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January 18, 2024
|
5 mins to read

How to raise menopause awareness in the workplace

Find out how to raise menopause awareness in the workplace, and support your colleagues with six actionable tips.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Despite menopause being something that 100% of women will experience, it’s still not a common topic of conversation within the workplace.

If you’re looking to change this in your organisation, and raise menopause awareness among your people, we at Thrive have identified six tips to help you eradicate the taboo.

As an all-in-one Learning Management System for business with our own off-the-shelf learning content solution, we understand the impact of talking about important (but often neglected) topics. Despite the lack of recognition, menopause awareness is an occupational issue. It’s been found that 14 million working days are lost every year due to time taken off to alleviate menopause symptoms, and 70% of employees believe there is not enough information in their organisation to support those experiencing menopause.

We’ll dig into exactly how you can help in just a moment. But first, let’s discuss how menopause affects your colleagues, and why it’s so important that you know just how to support them.

Menopause in the workplace

As we mentioned at the top of this blog, 100% of women and those assigned female at birth will experience menopause at some point in their lives.

Menopause brings a broad range of symptoms, some of which directly impact work and some of which don’t. Even so, it’s important that you as an employer have an understanding of the full, complex experience in order to properly support your colleagues.

So, what exactly is the menopause?

Simply put, the menopause is what happens when a person’s periods stop. It typically happens in the late forties to early fifties, but early menopause and Premature Ovarian Insufficiency affect 5% and 1% of women, respectively.

Physical menopause symptoms can include night sweats, trouble sleeping, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches, while symptoms related to mental health can include mood swings, brain fog, anxiety and poor concentration.

How to raise menopause awareness and support your staff

As mentioned, some of these symptoms don’t have a direct impact on work, but others certainly do - so now that we’ve gone over the basics, how can employers go about being supportive and raising awareness?

Take the temperature

You won’t necessarily know whether there’s something you could be doing better unless you take the time to ask, so give your employees the opportunity to anonymously submit feedback about menopause awareness in your workplace.

You can use free tools like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey and Free Suggestion Box to garner employee sentiment, before translating that feedback into action.

Menopause training at every level

Now you’ve gauged how you’re already doing, how do you move forward?

You can’t effectively raise awareness of something you don’t understand. The first port of call for raising menopause awareness should be to undertake training. Here are a few resources to help you do just that:

  • We’d be remiss not to mention Thrive Content, our off-the-shelf content solution that offers learning materials on a broad range of topics. There are several resources on menopause awareness, perfect for managers and colleagues alike to get to grips with the complexities of the topic.
  • The Menopause Charity provides a full list of evidence-based fact sheets, designed to educate people about all aspects of menopause. These can be viewed as downloadable PDFs or webpages. They also offer poster packs to raise awareness about menopause, and their blog is packed with expert advice.
  • Daisy Network is a charity providing support to those diagnosed with POI (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, or premature menopause) and has a wealth of resources on the topic to help you support any colleagues who might be going through this.

As well as undertaking thorough training, why not harness a specific awareness day to create a campaign? Mark your calendars with these specific events to make the most of them, and time your training with a good cause:

  • International Women’s Day (8th March 2024)
  • National Women’s Health Week (12th - 15th May 2024)
  • Menopause Awareness Month (October 2024)
  • World Menopause Day (18th October 2024)

Become a Menopause-Friendly-Accredited employer

Once you have trained yourself and your people on the topic of menopause awareness, you can keep the momentum going by becoming a Menopause-Friendly-Accredited Employer.

By going through this process, you demonstrate to both potential and existing candidates that you are truly committed to raising awareness. You will also be equipped with resources like webinars, masterclasses, and policy and guidance documents, as well as the ability to connect to a community of fellow Menopause-Friendly-Accredited employers.  

Along with becoming Menopause-Friendly-Accredited, you can sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge to further demonstrate your support and commitment.

Talk about it

The easiest way to break down the stigma around a topic is to talk about it.

While it may not seem like a taboo subject to a lot of people - and it certainly shouldn’t be - the research suggests that, on the whole, we’re just not quite there yet. A study found that only 53% of women are comfortable discussing menopause. The topic came in last in terms of womens’ willingness to talk about it - being beaten out by topics like cancer, religion, sexuality, and politics.

This taboo has to end - but it’s not going to happen overnight, and in order to have the most impact, the conversations need to be facilitated in the right way.

