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Woman struggling with the menopause

8 simple steps to managing the menopause in the workplace

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Are you managing the menopause in your workplace?

As a business owner you know all too well the impact that losing a long-term member of staff can have on your business.

First there’s the loss of expertise that you’ve invested in over the years, then comes the impact on client relationships and the added pressure on remaining team members during the recruitment process, swiftly followed by a dip in team morale after the loss of an esteemed team member.

In essence, losing good people is bad for business. And yet, the UK has lost a staggering 900,000 women (that’s one in four!) due to the impact of the menopause on their working lives.

Having consulted with our board members, TAB (The Alternative Board) believes that many of these losses could have been avoided, if business owners and managers had simply addressed the underlying issue – the menopause.

It’s a stage of life that every female employee will go through during her working life and it’s therefore vital that our retention and wellbeing strategies openly address the menopause in the same way they do pregnancy and other long-term conditions.

By making just a few tweaks to our approach, we can make a huge difference to the lives of the women we employ and limit the impact on our businesses. Read on for our 8 simple steps to manage menopause in the workplace…

8 simple steps to manage the menopause in the workplace

#1 Create an open culture

Ensure regular informal conversations between management and employees in order to make raising health concerns such as the menopause the norm. Several studies have shown that women are more likely to speak up about menopause symptoms where they feel they have empathetic colleagues and managers.

#2 Get educated

Put in place training, processes and information so all employees have a clear understanding of menopause. Lead from the top and ensure everyone in your businesses, male and female, is educated about the menopause and understands how to support their colleagues or ask for help.

#3 Have a clear policy

Whether you decide on a company policy or guidance document ensure it is written down and well publicised. Make sure all employees know how to find your company policy and what to do if they need more information.

Free guidance to help build your own policy can be found on the government website, the Faculty of Occupational Medicine, and through organisations such as Menopause Friendly.

Health and wellbeing guide download

#4 Recognise you are not expected to be an expert

Your role is to show understanding of the condition and be supportive of your staff. Unlike pregnancy, menopause is not the same journey for every woman so do encourage employees to seek professional advice and care from their GP. An occupational health professional can provide additional support and advice for any workplace changes required to support team members, if required.

#5 Review your absence policy

A sickness absence policy should accommodate women experiencing menopause and avoid negative consequences following any sick days taken due to the condition. Consideration could also be given to tailoring a specific absence policy to support employees going through the menopause.

#6 Be flexible in your approach

Recognise that menopause isn’t a permanent condition but by offering employees short-term solutions you are investing in the long-term stability of your business. Opportunities to make life more comfortable for menopausal employees include…

  • Reducing workload when required
  • Ensuring they do not work excessively long hours
  • Allowing breaks or a switch to a different task
  • Offering flexible hours / work from home on bad days
  • Time off to attend medical appointments

#7 Assess your physical workplace

Conduct a risk assessment around menopausal symptoms and make environmental changes as required. These could include:

  • Access to fans and good ventilation allowing women to cope better with hot flushes
  • Ability to control room temperatures via air conditioning or ventilation
  • Clean and comfortable toilet and shower facilities
  • A quiet break-out space to escape excessive noise
  • Provision of cold drinking water

Where adjustments affect other colleagues – such as lowering the thermostat in a shared workspace – be open and communicative about the reason for this in order to demonstrate that you are a supportive workplace.

#8 Seek wider support

Talk to your wider network about your experiences of menopause in the workplace and share best practice. This could be as simple as a chat with a TAB advisory board or seeking specific professional advice from HR or Occupational Health specialists. Explore any local support groups or menopause related charities that could also support your business.

You may also be interested in reading our coverage on how the 'SME industry has been damaged by menopause related resignations.'

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