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The most effective approaches when it comes to providing menopausal support

Today’s employers are putting more resources into employee benefits in an attempt to stay ahead of competitors. According to Zest’s research, half (48%) of employers have boosted investment in their benefits package over the last 12 months in response to a challenging economic climate.

Shifting priorities amongst prospective employees are fueling this trend. Demand for flexible working (48%) is now the biggest draw, closely followed by salary (46%) and better benefits packages (43%).

Our research also reveals 83% of businesses in the UK have reported a rise in employees requesting more health and wellbeing benefits. This should perhaps come as no surprise as NHS wait times hit a record high.

One area under the spotlight is menopausal support.

Earlier this year, the BSI introduced a new standard around menstruation and menopause, BS 30416, which encourages UK workplaces to adopt policies that support workers who suffer as a result of the two. The standard suggests practical recommendations for workplace adjustments, and comes after research from the Fawcett Society found 10% of those experiencing menopause left work due to symptoms including dizziness, insomnia, and joint stiffness.

Starting an important conversation

To coincide with World Menopause Day, I had the pleasure of hosting a webinar that brought together a panel of experts to consider how employers can best tackle this issue.

The webinar highlighted that high impact, low-cost benefits can sometimes be the most effective. So what can employers do to get this important conversation started?

Coffee mornings can work well. They are quick and easy to arrange and don’t need to cost a lot of money. They are a great way to initiate conversation, allow people to share advice and tips, and build morale across the team. During the webinar,  one of our panelists shared how they had set up a ‘menopause café’ as a first step to meeting workplace needs.

HR and line managers don’t need to be the experts, they simply need to be open, listen, and direct women to such resources, which can be further promoted through company channels, such as an intranet site, Slack or their benefits portal. These channels can also highlight external resources, like Davina McCall’s book on the topic, ‘Menopausing: The Positive Roadmap to Your Second Spring’. Written in partnership with her doctor, it’s an informative and helpful read.

Taking it to the next level

What about employers keen to go a step further, and move beyond these initial conversations?

They can signpost their employees to the growing number of external solutions, such as Adora Digital Health, who were one of the panelists on our webinar. Adora provides access to trusted health experts and a digital companion to ensure that every woman is guided and supported through her unique menopause journey.

Such solutions can also be directly integrated into a company’s benefits package, allowing the employer to comprehensively implement the BSI standard. One of our partners, Teva, is already doing this. By adding details of its Bupa Menopause Plan to the Your Choice benefits portal provided by Zest, Teva is enabling its employees to receive targeted communications to both flag and explain this benefit.

Employee benefits technology is crucial in supporting what employers are offering to tackle menopausal issues. Even the most cost-effective benefits can be incredibly successful if they effectively meet the needs of employees on a personal level.

Personalisation is vital. Our research reveals 65% of employees would access their benefits more if they were better suited to their individual needs. However, just 36% of businesses say that offering such tailored benefits is a priority, dropping to 19% for the smallest businesses. This needs to change, and fast.

Strong, two-way communications channels can ensure the right benefits are reaching the right employees. At present, only 49% of employees know exactly what benefits their employer offers, and just 33% use the full range available to them. Without knowing what the requirements of their employees are, how can organisations ensure they’re truly supporting them?

Companies have to make sure they get it right, with 43% of employees saying the quality of their benefits package has an impact on their morale, rising to 55% of 18-34 year-olds. Over half (54%) would leave their job if another company offered them a better benefits package.

Keeping a close eye on engagement levels

Keeping the lines of communication open is therefore important both before launching a new benefits platform, but also once it’s up and running, so the employer can continue to serve the evolving needs of employees.

Employers also need to consider engagement – ensuring a platform has higher engagement rates amongst employees is key to boosting value for money. Whilst engagement rates for most benefits platforms sit around 40-50%, Zest’s partners typically see up to 90% engagement – a figure driven by the simplicity of our platform and the fact that offered benefits are more likely to be those that appeal to the specific demographics of the employee base.

Flexible and personalised support strategies are essential in building a more holistic approach to improving the modern employee experience. A new menopause and menstruation standard – and the right technology to support it – will not only provide much-needed support for a group of employees long overlooked, but will also boost the number of women remaining in the workplace. And that’s crucial amidst a cost of living crisis.

Clare Reynolds, Zest

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