Steph Wiggans, Solicitor at Napthens, on the importance of having a supportive work environment for people experiencing symptoms around the menopause.
The conversation around menopause in the workplace is growing louder. It is now imperative that organisations begin to consider how menopausal symptoms can impact on individuals who are experiencing them in the workplace.
Why is creating a supportive and open environment between employer and those affected by the menopause important? Having an effective strategy to assist individuals with menopause symptoms can:
- Avoid staff losing confidence in their abilities and skills
- Reduce the risk of staff having increased mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression
- Less likely that staff will need to take time off and hide the reasons for this
- Staff are less likely to leave their job
Around 6 in 10 say menopause symptoms affect their performance at work. So how, as an employer, can you help support staff through the menopause and boost performance and productivity?
- Support staff
Encouraging early conversations with staff and creating solutions to problems before they arise is key. Make it known that staff have an open space to talk about their struggles and symptoms. Consider whether adjustments can be made to a person’s job role and their responsibilities to accommodate their symptoms. For example, consider – can the employee take regular toilet breaks, do they work long shifts and could this be changed etc?
- Train managers
Ensure managers have had specific training to deal with staff who want to talk about the effects of the menopause. Managers should have training to gain knowledge of the menopause and its effects, how to talk and listen sensitively and know where in the organisation they can direct an employee for guidance and support.
- Implement a menopause policy
A specific policy for the menopause will help staff to feel supported. The policy will encourage understanding of the menopause amongst all staff and how it impacts people. The policy should cover what measures the organisation is taking to support staff and explain who the organisation’s point of contact for menopause-related queries is. The QCS Resource Centre contains a Menopause Policy and employers should familiarise themselves with the content of this.
- Health and safety checks
For staff affected by the menopause, any risk assessment should include ensuring that their symptoms are not exacerbated by their workplace or policies. For the menopause, any risk assessment should look at the workspace in terms of temperature and ventilation, if the organisations uniform is suitable, if cold drinking water is available if the toilet facilities are easily accessible etc.
- Menopause and wellbeing champions
A menopause or wellbeing champion could provide a point of contact to staff who are looking for advice or an initial point of contact if employees feel uncomfortable speaking with their managers. The champion could organise workshops to raise awareness of the menopause, communicate the support available such as sending newsletters, create a staff support network or direct staff to external support providers.