When you own a small business, your team can often feel like family. They dedicate so much time and energy to your business, so it's natural that you want them to feel supported both in the workplace and at home. There can be a number of things that your employees are going through that you may not be aware of that are affecting all aspects of their wellbeing. One of these is the menopause. If you have not had experience of the menopause yourself, directly or indirectly through family members or friends, you may not realise how big of an impact it can have on all aspects of a person's life, from sleep to concentration.
More and more employers are now prioritising employee wellbeing and inclusivity in the workplace, and this includes supporting those who are going through the menopause. However, there is still a lot of work to be done, with one survey finding that a quarter (24%) of the 2,000 women aged 45 to 67 surveyed saying that they were unhappy in their jobs because of a lack of support, with 63% noting that their place of work had not introduced any kind of policy to make things easier for women going through menopause.1
Creating a supportive workplace can often be achieved through some simple changes, such as encouraging a culture of open dialogue between line managers and employees where people feel supported and comfortable discussing when they may be struggling. The rewards of prioritising menopause support at work can be far-reaching for small businesses and their employees, and can include improved employee wellbeing, as well as greater employee engagement and loyalty. In our small business guide to menopause, we explore how business owners can support their team and create a menopause-friendly workplace.
Menopause is a natural part of ageing and occurs when your period stops due to lower hormone levels. Menopause can be experienced at any age due to medical conditions (such as ovarian failure), surgery, certain cancers and their treatments. Perimenopause occurs when symptoms are experienced before periods have stopped, which can occur across a number of years. Menopause is reached when a person who usually has periods has not had a period for 12 months.2
According to the ONS, 66.9% of females aged 50-64 are currently in employment. With menopause usually occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, this shows that there is a high number of menopausal women currently in the workplace.
If you’ve not had experience of menopause yourself, it can be difficult to fully understand the impact that the symptoms can have on someone’s life. This can be particularly prominent in the workplace. One study found that 3 out of 5 (59%) of women between the ages of 45 and 55 who are experiencing menopause symptoms say it has a negative impact on them at work.3 A 2019 study found that 65% said they were less able to concentrate, 58% said they experience more stress and 52% said they felt less patient with clients and colleagues.4
With such a high proportion of workers experiencing symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, small business owners should have awareness of the symptoms, and how they can support members of their team who may be going through the menopause to ensure they feel supported and understood.
Symptoms of menopause and perimenopause include2:
As with many medical conditions, people will have different experiences with the menopause and will experience different symptoms.
As well as having physical symptoms, menopause and perimenopause can also have a big emotional impact. Reduced hormone levels combined with difficulty sleeping can have a knock-on effect on all aspects of your life.
Even though it’s a natural part of life, menopause is often a very taboo subject in the workplace. This is reflected in a study by the CIPD which found that 30% of those surveyed said they had been unable to go into work because of their menopause symptoms, but only one quarter of that group felt able to tell their line manager the real reason for their absence.5
The European Menopause and Andropause Society has put together the following recommendations for how employers and managers can support menopause in the workplace6:
Nikki Porges, Health Care Nurse at AXA Health, shares some tips for how those who are experiencing menopause can manage symptoms in the workplace.
Most of all if you are struggling at work don’t be afraid to speak out there is always help available for you.
Lifestyle changes during the peri menopause and menopause can go a long way to helping you while you go through the menopause transition as well as future proofing your health for the years to come which is essential whether you decide to or are taking HRT or not. Nikki Porges shares some simple lifestyle changes to help manage the symptoms of menopause:
At AXA Health, we’re here for you and your team when you need menopause support. Every woman will experience menopause but everyone’s personal experience is unique to them. Whatever stage your employee is at we’re here to help. Only AXA Health offers specialist menopause support as standard (when an Outpatient option is included with your plan). Some of the ways we can support them include:
To find out more about our menopause support as part of our small business health insurance, call our small business experts on 0800 389 7413 or get a quote today
*The routine management of the symptoms of menopause is not covered by our plans. Individual exclusions may apply, regardless of group cover
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