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06 Dec 2023

5 ways employers can support menopause in the workplace

Despite the government’s rejection of plans to make menopause a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 earlier this year, there’s much more employers can do to improve menopause support in the workplace

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In May, The British Standards Institute issued a workplace standard on menstruation, menstrual health and menopause, compiled with input from major employers, health and safety bodies and charities. Its recommendations ranged from better training for line managers to access to individual cooling facilities.

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 (although it varies for each woman) and brings physical, emotional and cognitive changes that can impact a woman’s wellbeing. These changes can also have significant effects on work. For example, some women can find it difficult to concentrate.

According to a 2021 survey of 2,000 employees and 500 business owners by Benenden Health, 23% of women who have been unwell as a result of the menopause have left jobs, so it’s imperative employers look at ways they can support those going through the menopause or they could lose experienced, talented individuals.

How employers can create a supportive work environment:

1. Open dialogue

According to the latest research by Benenden Health, 44% of employers believe there’s still a stigma attached to the menopause. Encouraging open conversation about menopause helps understanding and reduce this stigma. Training managers to recognise and accommodate menopause-related challenges will also help allow for this communication to take place more naturally in the workplace.

2. Flexible work arrangements

Offering flexible working hours, remote working, or adjustments to accommodate symptoms can make a significant difference in a woman’s comfort and productivity.

3. Wellness programmes

Encourage women to prioritise self-care, mindfulness and regular exercise. Workplace wellness initiatives that address the physical and emotional aspects of menopause can promote a healthier workplace. These programmes may include stress management techniques, exercise opportunities and access to counselling services.

4. Education and awareness

Raising awareness about menopause is essential to dispel misconceptions and foster a supportive culture. This can be through education sessions or workshops that inform both men and women about the symptoms, challenges and strategies for supporting menopausal employees.

5. Diversity in employee benefits

A flexible benefits platform, such as Zest’s, enables employers to implement a range of benefits that can support employees of different ages and in all life stages.

Zest CEO Matt Russell says: “Menopause is a significant life event that affects women both personally and professionally, but, by fostering a supportive and understanding workplace environment that incorporates relevant employee wellbeing benefits, employers can help women navigate this transition with confidence and empower them to continue thriving in their careers.”

Menopause webinar

To celebrate World Menopause Day on 18 October, Zest hosted a roundtable webinar on zoom with industry experts. Watch it here.

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