World Menopause Day 2023: managing wellbeing at work for women

This World Menopause Day (18 October) is a chance to learn more about how focused wellbeing strategies can better support one of the fastest growing employee-groups – women aged 45-54.

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Previous World Menopause Days have successfully raised the profile of this important wellbeing issue, which ultimately affects half the working-age population. Yet as recent employment tribunal cases show, more needs to be done to improve awareness of, and protect and support, women’s health at work.

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Menopause – new research

To build further understanding, this year’s World Menopause Day themes focus on women’s cardiovascular health (the International Menopause Society), and misinformation and management (the British Menopause Society – BMS).“The increased profile of the menopause is welcome – and it’s great that women, their partners and families, clinicians, the government, the media and celebrities are talking openly about this important transitional stage of a woman’s life," says Sara Moger, CEO of British Menopause Society."The downside is that there is an enormous amount of misinformation and anecdotal information bombarding women. This is causing confusion, anxiety, apprehension and fear. Fear of the symptoms, fear of the consequences, fear of ‘missing out’ if HRT is not for you, and fear of catastrophic changes to relationships – in the workplace and in life generally."Journalist Louise Minchin will host the ITN Business and BMS’ webinar ‘Menopause: Continuing the conversation’, which premieres on 18 October 2023 at 1200 GMT. This will explore the latest research around nutrition, workplace policies and why HRT isn’t for everyone - as well as feature profiles of employers including:
  • Accord Healthcare: is at the forefront of creating an environment and culture for people to be well at work with a wellbeing programme that empowers colleagues to take more direct control over their physical health.
  • Astellas Pharma: is engaging with diverse communities to understand the solutions that are needed to provide better education and care to all women living through the menopause.
  • Besins Healthcare: addresses the taboo surrounding the menopause, hearing from women who are working to raise awareness of the lesser-known symptoms of the menopause, and advocate for women of all backgrounds to receive equal access to menopause treatment, support, and education.
  • The British Standards Institution: In this studio interview Susan Taylor Martin, BSI CEO and Anne Hayes, Director of Standards Development and Sector, discuss the launch of British Standard for menstruation, menstrual health, and menopause in the workplace, and how this is helping organisations and supporting workers.
  • Crawford and Company: are committed to providing the environment and support required for women to manage their symptoms, remain in work, and continue to perform to the best of their ability.
  • Moody's: have created a workplace culture that encourages employees to openly address menopause-related concerns, helping those directly impacted and those caring for individuals navigating the menopause.

A wellbeing and inclusion issue

The CIPD’s latest research, 'Menopause in the Workplace', published earlier this month further highlights how menopause is an equity and inclusion issue, as well as a health and wellbeing, conversation.Over a quarter (27%) of employed women aged 40-60 who have experienced menopause symptoms – an estimated 1.2 million – reported that menopause has had a negative impact on their career progression. The impact is greatest for those who have a disability, long-term health condition, or identify as an ethnic minority:
  • 36% of women with a disability or long-term health condition say their symptoms have had a negative impact on their career progression, compared with 24% who don’t have one.
  • 38% of women who identify as from an ethnic minority background say their symptoms have had a negative impact on their career progression, compared with 25% who are white.
“Organisations can’t afford not to support employees who are experiencing menopause symptoms if they want to retain a diverse range of talent,” says Rachel Suff, senior policy adviser for wellbeing and employee relations at the CIPD.“The CIPD’s research shows that a lack of support can have a negative impact on career progression and even causes some women to leave the workplace entirely. Line managers should be supported to have open and honest conversations about the support available.

Continuing the conversation

“Everyone will experience menopause differently, so it’s about listening and offering support in ways that work for both the organisation and the employee," continues Rachel Suff. “Offering flexible working and other helpful adjustments will go a long way to empowering employees to manage their symptoms and workloads, without compromising their careers.”Debra Clark, head of wellbeing, Towergate Health & Protection, agrees, adding that workplace education around menopause is for everyone – men and women across every age group – and that health providers are widening the scope of support available.Existing employee health and wellbeing policies, practices and programmes can also be extended to support women in managing the psychological and emotional impact associated with menopause.“Forward-thinking companies not only educate, but also proactively support, their staff. The guidance and options available are expanding. Signposting to specialist support is an important aspect, as is help with navigating the NHS,” says Debra Clark. “Specific symptoms or effects of the menopause may need addressing, for example, cardiovascular changes associated with the menopause, where screening might be appropriate.“The number of specialist providers is increasing and more mainstream health insurers also now offer support for the menopause and menstrual health. We would encourage employers to talk to an adviser who can give guidance on the latest developments and the most appropriate options for support in their organisation.”

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