensely troublesome, disrupting their daily lives. So, if you have many employees in your organization in the 40-50 age group, do not expect all of them to have similar physical fitness. You cannot judge them from that aspect.

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

5 Important Tips to Keep in Mind 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 women 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. In the initial years of transitioning into menopause, my productivity levels dipped as well due to my sleep issues. However, I got full support from my workplace and was eventually able to overcome the sleep problems.

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 has 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. It would happen to me as well. 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. On cycles where I would bleed heavily, coming to work was a challenge. I was fortunate to be allowed to work from home at flexible times during that phase.

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 employees’ workstations, 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. There was one in our office where I would often go when things got overwhelming. How can I miss out on the stress balls in the well-being room? Squeezing the balls time and again during moments of anxiety relieved me immensely.
  • 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. My sister’s workplace altered the uniform code from trousers to a maxi gown for women in their 40s. My sister benefitted greatly since she was frequently troubled with hot flashes. The body-fitting trousers would add to her discomfort.
  • 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. There was one in my workplace which was of great help to everyone.

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 organizations 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.

FAQs

Q. Should offices think of a comprehensive health scheme to support menopausal women?

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.

Q. How can a menopause-friendly workplace help women?

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. My workplace was menopause friendly, and that helped me to continue my job.

Conclusion

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.

Author

  • Sabrina Johnson

    Meet Sabrina Johnson, a compassionate author and a seasoned expert in Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a driving force behind Simply Menopause, where her extensive medical knowledge and empathetic nature come together to empower women in their menopausal journey. Sabrina offers culturally sensitive guidance and support through her approachable writing, making her a trusted friend on the path to menopause wellness.