Menopause is a life event that will happen to every woman on the planet. It means you stop having periods, and during this time, you can experience a whole host of unwanted symptoms, from hot flushes and brain fog to electric shocks!
Due to my work with Miss Menopause, I’ve been made aware of over 70 possible symptoms and this is still going up! If you’re really lucky, you won’t have any other symptoms other than your periods ending, however, this is the exception rather than the rule. The majority of women aged 45 and above will encounter at least 5 symptoms on average. The shocking thing for most of us is that they can last 3-5 years. It’s not uncommon for women to have symptoms for 10 years. I’ve even met one lady in her 80’s who’s still having hot flushes!
Despite suffering from unpleasant symptoms that impact upon day to day life considerably, most women must carry on working through this life event. Sadly, adequate understanding and support seems to be lacking for working women. So what can be done?
GET PEOPLE TALKING
Depending on where you work, talking about such things might be shocking, embarrassing, or just not even considered. It’s estimated that only 3% of organisations are talking about the subject. So how many women do you have in your organisation? What’s the demographic? When has menopause ever been mentioned? You might think it doesn’t exist in your company but if you have women within the menopausal age range, you’re fooling yourself. Start asking what people know about the subject and make it ok to talk about menopause.
PROVIDE EDUCATION FOR EVERYONE
Policies and procedures are only as good as the people who use them. So making sure your HR and leadership communities are made aware of menopause and what they could do to support their people is vital. Be warned that without proper education and by understating the quality of conversations, you may be putting your organisation at risk. Providing reading materials is often not enough. Leaders are humans too and they may need forums to discuss their own fears to so they feel confident enough to broach the subject.
Educating your working women is just as important as no one has told them what to expect. Providing facts in a fun and engaging way which allows women to tell their stories is essential if you want to make a real difference. Most women will self-manage once they know how. If you really want to make your organisation a great place to work, you may consider offering education to the men too. Menopause affects everyone.
AUDIT YOUR CURRENT POLICIES
What have you already got in place? What else could you add to address the needs of women going through menopause? What reasonable adjustments might be made to help and support women? You don’t need to reinvent the wheel!
MAKE SURE YOU TRACK ABSENCE
It may sound like a basic thing, but you’d be surprised at the lack of proper reporting on this subject. 99% of organisations I’ve worked with don’t have a way of reporting on this reason for absence. How can you improve the quality of any return to work interviews lead by your managers?
KEEP THE DIALOGUE GOING
Introducing menopause conversations into your workplace isn’t a one-off event. It’s vital that you build this into all of your business processes. This might be though induction, intranet sites, and menopause support groups for your people and managers. As we have an ageing workforce, menopause in the workplace is here to stay, so let’s make it business as usual.
Raising awareness about the menopause among women, men, and employers is all about education and making it comfortable and acceptable for people to speak about it. Menopause is not a condition to be treated and cured, it’s a normal stage of life that every woman goes through. Helping people to realise this is my mission.
My training events are aimed at educating HR professionals, managers, and working women about the menopause in a fun, engaging, and informative way.