Tackling the unseen impact of the menopause

Menopausal woman
HR / Menopause

Tackling the unseen impact of the menopause

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The UK workforce is evolving, with menopausal women emerging as the fastest-growing demographic group in employment and education. This shift has thrust menopause support into the spotlight, becoming a top priority for organisations looking to attract and retain talent.

This is an important step forward, not only for women in the workforce, but also for organisations striving to enhance diversity in leadership roles. This support is also very needed, which is underscored by our data revealing that a staggering 44% of women going through the menopause feel overwhelmed by their work and personal lives. Additionally, three out of five women have encountered negative workplace experiences related to menopause, and a third have taken sick leave due to its symptoms.

Main symptoms

The main challenge with menopause support is that the concept is relatively new and companies are still learning how best to assist employees. In addition, the taboo and limited awareness surrounding menopause has contributed to most support only addressing the more straightforward symptoms. For instance, beyond changes in menstrual cycle, eight out of ten women experience common menopausal symptoms, including hot flushes, vaginal discomfort, and night sweats. Many organisations are taking important and commendable steps to alleviate these issues by offering flexibility, such as remote work options, sick leave policies, and workplace adjustments like flexible hours.

However, addressing the most prevalent symptoms is only part of the issue, as it overlooks the indirect and more overlooked impacts of menopause. For instance, nearly 30% of Wellness Cloud users going through the menopause also report struggling with their mental health. Cognitive symptoms such as memory lapses, low mood, and anxiety can erode an employee’s confidence, reduce their job satisfaction, and affect their workload management. Many women also grapple with “brain fog,” making daily work tasks more challenging.

Indirect impacts

The indirect challenges of menopause also have a spill over effect onto employees’ personal lives. In fact, 21% of those seeking menopause consultations with us also book therapy or relationship counselling sessions, which highlights that when your overall health and wellbeing is compromised, it can strain family and home life. To ensure effective menopause support, it is important to address mental health alongside it with effective support initiatives.

Physical health also comes into play, with approximately 53% of our menopause-afflicted users reporting physical health issues. Menopausal individuals often grapple with diminished appetite, weight fluctuations, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, among other concerns. These issues can significantly impact overall health, wellbeing, and workplace performance.

Furthermore, 19% of our users seeking menopause consultations also book sessions related to nutrition or sleep, indicating a clear connection between these issues. Numerous studies have highlighted how specific dietary choices can alleviate menopause symptoms, or how hormonal changes during menopause can disrupt sleep patterns. Consequently, organisations should consider ways to support employees in maintaining their physical health and wellbeing, in addition to addressing menopause symptoms directly.

Holistic approach

Mental and physical health are linked and, when looking at these overlaps in symptoms, it becomes evident that addressing direct menopause symptoms in isolation could result in missing a big range of unseen impacts. By embracing a more holistic approach to support, we can make a profound difference in employees’ work and home lives, as well as demonstrate a genuine commitment to employee wellbeing. In addition, recognising each employee’s unique experience with the menopause can massively help in retaining and championing employees in your organisation. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to menopause support, and any support policies introduced should reflect the diversity of their direct and indirect experiences.