Supporting Menopause in the Workplace

At Simpila Mental Health we like to support people to think differently about Menopause.

Just a few changes in the working environment can make the world of difference to the working women of today.

Despite the menopause being something that every woman will go through, every single woman’s relationship with menopause is unique and different. With all of the technological innovations, medical revolutions and the world now having an abundance of data, you would think we’d be on top of the hot topic of the menopause by now.

With people in the public eye like Davina McCall and Michelle Obama talking openly about the impact the menopause has had on them, raising awareness of one of the long-lasting taboos, and helping to de-mystify and ultimately de-stigmatise the conversation. 

During our training sessions on this subject we are being asked by men how they can better support women in the workplace with this natural stage of their lives.  We are making progress, albeit slowly. 

For organisations the menopause can pose an issue – women make up just over half of the UK workforce and nearly 8 out of 10 menopausal women are in work. Almost a million women have left their job, while others are forced to take long-term absence from work because of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, night sweats, erratic sleep patterns and increased anxiety.

A few simple changes to the working environment can often make a world of difference – even just having a platform to talk about the menopause openly can help to reduce the impact of some symptoms and enable people to continue to perform well in their jobs. Women should be able to do their jobs in comfort and not feel stigmatised. There should be no need for women to press the pause button on their careers because of a this naturally occurring life event.

To help you to build a better working environment we offer  the following simple tips: 

  • Encourage Employees to Talk about menopause. Find those in your workplace you feel comfortable to chat with, and have an open discussion. Discussing the challenges can help to make the right adjustments to support your challenges.
  • Implement menopause champions – Train employees to become a menopause champion. Those who have experience of menopause and are comfortable talking about it make the best champions. In action, they are conversation-starters, a ‘listening ear’ and with training can signpost employees to get internal and external support. Champions can be instrumental in creating, facilitating, and embedding menopause initiatives, whilst contributing to the objectives of your organisation.
  • Have a supply of fresh, cool water to hand. A common symptom of menopause is hot flushes and night sweats, and these can lead to dehydration. If you exercise regularly and are getting sweaty, the combination of training and the menopause increases the risk of you becoming dehydrated.
  • Encourage a routine – I found that even when I’d had a difficult night’s sleep keeping my routine and getting outdoors for a walk in the morning helped, even if it was just for 15 minutes. I was more likely to sleep the following night.
  • Fill a hot water bottle with iced water and put it in your bed. Keep a cool, damp flannel by the side of your bed too and sleep with light sheets on and a window open.
  • Have a balanced diet– this has made a big impact on my menopause as well as my overall wellbeing. This isn’t for everyone but eating healthy and reducing alcohol intake will help.
  • Have a healthy and full breakfast. A good breakfast helps your brain and metabolism stay healthy – keeping you as alert as you can be. It also helps build your serotonin levels that drop through lack of sleep.
  • Find things to laugh at and enjoy. Fun and laughter replenish endorphins and serotonin.
  • Speak to your doctor. Many women will use HRT (Hormone Replacement Therapy), but this is not for all. Everyone is different, and some people may prefer herbal remedies, but exploring everything with your doctor is helpful, and if the HRT does not suit, go back and talk to your Doctor’s again.

For all those who are going or will go through menopause, I stand in support with each and every one of you, our clients and the wider community, as we continue to encourage employers to provide menopause awareness training that enhances flexible working approaches for women and an understanding  of a menopause policy for all. 

We all need to be allies in this – including men.

https://www.unison.org.uk/news/general-secretary-blog/2022/10/blog-the-menopause-really-is-a-workplace-issue/

We all have a choice. We can shrug our shoulders and dismiss it with unhelpful language like ‘well it’s just women’s problems, eh?’, or we can all embrace a new journey and learn about it, support each other and find solutions to manage this inevitable and natural human process that impacts on the lives of many working women.

We have carved out a new  ‘Menopause Awareness’(https://simpila.com/awareness-courses/) training session to help employers be better prepared and understand how employees are affected by the menopause in the workplace. 

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact us on training@simpila.com.

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