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July 30 2018Read more
As a senior member in your organisation, it is highly likely that you manage women within your team. And considering that there are currently over 4 million employed women in the UK and Ireland aged 45-60, a significant number of them will be working through their menopausal transition.
Despite being a natural stage of life, the menopause is still considered by many as a ‘taboo’ subject - forcing many employees with menopausal symptoms to suffer in silence.
The menopause is a natural part of ageing that all women experience, usually between 45 and 55 years of age, when their oestrogen levels decline. In the UK and Ireland, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51 - 52.
The ‘perimenopause’ is the phase leading up to the menopause, when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.
Most women will experience menopausal symptoms in their lifetime. These can last for several years and cause a significant impact on a woman’s home and work life. Symptoms can fluctuate in frequency and severity, these include:
According to the CIPD, one in four menopausal women say they don’t get the support they need from their manager. In additional to this, the Faculty of Occupational Health (FOM) has found that the majority of working women are unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to line managers.
Clearly, not enough is being done to help make employees feel comfortable discussing health concerns. However, there are several benefits to effective management of team members with menopausal symptoms. Not only will it help you cultivate a working culture of acceptance, but it will help you to improve your team’s morale, retain valuable talent, and reduce sickness absence.
To help you develop a positive workplace wellbeing, we have listed several ‘dos and don’ts’ when supporting an employee experiencing the menopause:
Educate yourself: Gain a greater understanding on the menopause by doing some research on the subject. By becoming more knowledgeable on the issue, you may find that you will become more approachable.
Build relationships: Asking your team members how they are feeling and conducting regular ‘check-ins’ can provide them with an appropriate platform for them to voice their concerns.
Reasonable adjustments: Making reasonable adjustments for those suffering from menopausal symptoms can do wonders for employee morale. For example, altering their working hours.
Make assumptions: Every person in your team is different - so treat them as individuals.
Be embarrassed: Raising a health issue to a manager can be an anxiety-inducing experience - especially if the senior staff member is the opposite sex. Approach conversations with empathy, and try not to be embarrassed by the issue.
Offer medical advice: Provide a compassionate ear if a health issue is raised, but avoid diagnosing the issue yourself.
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