Employee health is a primary priority for employers. A healthy workforce is more engaged, happy, and ultimately productive, and retention and morale soar when employers show that they care about employees.
While mental health, physical sickness, and ailments are often the focus of employee health, employers are now realizing the importance of addressing the very real effects that menopause has on their employees. The reality is that ALL women will go through it! Generally occurring between 45 and 55, menopause lasts about seven years but can last as long as 14 and considerably impact women’s lives.
How Employees Are Affected by Menopause
Physically, mentally, and emotionally, menopause can affect work performance:
- Is it hot in here? Hot flashes are sudden waves of heat that are incredibly uncomfortable. The worst part is that they often interrupt sleep, leading to fatigue and reduced productivity.
- Insomnia! The hormonal changes in the body and hot flashes can lead to endless nights of horrible sleep. Over time, this fatigue is draining and affects women mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- Sleep deprivation + hormones can affect cognitive function. This can mean trouble with multitasking, decision-making, and more.
- Confidence and mood swings. Sometimes, hormonal fluctuations can lead to mood swings and emotional sensitivity. In a work environment, this can affect communication and relationships.
- As you can imagine, these symptoms can easily lead to increased stress and anxiety levels and, ultimately…
- Self-confidence can be affected by a loss of assertiveness and low self-esteem.
This also doesn’t include the very real physical effects taking hold of the body. Every menopause journey is different, but an awareness of this time in a woman’s life helps employers to help them feel supported.
What Can Employers Do for Women Experiencing Menopausal Symptoms?
1. Create a comfortable environment
Hot flashes are no joke! Understanding them is critical to creating an environment where your employees can thrive. A hot flush is a sudden and intense feeling of heat that can spread throughout the body and can just be a mild warmth or extreme heat that can cause sweating, skin redness, and a rapid heartbeat. It generally starts with a sudden onset of heat rising from the chest and spreading to the face and neck and can be followed up with chills or shivering after the hot flush subsides. The frequency and duration differ for everyone, but they can last up to 30 minutes or longer.
What employers can do to help: ensure a workplace where the temperature is adjustable, there is adequate airflow – fans can help – and be flexible with employees needing to step outside to cool down.
How does this feel to an employee:
I had a client that experienced disruptive hot flashes at work. The sudden intense sweating, flushing, and quickened heartbeat make it difficult for her to focus on work tasks or meetings. Plus, she was self-conscious or embarrassed that sweat marks might show, or colleagues would comment on how red her face looked. This led to feelings of anxiety and embarrassment. Her sense of insecurity subsided in an environment where she could freely talk to her employer and key colleagues about her experience.
2. Get Informed and Offer Support
Just by reading this article, you are doing something! Being informed about menopause means understanding women’s challenges in the workplace during this pivotal time.
Employers can take it a step further and consider educating the management team about the symptoms, experiences, and impacts of menopause. Take the taboo out of menopause talk. Train managers and colleagues on recognizing, responding to, and supporting women experiencing menopause symptoms in the workplace. This can include education on identifying and supporting women experiencing menopause symptoms and strategies for managing any potential impacts on productivity.
Wellness support that is menopause specific can include access to counseling or coaching services that specialize in menopause management. It might be helpful to consult with healthcare professionals, partner with women’s health organizations, or seek research and best practices in menopause management in the workplace. Many women suffer from loss of libido and sexual dysfunction during menopause as well. By helping employees find medical support, they can discover solutions to these life-altering issues, like cutting-edge Cliovana, a simple, quick, non-invasive ultrasound solution for increased blood flow and lubrication the body needs to enjoy sex.
3. Revise Policies and Consider Flexible Working Arrangements
Employers should review their policies to ensure they are inclusive and considerate of menopause-related needs. It’s beneficial to include menopausal support in sick leave and accommodation policies and ensure that menopause-related concerns are included in workplace health and safety policies. If employers can provide health insurance plans that offer coverage for menopause-related treatments and therapies, such as hormone replacement therapy, counseling, and alternative therapies like acupuncture or yoga, make sure to communicate that to employees.
A little bit of understanding goes a long way. Employers should consider flexible working arrangements, such as remote or flexible hours. Several studies have found that offering employees flexible working arrangements leads to lower absenteeism rates and improved job satisfaction. In addition, companies that provide such benefits may be seen as progressive and supportive of women’s health and well-being, which can enhance their company’s image and attract new talent.
By implementing supportive measures and opening up the dialog around menopause, employers can do a lot to help employees feel supported, valued, and happier – which ultimately affects everyone in the workplace.
Christi Pramudji, MD, is a Female Urologist and Urogynecologist, female sexual wellness specialist, and Cliovana-trained expert, She is one of the first urologists in the country to receive board subspecialty certification in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, and she is the only Urologist in the state of Texas with a practice dedicated exclusively to female patients.