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How to talk about menopause at work.





It's becoming common knowledge that perimenopausal/menopausal women are the biggest demographic in the workforce, however, I was shocked to discover that almost 8 out of 10 of these women don't feel comfortable disclosing their menopause symptoms at work (1), despite 47% of women experiencing perimenopause/menopause related symptoms that disrupt their lives (2).


Whilst some women could feel embarrassed and reluctant to discuss their symptoms, I'm sure that most of us would be grateful if our manager took a general interest in what was happening to us, rather than remaining silent. After all, talking about it normalises it, and it is a very normal, natural part of life that shouldn't still be shrouded in mystery. 


With 13% of women indicating in a recent Korn Ferry and Vira Health survey (2023), that they quit their jobs due to their perimenopause/menopause symptoms and tribunals citing menopause increasing year on year (3), we should be looking at ways we can break the taboo and make menopause mainstream in the workplace.


One of the ways we can do this is by creating workplaces where women feel comfortable talking about their menopause, and having line managers who know how to respond to them and support them.


How to talk about menopause


Educate Yourself

Take the time to understand the possible physical and emotional symptoms, the affects this can have on an individual and the potential impact this could have at work. Doing this will help you approach the conversation with empathy and understanding.


Choose the Right Setting

Make sure the conversation takes place in a private and comfortable setting where the employee feels safe and supported. Make a list of the key points you want to address, and the appropriate time and setting for the conversation. 


Listen and Ask Questions

Proactively listen when they talk about how they feel or what they're going through. It's important to keep in mind that not everyone might want to talk about certain symptoms or feelings. It's also important to remember that everyone's menopause is different so don't make assumptions about what they are experiencing. 


Some useful questions to ask:


  • How can I best help you?

  • Do you think your menopause symptoms affect your ability to do your day-to-day work?

  • Is there anything specific at work that increases your symptoms?

  • Is there anything that could be done differently at work that would make it easier to manage your symptoms?


Offer Support

Be proactive in offering support and reasonable adjustments. This might include flexible working, access to a cooler workspace or fan, breaks when needed, or other adjustments to assist with symptoms like hot flushes or fatigue. Make sure to personalise support based on individual needs, as what works for one person may not for another. Consider that some transgender and non-binary people will require support and flexibility relevant to their needs.


Follow Up and Check-In

Regularly check in with the employee to see how they are managing. Show ongoing support and flexibility, as menopausal symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. Doing this shows your commitment to their well-being and helps create a more supportive and understanding workplace culture.


If someone tells you about their menopausal symptoms, this should be treated as confidential. If they want information about their condition to be shared, consent must be explicit. You should discuss with them who will be told and by whom, as well as the information they do or don’t want shared with colleagues. 




It's The Small Things

Often a few simple changes to the working environment can make a massive difference. By being aware and offering the right support, organisations can create an environment where women can continue to thrive at work through this transition and beyond.


We Can Help

For details of our Menopause Awareness for Managers workshops and other training to support your female staff, visit: www.menospace.co.uk or email us at hello@menospace.co.uk


References:

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