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Menopause – what companies can do to support their teams

As a responsible employer, you are likely to have a range of policies and procedures in place that cover things like illness, maternity and bereavement, to name a few. Their purpose is to outline the company’s stance on that particular topic and set out a clear set of expectations and processes, easily accessible to all. So, do you have a menopause policy in your business?

Despite the menopause affecting 50% of the population (and arguably most of the remaining 50% as well, albeit indirectly, at some point in their lives), it would appear that not many employers have a menopause policy in place – something that we’re hoping will change over the next few years.

A look at the basics

So what is the menopause? The NHS defines it as follows:

“The menopause is when a woman stops having periods and is no longer able to get pregnant naturally. The menopause is a natural part of ageing that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, as a woman's oestrogen levels decline.”

NHS website

In the UK, the average age for a woman to reach the menopause is 51. But around 1 in 100 women experience the menopause before 40 years of age.

There is a long list of symptoms which include:

  • Poor concentration
  • Tiredness
  • Poor memory
  • Depression
  • Feeling low
  • Reduced confidence
  • Sleepiness
  • Hot flushes

Whilst we recognise that the menopause is a very individual experience and that people can be affected in different ways and to different degrees, it is clear that these symptoms are bound to have a significant impact on someone’s wellbeing and inadvertently, their work.

Experience within Alpha

Our team here at Alpha is made up of individuals from a wide demographic background, including women who are within the affected age bracket, and others who live with women in that age bracket and have experienced the symptoms first-hand. As a business, we therefore decided to take a proactive stance with the aim to increase awareness and promote a greater understanding - not only in the workplace, but also in our personal lives.

What have we done about it?

Having identified the need and desire to formalise our approach, our next step was to speak to our HR Consultants (HR Navigation) to ask them for some guidance. They created for us an ‘Alpha Group of Companies Menopause Policy’ with a bespoke Risk Assessment. It includes measures that we can take, such as:

Is ventilation, temperature and access to natural light in work environment appropriate?

If not, consider measures such as desk fans, ability to open/sit by a window/door, access to cold drinking water etc.

Our policy also discusses Perimenopause, where employee and employers’ responsibilities lie, what adjustments can be made and ways to communicate. We recognise that different levels and types of support and adjustments may be needed - which is where the Risk Assessment comes in.

What has the feedback been?

“This is a natural process women’s bodies go through – 50% of our workforce are women – the other half come in contact with women! So we thought it is really important to share this information and to make adjustments in the workplace – it’s just one less thing to worry about.”

"Just ‘putting it out there’ has given us all a bit more information of why this is happening to women and given female colleagues the confidence to be more open about their experience. It can also help male colleagues who may be supporting their partner."

In summary

If you are suffering – ask you employer for a policy and support - you deserve it.  And if your wife, girlfriend, partner or mother is going through the menopause, then please take some time to read up on what is happening as it will help you too.

There is a lot of advice out there – here are few that come highly recommended:

CIPD https://www.cipd.co.uk/Images/menopause-guide-for-people-managers_tcm18-55548.pdf

The Menopause Doctor https://www.menopausedoctor.co.uk/

NHS www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause, www.nhs.uk/conditions/early–menopause

Menopause Matters www.menopausematters.co.uk

The Daisy Network Charity www.daisynetwork.org

The Menopause Café www.menopausecafe.net

Here at Alpha, we offer Mental Health Awareness training that addresses some of the symptoms that can be experienced during the menopause.

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