It's not a topic that's often discussed, so it might be a surprise to hear that eight out of every ten menopausal women are part of the workforce in the UK.
This means menopause is a topic that might feel awkward to discuss but it's one that hiring managers should be mindful of. As a tech recruitment company, at Consortia, we have been pleased to see more information coming out over the last few years on how to better support women employees during menopause. It shows excellent steps to continuing to bring the tech industry into a more equitable work environment.
As it's a subject many people don't understand and haven't considered before, we created this article to bring you some easy-to-follow steps to support your staff and colleagues.
Why Does Menopause at Work Matter?
Only 26% of people in tech are women. While many people are working hard to close the gender gap and offer more opportunities, we're still at a point where we need to do more to make the tech industry more equitable.
With menopause being a life-changing event that many women, as well as some trans and non-binary people, will go through, it is essential to understand how it might impact them in the workplace. Usually starting between the age of 45 to 55 years old, many people are in more senior positions in their careers at the onset. However, naturally, some people may experience earlier onset while others may be much later, and the topic can be sensitive to bring up.
With many women saying they would consider leaving their jobs as a direct result of menopausal symptoms, there's a real need to better understand how best to support employees and colleagues during this time. It could mean the difference between retaining top talent or losing them completely!
How Can Menopause Impact Work?
The cognitive, physical and psychological impact menstruation and menopause can have on those experiencing symptoms are often underestimated. And while some people may experience little to no symptoms, others may find symptoms seriously disrupt their life both in and out of the office.
One survey found that as many as 45% of women experiencing menopause felt that symptoms negatively impacted their work, and nearly half who needed to take time off said they wouldn't tell their employer the real reason.
People going through menopause are often in pain. They may have back pain and significant cramping, headaches and muscle aches. They may also have hot flushes or chills, which can be challenging to manage in an office environment.
Menopause can cause mood shifts, anxiety and lapses in concentration. It can also cause extreme fatigue.
All of these symptoms can have direct and indirect effects on a woman at work. By having a better understanding, women can be more supported over this time in their lives which usually lasts around four years.
How Can You Support People Going Through Menopause?
Check Existing Policies and Guidance
Firstly you may want to consider checking whether your company has any menopausal workplace guidance. This will be a good source of information on your company's current policies, including support options and sickness procedures around reproductive-related issues. However, even with no official policies, you will find straightforward ways to help below.
Become More Knowledgable
Like all things, becoming more informed is the first step to supporting someone. Learn about the possible symptoms and show empathy when working with someone experiencing menopause. If you want to create an inclusive workspace, understanding issues associated with reproductive health is vital.
Help Create an Open Culture
Do your best to create an open and non-judgmental environment where women feel more comfortable discussing their concerns. By creating available communication channels, you are more likely to come up with positive solutions rather than creating a culture of hiding reasons for sickness and weaker work performance.
Provide Positive Feedback
Try to offer more verbal encouragement during this time. Many women lose confidence during menopause and will benefit significantly from reassurance. Let women know that you value their work to help maintain that confidence in their abilities.
Ask the women at your workplace what they might need to support them. Women may have different ideas about what would make them feel more comfortable in the workplace, and some solutions may be relatively easy to provide. Possible options might be more flexible working, access to fans, change of desk location or access to workplace counselling.
Keep up to date
Use the available resources wisely. The British Menopausal Society and The European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS) for more global companies have provided helpful guidance on menopause and work from experts worldwide and are a useful starting point. The Wellbeing of Women is a charity that has done a lot of work around supporting women not only through menopause but other health issues too, and they have a lot of helpful information for workplaces to use as a resource.
Support the Women In Your Workplace
Dealing with the symptoms of menopause at work can be challenging for all involved and obviously can be a very private and sensitive subject. But with over 4.4 million women between the ages of 45- 60 employed in the UK, hiring managers must take the time to understand how best to support their staff.
We hope this brief overview will help better inform you and your staff on how best to support your women in tech!