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Menopause and the workplace: 9 tips for employers

Written by: on  February 7, 2012

This is a guest post from Angela Thorogood, a PhD student at the University of Bedfordshire – investigating the menopause and women’s experiences within the workplace.

Menopause in the workplace

The menopause is part of the aging process, is not a medical disease, and does not discriminate – it will affect every woman at some point.  We are now in a new world of work where women are working longer, incorporating the fourth generation. Nearly half of the UK workforce are women (47%), aged 50 years or older.  According to current research by Amanda Griffiths, an Occupational Health Psychologist from the University of Nottingham, found that many women struggled to cope with menopausal issues within their places of work as it is not a subject that is easily spoken about. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, tiredness, feelings of anxiety and depression can have a massive impact on occupational health.

It’s getting hot in here, so hot, I wanna take off all my clothes’… How many times have women experiencing menopausal symptoms at work felt embarrassed and humiliated, made excuses to leave or phoned in sick to escape their working environment?   In 2007, Menopause the Musical, written and produced by Jeanie Linders, is a celebration of women and The Change. It’s been reported that the musical was written after a bottle of wine and a hot flush.

To help develop a rich and diverse working culture within the workplace, research suggests that employers can help improve working conditions for women experiencing the menopause.

Menopause and the workplace – here are nine tips for employers

  1. Raising awareness of the menopause in an occupational setting through health promotion programmes and management awareness.
  2. Organising social support within the workplace.  This could include: informational packs, mentoring schemes, and lunch time support.
  3. Flexible working hours, job sharing, working from home.  Many women experience tiredness.
  4. Temperature of work environment can be an issue especially in refined spaces, fans and temperature controls could be implemented.
  5. A rest room where women can relax, just to have some space.
  6. Cold drinking water – many organisations do not provide this.
  7. Prioritise work/life balance and maintain firm boundaries in working life and non-working life.  Adopt buffer zones so that women feel in control more effectively.  Many menopausal women experiences feelings of ‘not coping.’ If work becomes an issue, encourage a specific time each day so that worries can be written down and then discarded.
  8. Remain hopeful and optimistic – women experiencing the menopause often go through different types of emotions such as anxiousness and depression. Remember these feelings do subside.  Encourage women to discuss how they feel as these feelings are very normal.
  9. Become a supportive manager – women are more likely to discuss menopausal issues with somebody they feel able to talk to. This also encourages organisational loyalty and less absenteeism which can only be good for all companies.

To access more tips and advice on approaching menopause in the workplace, please visit: http://www.thebms.org.uk/  AND  http://www.menopausematters.co.uk/

If you have any questions regarding the menopause for Angela, please leave them below.

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