Are employers affected by menopause?
A quarter (26%) of employers think they are not affected by menopause issues according to research with companies saying they believe their organisation is not affected by any employee menopause-related health condition or have any employees who have gone through the menopause.
There may be some male-centric workplaces which are less likely to be touched by menopause but most employers will need to be prepared to help menopausal staff at some point. Even if employers are yet to be affected by menopause, it’s more than likely they will in the future and so it’s important that employers create an environment in which the menopause is openly discussed to make it easier for staff to seek help.
Menopause not defined by age alone
Employers should not make generalisations about ‘menopausal age’. Although the average age for menopause is 51, symptoms can start many years before and other factors, such as illness or surgery, can also be a catalyst. Employers should not make assumptions about which staff need menopause support based on age or appearance alone.
Thirty-two per cent of employers said that absence and sickness are the workplace menopause issues which have most affected their organisation.
This is followed by increased requests for flexible working (25%), an impact on productivity (23%), and impact on engagement (19%), requests about the working environment and work attire (18%), and resignation or poor retention of people with menopause-related health issues (18%).
Fastest growing demographic
Menopausal staff are the fastest growing demographic in the workforce so this issue is just too significant for employers to disregard either through misunderstanding, embarrassment or ignorance. Supporting staff through menopause is not just about doing the right thing or showing that an organisation cares, it makes business sense too if they want to retain their most experienced demographic.
Menopause support from senior staff
Although employees can prompt their employer to offer menopause support, to be fully embedded into company culture, it is important that the cause is championed at a senior level, beyond the HR department alone:
- 22% of employers said that their senior management team are involved in their organisation’s response to the issues of menopause in the workplace
- 19% said the board are involved
- 19% said the issue currently sits in the HR department
- 7% said there are certain individual that champion the cause
- 7% there is broad engagement across their organisation
Sixty-three per cent of employers agreed that if their organisation wants more women to reach senior or C-suite positions, they need to provide better menopause support in the workplace. (23% were ambivalent, 10% disagreed.)
The collective menopause voice is getting much louder. Whether that be from celebrities raising awareness of the symptoms and calling for improved GP support, or MPs taking action and reducing the cost of HRT prescriptions, the menopause is no longer the elephant in the room. This will no doubt have consequences for employers. Staff are much more likely to be having conversations with each other and they will want to know how their employer can support them. Not all employees will feel comfortable discussing such personal matters directly with their line manager or HR department which is why it is so important that employers open the discussion and make it clear what support is on offer and how it can be accessed.