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03 Apr 2024
by Asima Ahmad

Why employers should offer benefits to support menopause

Lack of knowledge in the workplace about menopause and the affects it can have is a major issue for employers

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The reproductive health needs of employees, including hormonal health, don’t stop at maternity, fertility and family building, all of which have increasingly become part of the company benefits package.

Menopause symptoms can make daily life more difficult – including work. Even so, stigma and lack of awareness make it hard for employees to get the care they need.

An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide will have experienced menopause by 2025.

Despite popular beliefs, menopause can bring far more than just hot flushes.

Employees may also experience symptoms that make it more challenging for them to feel comfortable, happy, and productive at work.

Common disruptive symptoms include:

Fatigue: Poor sleep is common in menopause. When someone continues not to get enough sleep for a sustained period, fatigue can set in. Fatigue might mean running late for morning meetings or feeling sluggish all day.

Brain fog: A lack of sleep and fatigue can contribute to feelings of brain fog, or feeling unfocused and forgetful. Brain fog might make it difficult for an employee to feel like they’re bringing their A-game to work, despite their best efforts.

Memory lapses: Estrogen is linked to memory performance, which means lower levels might affect memory even beyond brain fog.

Mood changes: Dropping hormone levels can also lead to mood swings and even depression and anxiety. This can contribute to, or compound, the stress someone may already feel at work.

Nausea: Nobody wants to be at work when they feel sick.

These and other symptoms can be so disruptive that, according to a 2023 survey, 80% of people going through menopause in the workplace described it as challenging.

Hormonal ageing can also increase health risks long term. Estrogen is protective against heart disease, and the loss of estrogen results in rapid bone loss. Both of these heightened risks can affect your employees’ health long-term.

Support can increase employee satisfaction

Just 24% of employees say their employer has offered menopause healthcare benefits, and only 9% said those benefits were significant. Among those who don't have menopause benefits from their employer, 60% say it would have increased their job satisfaction if they did have significant support.

More than half have considered changing jobs because of menopause, including moving from full-time to a part-time role, retiring early, or quitting altogether.

Because of stigma around menopause and women’s health more broadly, employees rarely speak up about their needs before, during or after menopause.

As well as feeling a lack of support at work, those going through menopause also report that they had trouble finding accurate information. A 2021 survey with 1,000 respondents found that almost one-third of didn’t think there was enough information available before menopause onset.

The same researchers released a 2022 survey and found that around the same percentage didn’t know what perimenopause was or when it typically starts.

It’s important to educate individuals on these changes early, so they can take preventive measures, understand what can help symptoms, and recognise that menopause care is not a one-size-fits-all approach.

How to support employees

Although menopause care is often covered under standard insurance, accessing it isn’t easy. In fact, according to a 2018 survey by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), 42% of women said they hadn’t talked about menopause with a healthcare provider – and only one in five were referred to a menopause specialist.

People often find providers aren’t knowledgeable enough about menopause to support them. Only 20% of obstetrician/gynaecology (OB/GYN) residency programmes offer training in menopause care, most of which are elective.

As a result, the AARP survey findings reported that around 80% of residents felt “barely comfortable” around menopause care. Another survey found that over half of their respondents who were OB/GYN residents in their fourth year said they needed to learn more about the many aspects of menopause care, including therapies, bone health, heart disease, and metabolic health.

Carrot can help you expand benefits to be more inclusive of employees of all ages and support them throughout the entire lifespan.

With Carrot, you’ll be able to bring your employees access to a network of providers vetted for menopause care, avenues for community support through what can be an isolating experience, and additional tools and recommendations to help your employees be as happy and healthy as possible.

Carrot is exhibiting at the REBA Wellbeing Congress 2024 on 20 June. Book your ticket here.


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