Four ways to boost menopause wellbeing, and improve talent retention amongst your most senior staff
Right now, menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. Many are part of the senior leadership talent pipeline. But those who are leaving their roles are doing so for a simple reason. The workplace isn’t understanding, or addressing, their health and wellbeing needs.
Communicating menopause – breaking the corporate taboo
This is the issue we’re covering in the second episode of our new podcast series, looking at why it’s vital to create a new and open narrative about the menopause, and how, in doing so, businesses can both improve talent retention and enhance their workplace culture for all employees.
Listen to the episode in full (also available wherever you get your podcasts) or read on to discover four effective tactics for lifting the workplace taboo around the menopause.
1. Increase understanding throughout the workforce of the menopause as a normal experience.
One of the reasons why the menopause is viewed as such a taboo subject is because it’s seen as embarrassing or difficult. It’s associated with being a particular age, and with difficult physical and emotional experiences.
The truth is that while the average age for the menopause in the UK is 51 years old, this is only an average. Some women are much younger. Some are much older. Complicating this further is the fact that the menopause is preceded by the perimenopause. This is a period of years in which women are transitioning to menopause and may experience the onset of menopausal symptoms.
So, there isn’t ‘an age’ for the menopause. Plus, there is a huge diversity in how these biological changes affect women. For some, there’s barely any impact. For others, it can be a turbulent time both physically – hot flushes, interrupted sleep, brain fog – and mentally, with increased anxiety and hormonally-driven mood swings.
This diversity means that there isn’t one “menopause experience”. Ensuring all employees understand that is the first step towards making this a topic that can be talked about comfortably. Why? Because it stops people making assumptions about what their colleagues are going through and how they might feel.
Open communication supports everyone throughout the workplace to understand the realities of the menopause. That understanding should be reinforced with management training: focusing particularly on help line managers to understand how to talk about the menopause, and why this is a topic that needs to be addressed.
Taken together, those approaches make it easier for women to share what’s happening for them and to ask for the support they – as an individual – might need. It’s that support which may be crucial to an employee’s performance, and which may ultimately make the difference between losing or retaining key talent.
2. Lead from the top.
One of the fastest ways to normalise taboo subjects is to ensure that it’s championed by senior leadership. In this instance, talk to your senior female achievers and ask if they’re willing to speak out about their menopause experiences. This approach would:
- Make it easier for other employees to speak openly.
- Build understanding about the menopause in employees who aren’t at this life stage.
- Reinforce the diversity of menopause experience.
- Show that the menopause doesn’t prevent women from achieving their full potential.
3. Create opt-in support groups.
Peer-to-peer support will be an invaluable resource for some women going through the menopause. Whether this is an in-person social group, or a remote access chat room, this is an opportunity to bring together colleagues who have been through, are going through, or are aware they’re approaching menopause.
Knowing that there’s a supportive pool of colleagues who can share concerns and advice and offer help in navigating the challenges of this life stage is enormously beneficial. As an organisation, the key is to create that resource, communicate that it’s there, and make it something that people can access quietly and easily.
4. Take small actions.
Honest and open communication about the menopause is critical, but that communication needs to be backed up with training and resources. The good news is that there are two simple, cost-effective but impactful actions you can take to show that wellbeing during the menopause matters:
- Equipping all employees with a desk fan. Making a desk fan a universal resource removes any sense of stigma in using them. That allows women to deal discreetly with one of the most common and uncomfortable physical symptoms of the menopause – the sudden hot flush.
- Add menopausal symptoms to your health professional advice line offering. This gives women the opportunity to talk through what they’re experiencing with a professional. It’s a simple way to highlight that your workplace is supportive, and that help is available.
And finally, we could all learn from this taboo-smashing award-winning ad campaign from Holland & Barrett, running under the strapline ‘Me.No.Pause’; it focuses on the loss of femininity, identity, and self that can be some of the most difficult aspects of the menopause.
The author is Elizabeth Spencer-Phillips, Founding Director and MD at Caburn Hope, part of the Buck family.
This article is provided by Caburn Hope, part of the Buck family.
In partnership with Buck
Buck is a global, integrated HR consulting, benefits administration & technology services provider.