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Navigating Menopause in the Workplace

Despite the government’s rejection of plans to make menopause a ‘protected characteristic’ under the Equality Act 2010 earlier this year, the current conversation around the topic has highlighted that there’s much more employers could – and should – be doing to improve menopause support in the workplace.

In May, The British Standards Institute issued a workplace standard on menstruation, menstrual health and menopause1, which was compiled with input from major employers, health and safety bodies, and charities and made recommendations from better training for line managers to access to individual cooling facilities.

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 (although it varies for each woman) and brings about physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that can impact a woman’s well-being. These changes can also have significant implications on work-based activities, for example, some women can find it difficult to concentrate.

According to a 2021 survey of 2,000 employees and 500 business owners by our client, Benenden Health, 23% of women who have been unwell as a result of the menopause have left jobs so it’s imperative employers look at ways they can support those going through the menopause or they could face losing experienced, highly talented individuals.

How can employers create a supportive work environment? 

Open Dialogue: According to the latest research by Benenden Health2, 44% of employers believe there’s still a stigma attached to the menopause.  Encouraging open conversation about menopause facilitates understanding and can help reduce this stigma. Training managers to recognise and accommodate menopause-related challenges will also help allow for this communication to take place more naturally in the workplace.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexible working hours, remote work options, or adjustments to accommodate symptoms can make a significant difference in a woman’s comfort and productivity.

Wellness Programmes: Encouraging women to prioritise self-care, mindfulness, and regular exercise can contribute to their well-being. Implementing workplace wellness initiatives that address the physical and emotional aspects of menopause can promote a healthier workplace. These programmes may include stress management techniques, exercise opportunities, and access to counselling services.

Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about menopause is essential to dispel misconceptions and foster a supportive culture. This can be facilitated through education sessions or workshops that inform both men and women about the symptoms, challenges and strategies for supporting menopausal employees.

Diversity in employee benefits: A flexible benefits platform, such as that offered by Zest, enables employers to implement a diverse range of benefits that can support employees of different ages and in all stages of their life.

Zest CEO Matt Russell comments: “Menopause is a significant life event that affects women both personally and professionally but by fostering a supportive and understanding workplace environment that incorporates relevant employee wellbeing benefits, employers can help women navigate this transition with confidence and empower them to continue thriving in their careers.” 

For more information about Zest’s benefit platform and how it can support organisations adopt practices to support women experiencing the menopause in the workplace, visit: www.zestbenefits.com

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