This week is being celebrated as a tipping point in the world of menopause with Woman’s Hour dedicating a whole week to exploring its impact on women’s work and relationships.
Great – I love that menopause is going mainstream – it’s been an invisible issue for too long.
Women are living longer, working longer and working in more senior positions so menopause is more relevant today than it was for previous generations. Yet men and younger women don’t want to talk or think about it and the women struggling with symptoms are often too embarrassed.
So thank you Woman’s Hour for your frank and illuminating discussions around menopause. Unfortunately many of the women you’re trying to reach won’t hear you.
75% of women of a menopausal age are in work at 10am not listening to Radio 4.
And featuring it on Woman’s Hour keeps it as a gender specific topic whereas ultimately what we want is for menopause to be a topic no one is afraid or embarrassed to talk about it.
This morning the discussion was focused on the impact of menopause in the workplace.
Yes employers need to understand why menopause is a problem for business and what they can do to improve the experience of female employees experiencing symptoms.
However, how many public or private sector HR and Wellbeing professionals have the opportunity to tune into morning radio shows?
So if you’re working in a forward thinking organization and don’t listen to mid morning radio here’s what I think you should know with regards to menopause in the workplace.
The symptoms will invariably affect the quality of work produced by your female employees experiencing menopause and impact their relationships with both managers and colleagues. Some common examples reported by many women include:
- Poor memory and concentration resulting in a drop in performance and productivity.
- Inability to recall facts, figures and names leading to a loss of confidence with colleagues and clients.
- Sleep disturbance which has been proven to effect memory, the ability to think strategically and manage moods.
- Mood swings can have impact on the wider team. A formerly engaging employee may become short tempered with colleagues and create discomfort in the group with whom she works or leads.
- Hot flushes aren’t just uncomfortable they are also embarrassing resulting in a reluctance to lead internal meetings or speak with clients for fear of visibly breaking into a sweat.
Essentially the symptoms can cause formerly highly competent women to become insecure, underperform and lack confidence in their ability to lead and manage client and colleague relationships.
So how should your organisation approach this sensitive but critical topic?
There are a number of informal, formal, short and long term solutions you can adopt ranging from inclusive risk assessments to ‘lunch and learn’ sessions to developing a menopause policy and accompanying training programme.
Crucially don’t single out older women for special treatment, instead offer support as part of your overall health and well being strategy.
For further information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and request a copy of my White Paper ‘Managing Menopause in the Workplace’