Navigating Menopause in the Workplace: Insights from Business Psychology
‘I can literally pinpoint the first moment when I think my perimenopausal (menopause) symptoms started. It’s a little bit like when a huge famous event happens, you know like the death of Princess Diana or Barack Obama becoming President of the United States. I just remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing, what my hair was like. Everything about that moment. I was 44 when it started. I remember because it was so…weird. I just lost something of myself. I changed. I can’t quite pinpoint how I changed, but I definitely changed. I didn’t quite feel myself’. ~ Davina McCall, Menopausing.
In her book, Menopausing, Davina McCall candidly discussed how menopause had a profound impact on her personal and professional life. She mentioned moments when she had to navigate hot flashes and mood swings during live television broadcasts, highlighting the challenges women face during this transitional period.
Her story serves as a poignant reminder that menopause is a reality for women, regardless of their profession. It underscores the importance of creating supportive workplaces that enable women to manage their menopause-related symptoms with dignity and without fear of judgment.
Understanding Menopause as a Workplace Issue
Menopause, often considered a personal and private matter, is a significant life transition that affects a substantial portion of the workforce. As business psychologists delve into the complexities of employee well-being and workplace inclusivity, it becomes increasingly evident that menopause cannot be ignored in the corporate setting. This article explores the challenges women face during menopause in the workplace and presents strategies rooted in business psychology research to create more supportive and inclusive work environments.
Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, which aligns with a crucial period in a person’s career. Women experiencing menopause often grapple with a range of physical, emotional, and cognitive changes that can impact their job performance and overall well-being. Yet, despite its prevalence and significance, menopause remains an under-discussed and misunderstood topic in most workplaces.
The Organisational Impact of Ignoring Menopause
Organisations that fail to address menopause-related challenges risk various negative consequences:
- Decreased Productivity: Menopause symptoms, such as hot flashes, fatigue, and mood swings, can reduce an employee’s ability to concentrate and perform at their best.
- Increased Absenteeism: Menopause-related health issues may lead to more sick days and time off work, impacting team productivity and morale.
- Higher Turnover Rates: If women perceive their workplace as unsupportive during this life transition, they may seek alternative employment opportunities.
- Stigmatisation: The lack of awareness and understanding around menopause can contribute to a stigmatised work environment, where women feel uncomfortable discussing their experiences.
Business Psychology Research Insights
Business psychology offers valuable insights into addressing menopause-related challenges:
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Research shows that flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or adjusted schedules, can significantly alleviate the impact of menopause symptoms on job performance.
- Training and Awareness Programs: Business psychologists recommend implementing training and awareness programs to educate employees and managers about menopause, reducing stigma and fostering empathy.
- Mental Health Support: Menopause can take a toll on mental health. Providing access to counseling services and stress management programs can be crucial.
- Employee Resource Groups: Creating employee resource groups or support networks specifically for women going through menopause can provide a safe space for sharing experiences and advice.
- Policies and Accommodations: Organisations should consider policies that explicitly address menopause-related concerns, such as temperature control in the workplace or accommodations for frequent breaks.
Creating Inclusive Workplaces
Inclusive workplaces that acknowledge and accommodate the challenges of menopause can benefit both employees and organisations:
- Improved Employee Retention: When employees feel supported during significant life transitions, they are more likely to stay with the company.
- Enhanced Productivity: Providing accommodations and support can help employees maintain their performance levels, contributing to overall productivity.
- Positive Organisational Culture: Fostering a culture of empathy, understanding, and support around menopause can improve workplace morale and relationships.
- Legal Compliance: Addressing menopause-related challenges in the workplace can also help organisations comply with anti-discrimination laws and regulations.
Leadership and human resources teams play a critical role in implementing changes that support menopause in the workplace. By championing awareness, driving policy changes, and modeling inclusive behavior, they can create an environment where women feel comfortable discussing menopause-related challenges.
As organisations strive to create more inclusive and supportive workplaces, addressing menopause as a workplace issue is an imperative step. Business psychology research offers valuable insights and strategies to make this transition smoother for both employees and employers. By acknowledging the challenges of menopause and implementing supportive measures, organisations can foster a more inclusive and empathetic workplace culture that benefits everyone. It’s time to break the silence and take action, ensuring that no woman faces menopause alone in the workplace.
How can Impact help?
To support organisations in addressing the challenges associated with menopause in the workplace, Impact can offer a tailored set of services and solutions including: assistance in developing inclusive workplace policies that explicitly address menopause-related concerns, designing training programs and awareness campaigns, providing guidance on implementing mental health support programs, facilitating workshops and developing customised well-being programs that address menopause-related challenges.
- Menopause and the workplace (nhsinform.scot)
- How Menopause Symptoms Can Affect Your Career (healthcentral.com)
- Menopause at Work – Supporting People Experiencing the Menopause (mindtools.com)
- Menopause policies: why they are important – citrus HR
- It’s Time To Address Menopause at Work | Great Place To Work®