Menopause often affects women in their 40s and 50s. It’s a natural process — but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy phase to go through. As the menopause signifies the end of your menstrual cycles, it comes with a host of physical and emotional systems, some of which can be difficult to contend with.
If you’re an employer with female employees (especially those over the age of 40), it’s important to be aware of the challenges they might face in the workplace.
Read on to learn more about menopause in the workplace so you’re in a position to make valuable changes and adjustments for any employee going through this life stage.
People going through menopause generally experience at least a few of the following symptoms:
As these can affect how you feel in day-to-day life, it can also impact your wellbeing at work. It’s essential that employers know how to support those going through menopause in the workplace.
According to the Faculty Of Occupational Medicine (FOM) nearly eight out of 10 menopausal women are in work, with three-quarters of them experiencing menopause symptoms. As the average age to experience menopause is 51, and the retirement age in the UK is 66 for both men and women, the amount of people dealing with menopause in the workplace is unsurprising.
It’s also important to note that while menopause tends to hit at the 40 to 50-year age mark, physical changes can begin before the final menstrual period. This transition period is called perimenopause and it can last from four to eight years. As changes in the body also take place during this time, you might have employees experiencing some symptoms at a much younger age. These symptoms can be similar to those of the menopause — like hot flushes and sleep problems.
Menopause isn’t a disease or medical condition; it is the natural end of having periods for women, triggered by changes in their hormone levels. It’s a normal life event that women have to deal with at some stage in their life.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy, pain-free, or stress-free time in life. Not only can menopause be physically taxing, but it can also be mentally and emotionally tough. It marks a new chapter in life for many, and some people find it hard to adjust to knowing they have reached this point in time.
Menopause can also increase the risk for certain health conditions, like heart disease and osteoporosis. It’s important to be aware that just because menopause isn’t a medical condition, it doesn’t mean your employees won’t be facing new health challenges.
The British Menopause Society found that 45% of women felt that menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their work. If you’re struggling with the symptoms of menopause while at work, you might want to make some workplace adjustments. For instance to your workstation set-up, the technology you use, or your uniform (if you’re experiencing hot flushes).
Employers can offer employees a workstation assessment to see the best ways to improve the health and wellbeing of menopausal employees in the workplace.
It’s up to you whether you want to tell your boss if you’re going through the menopause. As a deeply personal part of life, you might not feel comfortable sharing this with a boss you aren’t on close terms with.
Telling your boss could be a great thing, however. Especially if you want to make some changes at work, need to explain why you need some time off or need to go to some doctor's appointments. They should be understanding about what you’re going through and treat any information you share with them as confidential.
How stressful menopause is varies for each person. While some women don’t find their symptoms too apparent or troubling at all and feel relaxed at entering this new phase of life, others will have more severe physical symptoms or find the experience mentally difficult.
If you’re an employer and want to support your menopausal employees, offering wellbeing services at work could be a useful way to help them cope with any stress they are experiencing.
As low mood and a loss of motivation are symptoms of menopause, some women find it hard to stay focused at work. If you’re experiencing a lack of motivation, it might be useful to share the reason for this with your employer, so you can come up with a plan for helping you manage your work better, together.
If you’re an employer and a staff member confides in you about struggling with their menopause symptoms, it’s crucial to recognise that this isn’t their fault and it doesn’t mean they won’t be able to complete their job. They might just need a little extra support or changes to their work set-up to accommodate this part of their life.
At Workhappy, we offer a wide range of workstation and DSE assessments to improve the comfort and safety of desk-based workers. If you have employees going through the menopause, one of our workstation assessments will be able to highlight improvements that you could make to their set-up to help them feel healthy and happy while at work.
We provide online self-assessments, in-person DSE assessments, home worker assessments, and more. We also offer wellbeing services that will help you go above and beyond for your team. Feel free to get in touch with the Workhappy team to learn more about our services.