Employment

How to make your workplace menopause friendly

Menopause friendly workplaces can bring benefits to everyone, not just older women. Here's how to make progress.

Serious mature 60 year old businesswoman using laptop with young indian female and businessman mentor signing contract in office at meeting.

There are no reasons why more experienced women shouldn't remain in work with the right support. Image: Shutterstock

The British Standards Institution’s “Second Glass Ceiling” whitepaper is yet another reminder of the importance of addressing menopause in the workplace. There is no doubt that, left unaddressed, menopause represents a major barrier to career progression, enjoyment and fulfilment for many. The cost to the business as well as to individuals who feel unable to work through their menopause due to lack of support or understanding is far too high.

Awareness has grown exponentially in the last two years and most employers are aware it is no longer acceptable to not support menopause in the workplace. At the same time employees are increasingly aware of their right ask for help and expect to receive it.

But how, in the words of the white paper, can you turn ambition into action? Just where do employers start? And what can you, as an employee, do to help?

Helping your employer become menopause friendly

Like any awkward personal conversation, it can be tricky knowing where to start. But, once you get talking, it becomes easier, people share their thoughts and feelings and any difficulties can start to resolve.

A good way to break the ice is to ask your employer to host a talk or training session from an outside speaker to take the onus off colleagues to start the ball rolling. It will help to lift the lid on the issue and open the dialogue allowing your colleagues’ concerns to be voiced so your employer understands what’s getting in the way of people being at their best at work.

With the subject out in the open, advocates and allies will usually come forwards: they are key to cascading information and support others who may feel less confident about speaking out. Remember to involve senior male managers, young men and women too: menopause is a whole workplace issue!

Getting started

Simple, inexpensive adjustments such as offering flexible working hours, a relaxed uniform or workplace clothing, having access to cool water and a quiet breakout room, free toiletries to freshen up, well-ventilated desks and desk fans can all make a massive difference.

Training menopause mentors and champions and providing resources on a company intranet will give people confidential access to vital support, information and signposting.

Keeping it going

Having got the conversation started, keep the drumbeat going with regular talks and drop-in sessions. Update workplace resources and send engaging, inclusive comms to maintain awareness and remind everyone that menopause in the workplace is something to talk about and act upon every day.



Recognising a menopause friendly employer

As an employee, you can tell a lot about an organisation that is menopause friendly and can trust its culture, care of employees and approach to diversity and inclusion. Indeed, we are hearing of people who will actively seek out an employer who is menopause friendly. And, even more telling, of people who leave a menopause friendly employer and introduce policies and good practice at their new job!

It’s important to know that it isn’t enough for an employer just to have a pledge or a policy in place.  These are a good start but often fall short of demonstrating action and change. A truly menopause friendly employer should be able to demonstrate they:

  • support menopause in the workplace
  • are committed to creating a culture where it’s easy to talk about menopause
  • offer support if needed
  • upskill colleagues and line managers on how to support someone
  • consider the physical workplace environment and make adjustments 

If you’re very lucky, they’ll be working towards or will have achieved the industry-recognised Menopause Friendly Accreditation and might even have won a Menopause Friendly Employer Award!

We have been providing employers with a supportive framework to success for over seven years. Menopause Friendly membership makes it easier for employers to achieve the recommendations through the provision of training, workshops, events, resources and practical tools needed to become a menopause friendly workplace. In that time, we have seen some amazing employers go on to achieve The Menopause Friendly Accreditation which has required standards that are consistent, supportive and inclusive of the BSI guidelines.

Taking action

All the talk, recommendations and plans mean nothing without commitment and action. Yes, employers need to step up to support their colleagues.  But employees need to take courage from the current climate where menopause in the workplace is being openly talked about to voice their concerns, seek help and bring about change.

This is important not only for this generation of older employees working through their menopause: it’s vital for generations to come. Keeping today’s 45-65 year olds in work will help pave the way for younger colleagues to have a smoother path whether they are working through menopause or supporting a colleague to thrive.

Deborah Garlick is chief executive of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace.

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