There are a myriad reasons employers can’t afford to ignore menopause in the workplace, including their social and legal requirements for employees’ welfare, ensuring inclusivity and equity, retaining senior talent and protecting the business bottom line.
The business case
On average, menopause age is between 45-55 with perimenopause starting years before that. This is when symptoms can start to be experienced and often coincides with people reaching the peak of their careers and in senior positions.
Our ageing population is seeing people working for longer with 3.5 million women aged 50-65 currently in the workplace.
Eight in 10 menopausal women are at work, yet one in four has said they’ve considered leaving or dialling down their career ambitions due to menopause symptoms.
The loss to an organisation of highly experienced and talented colleagues is bad enough. But the loss of income, pension contributions and a secure financial future can be devastating for individuals who find they can’t work through their menopause.
It’s neither difficult nor expensive for employers to put in place menopause awareness, education and support to hold onto their top talent. Experience shows that it’s far cheaper to retain talent within a business than it is to recruit and train new joiners. Not to mention the valuable halo effect for organisations that show they truly cares about their staff.
In fact, most of our employer members cite employee wellbeing, inclusivity and equity as their chief reasons for being menopause friendly.
Small changes – big impact
When it comes to being menopause friendly, small, inexpensive adjustments can quickly make a big impact including:
- Providing desk fans
- Ensuring access to fresh, cool water
- Allowing regular breaks and flexible working hours
- Providing free sanitary products and toiletries
- Relaxing dress codes/uniforms
- Setting up a quiet space
What does it mean to be ‘Menopause Friendly’?
A menopause friendly employer is one who is committed to educating and training staff and implementing changes to support women working through menopause.
This commitment goes beyond simply signing a pledge – which any one can do. Menopause Friendly employers commit to raising awareness, educating colleagues and making any necessary changes to physically improve and support the lived experience for those working through menopause.
Central to menopause friendly workplaces are knowledgeable executives, line managers and menopause champions, trained to have the confidence to help someone experiencing problems during menopause. Running alongside, menopause networks and access to resources ensure people feel psychologically safe and supported.
Starting the conversation
Every employer is unique and the way they start the menopause conversation will depend on their culture, nature of their work, their leadership style and physical workplace set up. Success lies in bespoke plans and policies that meet each organisation’s specific needs.
While these will differ from business to business, a great start point for all is to raise awareness by hosting an event, in person and/or online: training sessions and webinars work well to break the ice and start the conversation.
Once people start talking, employers can ask colleagues what’s getting in the way of them being their best at work and what can they do to help. Bringing the topic into the open not only shows what needs to be done but also reveals natural and passionate menopause advocates and champions within the business.
Armed with feedback and advocates, a bespoke menopause policy can be shaped and implemented with talks, drop-in sessions and engaging comms all key to keeping the drumbeat going.
Stand up and stand out
Having made a stand to implement their menopause in the workplace policy, employers who can demonstrate the impact of their work can go a step further and apply for the industry-recognised Menopause Friendly Accreditation. Assessed by an Independent Panel, they must demonstrate evidence of their effectiveness in six key areas, namely:
- Policies and practices
The Menopause Friendly Accreditation is the only accreditation that sets clear standards which must be met. As such, it is truly meaningful and considered as a mark of excellence for menopause in the workplace.
Since we introduced it two years ago, 51 organisations have achieved The Menopause Friendly Accreditation, ranging from small charities to international banking groups, football clubs to pharmaceutical giants, NHS trusts to high street retailers.
At its heart, being a Menopause Friendly employer is the right thing to do. Find out more here.
Deborah Garlick is CEO and founder of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and the Menopause Friendly Accreditation