Nearly one million women have had to leave their jobs due to uncomfortable menopausal symptoms, new industry-wide research has revealed, as menopausal women become the ‘fastest growing workplace demographic’.
The collaborative research between the CIPD and Bupa also revealed that of the menopausal women who stayed in the workplace, many had to take an average of 32 weeks’ leave throughout their careers to help manage symptoms.
“Experienced middle-aged women are leaving the workforce in droves. These women are likely to be at the top of their game, but without the right support, at the right time, they are unable to reach their full potential for businesses to reap the benefits from,” Bupa said in the report.
The menopause tends to occur between 45 and 55 years of age, with average age being 51. But the NHS say that around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before they are 40.
Common menopausal symptoms can be both physical and emotional and include hot flushes, insomnia, night sweats and vaginal dryness, as well as low mood and anxiety and difficulty concentrating.
“Some women experience severe symptoms and may really struggle at work, but many won’t tell their line manager because they’re embarrassed. Instead, they’ll call in sick with other symptoms.”
Rachel Western, Aon
A quarter of women in the CIPD research were found to experience ‘debilitating’ symptoms including hot flushes, night sweats and anxiety.
Calling on organisations to do more to support menopausal women in the workplace and to help de-stigmatise the issue, the CIPD/Bupa guide made a series of recommendations for line managers and employers:
- Identify and reduce the barriers which could potentially prevent a menopausal colleague from performing and/or developing well in their role.
- Identify appropriate workplace adjustments
- Foster open and honest relationships between teams so it feels safe to share concerns relating to the menopause
- Have open and honest conversations
- Foster an ‘inclusive workplace environment which treats everyone fairly.
Rachel Western on how employers can support menopausal women
We absolutely need an open workplace culture where it feels safe to talk about the menopause. Employers need to be saying ‘we’re aware the menopause exists and we want you to feel able to tell us if you’re struggling, so we can support you through it.’ Having training, education and policies in place is absolutely key. There needs to be a clear policy on how employers will support menopausal women, whether that’s through education, awareness training or flexible working environment to help manage symptoms.
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