Women make up roughly half of the UK workforce, with menopausal women being the fastest growing workforce demographic.
It’s crucial that companies begin to look at menopause and how it may impact their workforce, especially as more women than ever before are navigating menopause in the workplace. Symptoms can make daily life challenging, resulting in absenteeism, loss of confidence and fluctuations in work performance.
The statistics below highlight why it’s so crucial that we begin discussing menopause in the workplace:
1 in 4 women have considered leaving work altogether due to symptoms arising from menopause
3 in 4 women will experience several menopause symptoms
1 in 4 of these women will experience severe symptoms which can have a negative impact on their day to day quality of life. This can affect relationships both at home and in the workplace
1 in 5 take time off to deal with menopausal symptoms
1 in 50 are on long term sick leave
In surgical menopause you may experience just a few menopause symptoms while others may experience all 34. Symptoms can vary hugely in duration, severity and the impact they have.
So how can menopause impact work?
Managing symptoms in the workplace can be challenging, especially so as surgical menopause is so sudden and often occurs at an unexpected age. Well-meaning comments such as ‘you’re too young for menopause’ or ‘it’s a bit early for hot flushes’ can you leave you feeling misunderstood and isolated.
Perhaps you feel embarrassed or unable to speak with your employer/team about your symptoms, or you may be in an environment where job requirements are worsening your symptoms, for example having to wear a uniform or having limited access to a toilet.
Whatever your situation, it’s important to remember that no one should struggle in silence and your best is good enough. You may find yourself questioning your ability to do your role but over time you will find ways of managing symptoms and regain your confidence in the workplace.
Going to work when you’re struggling with menopausal symptoms can feel like a constant battle. Whether you’re exhausted from insomnia, relentless hot flushes and night sweats, or concerned about how memory issues and brain fog are impacting your ability to do your role, we’re right behind you.
Our advice to you is to ask for help. If you’re not comfortable speaking with your manager or team, speak to HR. Let them know what is going on so that they can offer you guidance and support. If you speak with HR and they’re not supportive of you, we’d recommend contacting a union rep, occupational health (if you have one) or speaking with your GP. We know first-hand how difficult it can be to begin these conversations. If your employer doesn’t know much about menopause point them to the following links, it’s your employers responsibility to know and understand how menopause may impact their workforce.
CIPD - The Menopause at work
BMS - Menopause and the workplace guidance
Tips for getting those menopause conversations started: