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It’s Time to Start Talking About Menopause at Work

Some of the topics are avoided when it comes to open discussion in the workplace and one of them is Menopause. Even though nearly half of the world’s population experiences this biological transition and half will experience in the future, which marks the end of a women’s menstrual cycle and fertility. 

 

Menopause usually occurs between the age of 45 to 55, which is also the leadership position age for women. Menopause usually lasts between 7-14 years, millions of postmenopausal women are coming into management and top leadership roles while experiencing mild to severe symptoms such as depression, anxiety, sleep deprivation and cognitive impairment, to name a few.

 

Some researchers suggest that workplace ageism also plays a part in the exclusion of menopausal symptoms from corporate health policies. Companies can be wary of hiring and or accommodating older employees’ health needs. “We find [aging women] kind of disposable or marginal — so it doesn’t surprise me that something that impacts older women in particular would be not only a discomfort, but a non-concern,” explained Chris Bobel, an associate professor of gender studies at UMass Boston.

 

When menopause hits to any women the symptoms faced has a sharp difference from when they were pregnant. Menopause has many symptoms which becomes an obstacle in ongoing professional growth like arriving late to meetings, forgetting what has been told just few minutes earlier.

 

Women get too afraid to discuss the difficulties with anyone at work, so makes excuses for their forgetfulness and backed off from a career-enhancing role. How could she take on a bigger challenge when she kept forgetting key details about the projects? “Moderating that high-profile panel, in front of 200 industry experts, should have been a career highlight. It was a disaster,” well quoted! 

 

In Enia’s case, her symptoms became so severe that two years of damaging 360-degree feedback and deteriorating results led to her dismissal. Today, she works as a diversity-and-inclusion consultant for organizations who are accommodating a broader range of women’s health issues. With a twist of irony, her former employer now engages Enia as a consultant. She’s happier and healthier than ever.

 

Managers can work to bring this issue into the daylight by focusing on its connection to employee well-being — after all, menopause is one of the many health issues that can contribute to stress and burnout.  Talk with the women and men on your team about how you might approach accommodation strategies like flexible work schedules, offering options to work from home, or providing company information sessions. Through active leadership support, an organization can begin to realize benefits in productivity, work culture, and the bottom line, when menopausal transition is addressed as a specific, work-related concern.

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Hot flushes, night sweats and brain fog can negatively impact productivity, engagement, and an organization’s bottom line. They can even force employees out of work altogether, and the government has faced repeated calls to make menopause a protected characteristic in UK legislation.

 

The company should be sensitive to the needs of employees experiencing the menopause and aim to facilitate flexible working wherever possible. Requests for flexible working can include additional breaks, a change to the pattern of hours worked, a reduction in working hours, or permission to work from home. This is one of the toughest situations a women go through while balancing personal and professional life, the company should be supportive as well spread awareness to each and every employees in each and every possible way.

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