Women’s health is often a subject left out of conversations when companies discuss what they can do for their employees’ wellbeing. In the past, the rhetoric has been for women to keep periods and menopause to themselves, making women’s health in general a taboo subject. But in a new era striving for inclusivity and awareness, now is the time to shine a light on the importance of discussing and normalising the issues surrounding women’s health. With almost 900,000 women in the UK having left their jobs because of menopausal symptoms, what can businesses do to make sure their employees can feel comfortable at work, and get the support they need, when they need it most?
In the UK the average age menopause begins is 51. With a large percentage of the workforce falling into this age, it is vital for businesses to accommodate their employees, so that they feel they can work to the best of their ability without their symptoms hindering their time at work. For many women, it can be a sensitive subject; as it is a drastic hormonal change, and the end of their periods. Suffering from the menopause at work can be extremely difficult, as one of the main symptoms is ‘brain fog’: concentration and memory difficulties.
Anticipate the kinds of accommodations your company can make for employees going through menopause: air conditioning your employees have access to adjust, allowing for regular screen breaks or perhaps even offering flexible work from home days when needed. When employees feel accommodated, the workplace can be a more productive environment for all members of your team.
Knowledge is power
It is also important to include men in the conversation around women’s health. In a recent study of UK employees, 15% of men hadn’t even heard of the menopause. Without the knowledge of women’s health honestly and openly discussed, there can be opportunities for discrimination or mistreatment of staff when suffering with their symptoms, from colleagues who don’t understand the changes being faced by women, non-binary and trans individuals.
Writing a menopause policy can help ensure your company has the tools and information needed to fully understand the symptoms and characteristics of menopause, and what support employees can offer their colleagues to issue those who are dealing with the menopause do not feel discriminated against, or uncomfortable when discussing their symptoms or treatments. Of course health can be a very personal topic, so the main goal is to empower the women in your workplace, so they feel respected while at work, and able to process what can be a very difficult time on their own terms, with the support of their workplace behind them.
A helping hand
Offering a strong health and wellbeing package will provide your employees with support that is unique to their individual needs. Menopause can cause a lot of mental health issues, like depression or anxiety, so having a health package ready for your employees to access when they need it most can give your employees peace of mind, knowing that their needs are being addressed. Providing an employee assistance programme or EAP, can benefit those who wish to talk about their experience with menopause with a professional, so they can get the right advice to live with the symptoms. These programmes show that employers understand women’s health, and this in turn will help keep staff retention high, and attract more women to join an organisation who respects all aspects of womanhood.
Starting a frank, open conversation about women’s health will take away the stigma of going through the menopause, and forces us all to look at how women are viewed in the workplace. In a diverse and inclusive organisation, women should no longer have to feel embarrassment of going through the natural cycles of life – and it is imperative that their employers do not feed into these stigmas.
Having a plan of action in place which includes health and wellbeing packages for all employees, will foster an environment in which women feel empowered and safe to work, will set your business apart from the rest – and show that there is nothing taboo about women’s health.
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