The menopause is experienced by staff in most workplaces. In fact, more than seven million women in work today fall into the menopausal age bracket, meaning the impact on women and organisations is significant.
Women experiencing the menopause are often at the peak of their skills and experience.
Yet many women don’t receive support for their symptoms from their employer, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). As a result, 17% of people have considered leaving their job, and a further 6% have already quit.
Employers can play a vital role in changing this trend.
The impact of menopause
Women typically experience menopause between the ages 45 and 55. More than 30 physical and mental conditions can be caused by menopause transition. Although the taboo around the menopause is starting to lift, more needs to be done to help people who experience menopause symptoms to remain in work.
Almost three-quarters of women experiencing the menopause feel their symptoms may affect or have affected their performance level, found a study by Women in Hospitality, Travel & Leisure. A quarter said they had experienced severe or life-changing symptoms.
Conversations on menopause transition need to be normalised. Only 22% of women and trans men currently experiencing the menopause disclose their status at work, found research by the Fawcett Society. Worries about social stigma were a bigger blocker to disclosure than a preference for privacy.
In better news, 34% of women who experienced menopause symptoms said they felt supported by their employer in 2023, up from 24% in 2019, according to the CIPD’s research. However, much more still needs to be done.
Slipping between the cracks?
Our Retirement Voice 2023 report reveals that, for both genders, people aged 42–57 feel less positive about their financial situation than any other age group.
Many people in this generation could find themselves sandwiched between caring for ageing parents and their children at the same time.
For women, these challenges could coincide with menopause symptoms – which could compound the pressure.
What can employers do to support menopause in the workplace?
Employers can play a vital role in normalising conversations about the menopause and providing support.
When looking to introduce workplace campaigns and initiatives, employers could consider the following measures:
- Encourage open conversations about the menopause in the workplace to help break down the taboo and normalise the issue
- Improve understanding of menopause symptoms and the impact these have on women and the workplace
- Raise awareness and take action to combat bias and harassment
- Introduce workplace adjustments and flexible working that go beyond the minimum legal requirements
- Create or signpost to specialist support groups
- Review sick leave policies and performance management processes
- Introduce returner programmes to include and highlight post-menopausal opportunities, as well as post-maternity
Larger employers can also consider putting in place workplace awareness, training and support via Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP). A ‘champion’ point of contact can be put in place, particularly within smaller companies where an EAP is not available.
Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, and we’re committed to driving comprehensive change around menopause transition awareness, as well as support in the key areas of government policy, employer practice, and wider societal and financial support recommendations.
You can read our full set of recommendations around menopause and employment in the report, Menopause and Employment How to enable fulfilling working lives.