Normalising the menopause
Hayley is a HR Technical Consultant at AdviserPlus. She is part of a team that not only influences the wider debate on the value of employment relations, but is also part of the business development team supporting new and existing clients with ways in which they can add great value to their organisations and its employees.
This month the team are shining the spotlight on the topic of Menopause.
Increasingly, our clients are looking at ways in which they can support members of their workforce who are going through the menopause. This is fantastic to see and really pleasing that the topic of menopause, and the impact it has on employees, is slowly starting to be talked about more; but this is just the beginning, and it feels like we still have a long way to go.
Menopause is still often perceived as a personal and private matter but for 1 in 6 women they will experience debilitating symptoms that will directly impact their workplace productivity through no fault of their own.
Alarming statistics surrounding menopause in the workplace
A survey conducted by Vodafone revealed that a third of employees kept their symptoms hidden at work, and 50% felt there was stigma around talking about the menopause.
In another survey, commissioned by childcare provider Koru Kids, almost a quarter of the 2000 women, aged between 45 and 67, were unhappy with their jobs due to a lack of support for their symptoms, and 63% reported their employer had no policies in place to support them. In research conducted by the independent Nuffield Heath group, 9 out of 10 women stated they felt unable to talk to managers at work.
These are alarming statistics, so it’s understandable why many employers have decided to act now to ensure their own employees don’t feel this way.
It’s also interesting to note that tribunal claims involving menopause-related discrimination are on the rise. While menopause discrimination is largely covered under three protected characteristics: age, sex and disability discrimination, there are understandably more calls for further legislation to require employers who haven’t already done so, to put a workplace menopause policy in place to protect women going through the menopause against discrimination at work. Last month, the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee were continuing their enquiry, looking at how menopause discrimination should be tackled and whether it should be considered a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
Educating managers is key
At AdviserPlus, we truly believe that educating managers and providing a workplace where employees feel comfortable discussing the impact that their symptoms may be having on their work, will make a huge positive difference to the lives of the approximate 13 million women in the UK who are either peri- or post-menopausal. By having the right guidance and policies in place employers can and will make a significant difference, not only to the engagement and morale of their workforce but to an employee’s physical and mental health and wellbeing as well.
It’s not expected that employers and managers should become medical experts, in fact people going through the menopause can experience a wide range of symptoms and each person’s situation will be different and unique to them. However, taking a holistic approach to a person’s wellbeing and empowering people to have those conversations early and regularly with their employer, can make sure that the right individual support is in place to enable them to not only stay in work but continue to thrive. By normalising the conversation employers can aim to create an environment where employees feel confident enough to raise issues about their symptoms and to seek adjustments at work if this would help them.
Normalise the conversation
Rather than wait, we encourage employers to join those who are taking a proactive stance by promoting a greater understanding of the menopause and seeking to eradicate any exclusionary or discriminatory practices. There are many ways employers can support their employees going through the menopause. Look out for our top 10 tips for supporting employees with the menopause coming soon.