Many workplaces have pregnancy and maternity leave policies in place, but few have policies to support perimenopausal and menopausal employees. With 1.3 million women entering menopause every year...
Many workplaces have pregnancy and maternity leave policies in place, but few have policies to support perimenopausal and menopausal employees. With 1.3 million women entering menopause every year and the oldest of the millennial generation just now entering the perimenopausal years, it’s necessary to refocus on workplace habits that support this natural time of life.
Menopause is Not a Disease
First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize that menopause is not a disease. Instead, it’s a natural time of life for half the world’s population, and it’s time to bring menopause conversations into the workplace. This can look like taking a critical eye to leave policies and workplace flexibility, providing resources to support menopause symptoms, and developing an understanding of unique employee needs.
Symptoms in the Workplace
Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause may include brain fog, hot flashes and sweating, irregular bleeding, vaginal dryness, emotional imbalances, exhaustion, and more. While many women are experts at managing (and hiding) symptoms, small workplace changes can support these workers and allow them to work to their fullest capacity.
- Be aware of heavy workloads with tight deadlines; constant pressure in the workplace isn’t healthy for anyone. High stress can exacerbate mild symptoms.
- Poor concentration, poor memory, and brain fog are common symptoms during menopause. Having a good project management system in place will help all employees to manage their workloads and prevent forgotten tasks.
- Open the conversation about menopause. For example, when leadership teams meet to discuss policies like paid leave, flex time, and wellness benefits, a reminder of menopause can help decision-makers to consider all employees as they draft policies.
- Ensure that workers have access to necessities like adequate bathroom access, cold water to drink, and places to store snacks or meals (or cooling towels).
- Consider the temperature of your workspaces. If you can accommodate the temperature preferences of your employees, that’s great, but barring that ability, ensure your dress code allows those who run extra hot or extra cold to meet their own needs. A woman in menopause may find herself both with hot flashes and chills on the same day.
- Consider adding small fans to your budget. Personal fans help to cool those who run hot and in offices, may provide white noise that can increase focus.
- Can your employees flex their hours or work from home occasionally? Providing flexibility is key to retaining employees.
Policies that help to support menopausal women are a benefit to all workers. And employee retention increases when employers show empathy and understanding that workers are people first. It behooves every organization to ensure that their decision-making and human resources teams are familiar with the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause and understand how those symptoms may impact their workforce.