Consider the following initiatives to help encourage communication about menopause awareness:

  • Menopause champion: This is a specific person within your company who is appointed as a go-to point of contact for anyone who needs help or support. They should be thoroughly trained on all aspects of menopause and understand how to facilitate these conversations. (Side note: This is not a substitute for training your line managers to have these conversations.)
  • Colleague network: A colleague network can be an invaluable asset for anyone who feels like they’re going through things alone, or simply needs some like-minded colleagues to talk to. Take a leaf out of Thrive customer Specsavers’ book, whose colleague network Menotalk unites anyone who wants to talk about menopause awareness - including a testimonial from a male colleague, who simply wanted more information in order to support his wife. This demonstrates how important these conversations are for everyone, regardless of gender or background.

Accommodate colleagues experiencing menopause

Moving on to arguably the most important point in this whole list: You must actually “walk the walk” when it comes to accommodating your colleagues.

Flexibility to attend appointments, frequent breaks, phased return after sick leave, and private spaces in the office all contribute towards a menopause-friendly workplace.

Along with “taking the temperature” of your own team as mentioned at the start of this blog, you can also take advantage of the research that has already been done. CIPD Research surveyed over 2,000 respondents who could be experiencing menopause transition, and found that the most helpful measures for colleagues experiencing menopausal symptoms are as follows:

  1. The ability to control the temperature
  2. Flexible working

When you see it laid out plainly like that, it is even more shocking that only 25% of respondents said their organisation offers the ability to control the temperature, with just 26% offering the ability to work flexibly.

The research also recommended “managing health and absence in a fair and flexible way” as an important aspect of accommodating menopausal colleagues.

For UK-based employers, you can explore the NHS’ official guidance.


Make sure your menopause awareness is inclusive

Conversations around menopause awareness tend to centre the experience of the cisgender woman. But the scope of people who will experience menopause is far wider than that, comprising transgender men and non-binary people amongst others.

Make sure that your inclusivity isn’t unintentionally exclusionary, and involve everyone in the conversation.

For more information on menopause inclusivity, we recommend The Queer Menopause.

Thanks for reading our guide to raising menopause awareness in the workplace. For more information on how Thrive can help you educate your teams on inclusivity, allyship and so much more, browse our off-the-shelf learning content solution Thrive Content.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.

January 18, 2024
|
5 mins to read

How to raise menopause awareness in the workplace

Find out how to raise menopause awareness in the workplace, and support your colleagues with six actionable tips.
Alex Mullen
Web Content Writer

Despite menopause being something that 100% of women will experience, it’s still not a common topic of conversation within the workplace.

If you’re looking to change this in your organisation, and raise menopause awareness among your people, we at Thrive have identified six tips to help you eradicate the taboo.

As an all-in-one Learning Management System for business with our own off-the-shelf learning content solution, we understand the impact of talking about important (but often neglected) topics. Despite the lack of recognition, menopause awareness is an occupational issue. It’s been found that 14 million working days are lost every year due to time taken off to alleviate menopause symptoms, and 70% of employees believe there is not enough information in their organisation to support those experiencing menopause.

We’ll dig into exactly how you can help in just a moment. But first, let’s discuss how menopause affects your colleagues, and why it’s so important that you know just how to support them.

Menopause in the workplace

As we mentioned at the top of this blog, 100% of women and those assigned female at birth will experience menopause at some point in their lives.

Menopause brings a broad range of symptoms, some of which directly impact work and some of which don’t. Even so, it’s important that you as an employer have an understanding of the full, complex experience in order to properly support your colleagues.

So, what exactly is the menopause?

Simply put, the menopause is what happens when a person’s periods stop. It typically happens in the late forties to early fifties, but early menopause and Premature Ovarian Insufficiency affect 5% and 1% of women, respectively.

Physical menopause symptoms can include night sweats, trouble sleeping, palpitations, dizziness, and headaches, while symptoms related to mental health can include mood swings, brain fog, anxiety and poor concentration.

How to raise menopause awareness and support your staff

As mentioned, some of these symptoms don’t have a direct impact on work, but others certainly do - so now that we’ve gone over the basics, how can employers go about being supportive and raising awareness?

Take the temperature

You won’t necessarily know whether there’s something you could be doing better unless you take the time to ask, so give your employees the opportunity to anonymously submit feedback about menopause awareness in your workplace.

You can use free tools like Google Forms, SurveyMonkey and Free Suggestion Box to garner employee sentiment, before translating that feedback into action.

Menopause training at every level

Now you’ve gauged how you’re already doing, how do you move forward?

