The number of women aged 50 and above in the UK population is increasing, and with 1 in 8 of the British workforce being over 50, it is becoming more common that women will be affected by the menopause while working, and that other employees will be supporting family and friends experiencing the menopause.
Experiencing menopausal symptoms is common, with 1 in 3 woman experiencing severe symptoms that affect their work and 60% of menopausal women saying their symptoms have had a negative impact in their work. Equally, many women who take time off work due to menopause symptoms do not disclose this to their employer.
So how can you support your employees affected by menopause and menopausal symptoms? In this blog we will offer you advice on how to create a more supportive culture at work, as well as some practical steps that you can take to help those dealing with the menopause at work.
Make a statement
There are a few ways you can create a company culture that is supportive of women in menopause. Spreading awareness through days like World Menopause Day and mentioning it in your communications with your staff can help.
And having a good menopause policy that explains your approach and how employees affected by menopause can access support, is a great way to promote your approach across your organisation.
Then, any member of your team will be more aware of and sensitive to issues associated with menopause. This may help them feel comfortable having a conversation with an employee raising a menopause concern and prepared with information on how symptoms can affect a team member, and how to support a staff member if they raise a concern.
Open up conversations
It is vital that if your employees are struggling with menopausal symptoms, that they feel comfortable and confident enough to ask for support. Different employees will experience symptoms differently and so being able to listen and understand the impact in individual situations is important.
As the conversation surrounding menopause talk can still be stigmatised, it’s a good idea to reassure employees that any discussions about their health, work performance, or absence caused by the menopause will always remain confidential.
You can also encourage them to discuss these issues with people they feel most comfortable with, for example, a colleague they are close with. Often, it’s a good idea to specify in your menopause policy an alternative contact for people to approach, perhaps if they feel uncomfortable talking to their manager about it. This might be someone involved with occupational health, or an Employee Assistance Programme, if you have one. It could be another employee or someone from an outside agency – the important thing is that staff know where to find this information and who to contact. .
Offer practical support
There are a few ways that you can offer practical support in addition to someone sympathetic to talk to. In the same way that you would try to accommodate reasonable adjustments for employees with other sorts of health conditions or disabilities, you could discuss with your employee whether you can make any changes to their working pattern or their location that might help.
Even simple changes in the workplace can have a positive effect on work performance and general wellbeing.
This can include physical changes including moving desk to be closer to a window for fresh air or installing a water cooler in the office space. As hybrid working is becoming increasingly common in small businesses, could you offer home working for part of the week to members of staff who would feel more comfortable in their own space?
Manage sickness absence sensitively
As the menopause is a long-term condition and a health change that fluctuates regularly, there may be times when sickness absence is unavoidable. Dealing with this sensitively and sympathetically will be an important part of your understanding culture.
Do you have a menopause policy to support employees in your small business? Or need help with HR support to assist with policies like these? If you like what you’ve read here, get in touch on 0333 014 3888 or email email@example.com friendly, for more information about our expert HR services.
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