Welcome to the “FLS Guide to Navigating Menopause in the Workplace.” We understand that the menopause transition is a natural part of life, especially for women, and it can have a significant impact on personal well-being and professional life. This guide is designed to provide both employees and managers with essential information and practical tips for effectively managing menopause in the workplace.
Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years. It is officially defined as the point when a woman has her last menstrual period. While menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, it can happen earlier or later. Some women may experience a premature menopause due to medical conditions or treatments.
Menopause is associated with a decrease in the hormone estrogen, leading to a range of physical and psychological symptoms. These may include:
These symptoms can last for an average of four years but may persist for up to 12 years for some women, significantly impacting their quality of life, both personally and professionally.
Additional considerations and adjustments may be required.
• Where uniforms are compulsory, flexibility is helpful. This might include the use of thermally comfortable fabrics, optional layers, being allowed to remove neckties or jackets, as well as the provision of changing facilities.
• Where work requires constant standing or prolonged sitting, having access to a rest room (e.g. to sit during work breaks) would be helpful, as would space to move about for those women in sedentary roles.
• In customer-focused or public facing roles, it may help to have access to a quiet room for a short break so as to manage a severe hot flush. Severe menopausal symptoms and their consequences may combine
There are recommendations about working conditions for menopausal women produced by the European Menopause and Andropause Society (EMAS). These are adapted below:
• Provide training for employees and managers to raise awareness and convey that the menopause can present difficulties for some women at work.
• Facilitate discussion about troublesome symptoms. Managers can help by communicating that health-related problems such as those experienced during the menopause are normal.
• Review control of workplace temperature and ventilation and see how they might be adapted to meet the needs of individuals. This might include having a desktop fan in an office, or locating a workstation near an opening window or away from a heat source.
• Consider flexible working hours or shift changes. If sleep is disturbed, later start times might be helpful.
• Provide access to cold drinking water in all work situations, including off site venues.
• Ensure access to wash room facilities and toilets, including when travelling or working in temporary locations. Symptoms of the menopause usually last between 4 and 8 years
The majority of women are unwilling to disclose menopause-related health problems to line managers, most of whom are men or younger than them
For women who find their menopausal symptoms are affecting their wellbeing and their capacity to work:
• Find out more about the menopause from available sources of information
(see suggestions at the end of this guidance).
• See your GP for advice on available treatment options.
• Discuss your practical needs with your line manager, HR or another manager you feel comfortable talking to. • Use technology where this is helpful, e.g. for reminders or note taking.
• If there is an occupational health service available, make an appointment to discuss support and possible work adjustments.
• If those you work with are supportive, this can make a big difference. Talk about your symptoms and solutions with colleagues, particularly those who are also experiencing symptoms, use humour to deflect embarrassment, and work out your preferred coping strategies and working patterns.
• Avoid hot flush triggers (such as hot food and drinks) especially before presentations or meetings.
• Consider relaxation techniques such as mindfulness and other potentially helpful techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy, as these can help reduce the impact of symptoms.
• Consider lifestyle changes such as weight reduction, smoking cessation and exercise.
And, finally … It is important to be aware that the menopause is a natural and temporary stage in women’s lives and that not all women experience significant symptoms. The menopause has been regarded as a taboo subject. But this is changing as employers gradually acknowledge the potential impact of the menopause on women and become aware of the simple steps they can take to be supportive.
The menopause transition coincides with a time when many women are actively engaged in the workforce. In recent years, the number of women over the age of 50 in the workforce has increased, making it essential for managers to acknowledge the needs of this demographic. It’s not just a matter of responsibility; it’s also a smart business move.
By proactively addressing menopause in the workplace, organizations can foster a culture of care and well-being, ultimately improving employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Recognizing the effects of menopause can lead to broader positive changes in the workplace, promoting empathy and understanding among all employees.
The menopause is a natural life stage, and with the right support and understanding, women can navigate it successfully while continuing to thrive in their careers. It’s time for workplaces to embrace this change and create an inclusive environment for everyone.
• Menopause Matters – http://www.menopausematters.co.uk/
• The Daisy Network – https://www.daisynetwork. org.uk/about-us/what-we-do/
• Healthtalk.org – http://www.healthtalk.org/ peoples-experiences/later-life/menopause/ topics
• Women’s Health Concerns – https://www. womens-health-concern.org/help-and-advice/ factsheets/focus-series/menopause/
• The Menopause Exchange – http://www. menopause-exchange.co.uk/
• NICE Menopause: diagnosis and management – https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng23
• Davies, S.C. “Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, 2014, The Health of the 51%: Women” London: Department of Health (2015) Chapter 9: Psychosocial factors and the menopause: the impact of the menopause on personal and working life. https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications/chief-medical-officer-annual-report2014-womens-health
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