There is one group of people whom HR may be overlooking when it comes to benefits – people going through menopause. This means you aren’t providing a menopause-friendly workplace.
What most people don’t know is menopause has 34 symptoms associated with it. They include many things, from the well-known hot flashes to headaches to tingling extremities to dizzy spells to irregular heartbeat to panic disorder, and the list goes on.
Many of these symptoms can make going to work agonizing. In fact, 45% of people reported taking a menopause-related sick day, according to a study by Gennev, a menopause telehealth company. The study surveyed 2,500 workers experiencing menopause and found that one in four reported quitting their job because of menopause.
Why is this going on?
Many employers assume that people going through menopause have already aged out of the workforce. But that’s far from accurate.
The menopausal transition typically begins between the age of 45 and 55, according to the National Institute on Aging. Most people that age are still working and probably have another 10 to 20 years left in the workplace. Add to that the fact that menopausal transition can last anywhere from seven to 14 years, and you have a lot of employees in the workplace who are menopausal.
Here are three reasons all employers should care about their menopausal employees:
- Global menopause productivity losses total $150 billion a year, according to a Bloomberg study.
- By 2025, there will be approximately 1.1 billion people going through menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society.
- It’s a diversity, equity and inclusion issue.
Here’s what employers can do to become a menopause-friendly workplace:
Communicate openly and often
Use different forms of communication to reach this population. You can offer a dedicated benefits platform, an intranet site, posters, flyers, seminars, presentations and online videos, suggests Peppy Health Corporation. The important thing is to make the subject easy to talk about. People shouldn’t be embarrassed to talk about menopause, because it’s a natural stage of life.
Plus, encouraging people to talk about it can help some people cope with it or realize they’re having symptoms of menopause. For example, people may not know that brain fog, hair loss and insomnia are symptoms of menopause. By educating them, they may realize these symptoms they’re experiencing are from menopause and seek help and/or treatment.
Revise absentee policy
Some menopause symptoms, such as night sweats, headaches, itchiness, depression, etc., can affect employees’ productivity because they affect sleep. This plus heavy bleeding and severe cramping can make it difficult to work in an office.
Look over your absentee policy and make sure you mention in it that menopause symptoms are legitimate reasons to use sick time or work from home when needed. And remind employees of this fact.
Assess your physical workspace
There are certain things employers can do to make their physical workspace more accommodating to employees going through menopause. One is to make sure your air conditioning units are working properly and that all areas of the office are equally covered by them.
Keep extra floor and desk fans around for employees to use to keep their workspace at a pleasant temperature for them.
Provide access to cold water.
If employees are required to wear uniforms, make sure the material is natural and breathable, and the fit is loose. Artificial fibers and tight-fitting clothing can intensify hot flashes.
Let employees going through menopause know you support them by providing appropriate resources on signs and symptoms, well-being benefits you offer that can help them like an employee assistance program, and information on things like support groups, hormone replacement therapy and alternative therapies.