Almost all women will experience some symptoms of the menopause, some women more severely than others. It usually starts between the ages of 40-45. Symptoms usually last for approximately 4 years but can go on for up to 12 years. The symptoms can have a significant impact on the employee’s attendance and/or performance. Some of the main symptoms are:
- Hot flushes
- Changes in mood (e.g. feeling anxious, irritable or tired)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Poor memory
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
It is important to support an employee going through the menopause, and there are many ways to do this. Your Company should have a safe, supportive and inclusive culture where employees experiencing menopausal symptoms feel able to talk to each other and their Managers about symptoms and available support. In addition to this, there are reasonable adjustments you can make for women going through the menopause.
Temperature control – having air conditioning in the office that can be adjusted will be beneficial, or desk fans that an employee can use when they have a hot flush
Dress code/Uniforms – if employees wear tight-fitting clothes or uniforms, the dress code may need to be relaxed for employees experiencing the menopause, particularly if they suffer from hot flushes. This can help to improve symptoms which in turn boosts the employee’s performance
Flexible working – this can really help employees who suffer from difficulty sleeping and night sweats, or who have severe symptoms. By letting them start work later, or allowing them to work from home, this can allow them to better manage their pain, decrease absence, etc.
If an employee is really struggling, and getting severe symptoms, it’s important to encourage the employee to speak to a GP, to get the right help for them. There are also many support groups available.
It is also good practice to incorporate a Menopause Policy in the Employee Handbook.
If you would like any advice on supporting employees going through the menopause, or have any questions around this topic, please contact one of the Westcountry HR team today!