Dear HR Managers: Here's why menopause training for managers should be a top HR priority

Menopause affects over one billion people worldwide. This represents a significant portion of the workforce. This article will take you through why menopause training for managers is crucial in supporting your menopausal employees and creating an inclusive workplace, as well as from a business point of view.

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In this article, we use the terms 'woman' and 'women' when referring to menopause. We want to acknowledge that this is meant to encompass anyone with a uterus, and that we recognise that some people might not identify as a woman but will still experience menopause and its symptoms.

By 2030, it's estimated that 1.2 billion women worldwide will be menopausal or postmenopausal. A significant proportion of these women will be working in full time employment, whilst going through menopause.

Research shows that almost a quarter (23%) of women have considered quitting due to the impact of menopause or menstrual symptoms at work, and over one in ten (14%) are actively planning to quit. With proper workplace support and manager training for menopause in place, we can help make this better.

The menopause transition is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman's reproductive years. But despite this inevitable physiological transition, there remains a taboo around menopause in many workplaces.

Understanding and addressing the needs of all employees, including those experiencing menopause, is crucial for creating a supportive and inclusive work environment.

What exactly is menopause?

Menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45-55, although it can occur earlier or later for some people. It is defined as the permanent end of menstruation. However, the menopause transition, also known as perimenopause, which can span several years leading up to menopause, is typically when physical and psychological symptoms start to show. For some women, perimenopause starts in their late 30s, but for most, it will start between 40-45. Common physical symptoms of menopause include hot flushes (or hot flashes), night sweats, vaginal dryness, and changes in libido. Menopausal women may also experience psychological symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. These symptoms can vary in severity and duration and often impact women's daily lives and overall quality of life.

In a survey of nearly 500 perimenopausal and menopausal women, 87% experienced tiredness, a lack of energy, brain fog, or difficulty concentrating.

Every woman is unique, and the symptoms and challenges associated with menopause can vary widely from person to person. Navigating through an already challenging time is made more difficult when people feel like they can't speak about what they're experiencing or ask for support from work when they need it.

This is where manager training, and a strong menopause policy, come in. Recognising and accommodating the experiences of menopausal women in the workplace is essential for promoting their overall wellbeing and job satisfaction. It's an important step in creating an inclusive workplace where every person can bring their full selves to work.

How can menopause impact women at work?

The impact of menopause extends beyond the physical and psychological menopausal symptoms experienced by women during this transitional period. It can impact how well people do their jobs and how happy they feel at work. If someone is dealing with some of the difficult side effects, like hot flushes and night sweats, they might not get enough sleep and feel tired and less focused at work.

The cognitive symptoms like having trouble concentrating or experiencing brain fog can make daily tasks that were normally relatively easy, feel suddenly quite overwhelming. The psychological symptoms of menopause, like feeling anxious or just out of sorts, can also add stress and affect mental health, and cause employees going through menopause to lose confidence in themselves and their work.

The importance of menopause training for managers

Managers play an important role in fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace environment for all employees, especially when it comes to menopause. Though not a new experience for women, we have seen more and more workplaces open up conversations about menopause.

We don't expect that managers will know everything about it, or know exactly how to support their employees through it. This is why training is so important!

Offering menopause training for managers will give them an awareness of symptoms and their potential impact on female employees' wellbeing and job performance. Some examples of training that your company could implement are:

1. Menopause awareness sessions: These sessions could cover the main symptoms and potential effect on employees

2. Menopause training sessions, or menopause awareness training: This would give managers the tools to properly support their menopausal employees

3. Menopause resources: This could be in the form of a section on your company's portal, containing informational articles, supportive tools, external resources, any wellness programmes, and FAQs that both employees and managers can access whenever needed. This is also where you could include your company's menopause policy!

4. Appointing a menopause champion: Allocate someone in your team to be the menopause champion. This person would undergo extra training to be the point of contact for menopause-related questions, as well as oversee any support and resources given to employees.

It's important to open up conversations around menopause in the workplace, guided by these training sessions. Training equips people managers with the skills to engage in sensitive conversations with their team members and direct them to relevant menopause resources for additional support. As team leaders, managers should be able to implement necessary workplace adjustments, to offer employees a more understanding and accommodating work environment.

Creating a supportive environment for your employees

Creating a menopause-friendly workplace involves more than just raising awareness of menopause symptoms. It requires your company to implement policies and practices that take positive steps towards supporting menopausal women and providing reasonable adjustments to accommodate their needs. For example, you can offer flexible working arrangements, such as working from home or flexible hours, to accommodate women experiencing menopause-related symptoms. Providing access to quiet rest areas or allowing breaks during the workday can help women manage symptoms such as fatigue and hot flushes.

Your company can also provide informational resources on menopause, such as brochures or online materials, and establish support networks or employee resource groups for menopausal women to connect and share experiences. Showing your employees that you genuinely care about their wellbeing and are taking steps towards supporting them will improve employee retention, enhance job satisfaction, and promote a positive and inclusive work culture.

If you're looking for more information on how to support your employees through menopause, we've written a guide that explains the different stages and symptoms of menopause, how it can impact people’s lives, and the changes you can make to better support women in your workplace. There are a ton of other guides for HR managers surrounding menopause that can be found here.

Menopause policy

Take the extra step in creating menopause policy for your company, where employees can see exactly what support is being offered, and what reasonable adjustments they can ask for. If you don't know where to start, we have a great article that takes you through everything you need to know when writing a menopause policy.

To sum it all up, addressing the needs of menopausal employees in the workplace is essential for promoting their overall wellbeing, job satisfaction, and productivity. It's also essential for employee retention. The first step in addressing these needs is to offer menopause training sessions for managers at your company. This will raise awareness of menopause-related issues and equip managers with the knowledge and skills to support their team members effectively.

By creating a supportive and inclusive environment for menopausal women, your company can begin to break down the stigma and taboo surrounding menopause, create space for sensitive conversations, and foster a culture of openness, understanding, and respect. A workplace where menopausal women feel supported and can talk about their symptoms freely can make a really big difference in helping them manage their menopause.

If you're looking to put menopause support and benefits in place, book in a call below with our team who can talk you through how to work with Fertifa.

Menopause support matters – to your people and to your business 💜