You can’t effectively raise awareness of something you don’t understand. The first port of call for raising menopause awareness should be to undertake training. Here are a few resources to help you do just that:

  • We’d be remiss not to mention Thrive Content, our off-the-shelf content solution that offers learning materials on a broad range of topics. There are several resources on menopause awareness, perfect for managers and colleagues alike to get to grips with the complexities of the topic.
  • The Menopause Charity provides a full list of evidence-based fact sheets, designed to educate people about all aspects of menopause. These can be viewed as downloadable PDFs or webpages. They also offer poster packs to raise awareness about menopause, and their blog is packed with expert advice.
  • Daisy Network is a charity providing support to those diagnosed with POI (Premature Ovarian Insufficiency, or premature menopause) and has a wealth of resources on the topic to help you support any colleagues who might be going through this.

As well as undertaking thorough training, why not harness a specific awareness day to create a campaign? Mark your calendars with these specific events to make the most of them, and time your training with a good cause:

  • International Women’s Day (8th March 2024)
  • National Women’s Health Week (12th - 15th May 2024)
  • Menopause Awareness Month (October 2024)
  • World Menopause Day (18th October 2024)

Become a Menopause-Friendly-Accredited employer

Once you have trained yourself and your people on the topic of menopause awareness, you can keep the momentum going by becoming a Menopause-Friendly-Accredited Employer.

By going through this process, you demonstrate to both potential and existing candidates that you are truly committed to raising awareness. You will also be equipped with resources like webinars, masterclasses, and policy and guidance documents, as well as the ability to connect to a community of fellow Menopause-Friendly-Accredited employers.  

Along with becoming Menopause-Friendly-Accredited, you can sign the Menopause Workplace Pledge to further demonstrate your support and commitment.

Talk about it

The easiest way to break down the stigma around a topic is to talk about it.

While it may not seem like a taboo subject to a lot of people - and it certainly shouldn’t be - the research suggests that, on the whole, we’re just not quite there yet. A study found that only 53% of women are comfortable discussing menopause. The topic came in last in terms of womens’ willingness to talk about it - being beaten out by topics like cancer, religion, sexuality, and politics.

This taboo has to end - but it’s not going to happen overnight, and in order to have the most impact, the conversations need to be facilitated in the right way.

Consider the following initiatives to help encourage communication about menopause awareness:

  • Menopause champion: This is a specific person within your company who is appointed as a go-to point of contact for anyone who needs help or support. They should be thoroughly trained on all aspects of menopause and understand how to facilitate these conversations. (Side note: This is not a substitute for training your line managers to have these conversations.)
  • Colleague network: A colleague network can be an invaluable asset for anyone who feels like they’re going through things alone, or simply needs some like-minded colleagues to talk to. Take a leaf out of Thrive customer Specsavers’ book, whose colleague network Menotalk unites anyone who wants to talk about menopause awareness - including a testimonial from a male colleague, who simply wanted more information in order to support his wife. This demonstrates how important these conversations are for everyone, regardless of gender or background.

Accommodate colleagues experiencing menopause

Moving on to arguably the most important point in this whole list: You must actually “walk the walk” when it comes to accommodating your colleagues.

Flexibility to attend appointments, frequent breaks, phased return after sick leave, and private spaces in the office all contribute towards a menopause-friendly workplace.

Along with “taking the temperature” of your own team as mentioned at the start of this blog, you can also take advantage of the research that has already been done. CIPD Research surveyed over 2,000 respondents who could be experiencing menopause transition, and found that the most helpful measures for colleagues experiencing menopausal symptoms are as follows:

  1. The ability to control the temperature
  2. Flexible working

When you see it laid out plainly like that, it is even more shocking that only 25% of respondents said their organisation offers the ability to control the temperature, with just 26% offering the ability to work flexibly.

The research also recommended “managing health and absence in a fair and flexible way” as an important aspect of accommodating menopausal colleagues.

For UK-based employers, you can explore the NHS’ official guidance.


Make sure your menopause awareness is inclusive

Conversations around menopause awareness tend to centre the experience of the cisgender woman. But the scope of people who will experience menopause is far wider than that, comprising transgender men and non-binary people amongst others.

Make sure that your inclusivity isn’t unintentionally exclusionary, and involve everyone in the conversation.

For more information on menopause inclusivity, we recommend The Queer Menopause.

Thanks for reading our guide to raising menopause awareness in the workplace. For more information on how Thrive can help you educate your teams on inclusivity, allyship and so much more, browse our off-the-shelf learning content solution Thrive Content.

More Stories

See all

See Thrive in action

Explore what impact Thrive could make for your team and your learners today.