A manager’s guide to Menopause in the workplace

Whether you’re a line manager in a large business or the leader of a small company, chances are you employ or manage at least one woman. And most women will experience menopausal symptoms at some stage in their working life. But how confident do you think a member of your team would feel to talk to you about the menopause?

According to the NHS one in four menopausal women say they don’t get the support they need from their manager. It’s time for us to get educated!

Many women with menopausal symptoms suffer in silence at work. But the menopause needn’t be an awkward or embarrassing topic. Without the right support, some of the symptoms can make it difficult for women to achieve their full potential at work, but it shouldn’t mean that a woman needs to press pause on her working life. Often a few simple changes to the working environment can make a world of difference – even just talking about the menopause openly can reduce the impact of some symptoms and enable people to continue performing well in their roles.

What every manager needs to know about the menopause

Every manager should know what the menopause is, when it happens and how it can affect people.

What is it?

It’s a natural stage of life when a woman’s oestrogen levels decline and she stops having her menstrual cycle. As menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years, it is best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event. Hence why it is often described as ‘the change’.

When does it happen?

The menopause typically happens between age 45 and 55. But some women can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late fifties. The average age for a woman to undergo the menopause in the UK is 51, but around 1 in 100 can experience it before the age of 40.

What are the symptoms?

The menopause can cause a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms that can last for several years, some of which include; Memory loss, depression, brain fog, discomfort, anxiety and hot flushes, to name a few. Everyone’s experience is different. Symptoms can fluctuate and be felt to varying degrees. Experiencing any of the typical symptoms can pose a challenge for women as they go about their daily lives, including at work. Managers have an important role to play in ensuring that anyone experiencing menopausal symptoms gets the same support and understanding as if they had any other health issue.

Simple changes to your management style can make a world of difference:

- Building relationships based on trust, empathy and respect will make it easier for an

employee to feel comfortable about raising a health issue like the menopause.

- Regular and informal one-to-ones with members of your team can provide a forum for a conversation about any changes to someone’s health situation, including the menopause.

- Asking people how they are on a regular basis will help to create an open and inclusive culture, and encourage someone to raise any concerns.

- Don’t make assumptions – everyone is different, so take the lead from the individual.

Menopause has long been a ‘taboo’ subject in the working environment. It’s time to make a change in the workplace and support women going through the menopause in your business.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) Let’s talk menopause’ resource provides managers with tools on how to effectively support women going through the menopause at work. Take a look at their website for more information www.cipd.co.uk