How to get your workplace menopause friendly?
Mentioning the word menopause has always been associated with shame and embracement and aging, I could go on. However, we all should remember that this is a natural human biological process that all women and men (yes, they have their own challenges) go through.
The symptoms of women can be so intrusive they can lead to a lack of confidence and women can often become less engaged at work, feel like they are letting colleagues down, dissatisfied with their own job performance, and it can lead to lower levels of commitment to projects due to lack of concentration and fluctuating energy levels due to lack of sleep.
Brain fog for many women and the cognitive changes seem to have the biggest impact on home and working environment. Concentration, memory problems, forgetting people’s names, searching for words and inability to think clearly are classic symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause due to lower estrogen and testosterone. It can feel like you are losing your mind at times and can be a challenge with a demanding job.
Only half of women disclose the real reasons for absence to their line managers, when taking time off work to deal with their symptoms, because they feel embarrassed to ask for help One in ten women considered giving up work due to their menopausal symptoms or consider alternatives like
Want to reduce their hours
Quit work altogether
Not put themselves forward for promotion
Call in sick more often
It’s no surprise that so many find work difficult due to symptoms of menopause 70 -80% of women feel that menopausal symptoms have a negative impact on their working life due to:
Lack of concentration
Low reduced confidence
In recent years more organizations are finally paying attention and putting in place a menopause policy to ensure the health and safety of all employees.
Employers are now waking up and realizing that if the menopause is handled correctly and sensitively it helps to reduce absenteeism and keeps professional experienced women in the workplace.
Here are practical solutions to help both employer and employee create a happier and more productive working environment.
For the Employer
It will go a long way to put a simple menopause policy in place, employers should be supporting menopausal women as part of a holistic approach to employees health and wellbeing.
Remember every woman's menopause is different some women have mild symptoms others endure symptoms for several years.
Listen carefully to each woman and be prepared to tailor any support.
Menopause is not an illness and does not need managing, but having simple polices and strategies in place such as:
Menopause awareness training can help employee’s female and male understand the basics of the menopause issues that can arise and what they can do to help.
If you have a work internal Internet site, create a women’s wellness page, menopause page with information on the cause, symptoms, treatments and coping strategies include links to further medical advice
Give employees time and space to meet with others to share experiences swap suggestions for ways of coping and as a place to raise issues for employers
Having the flexibility to move desks, employers should review workplace temperature and ventilation to see how they might be adapted making sure your workstation is near an opening window or away from a heat source
Consider flexible working hours or shift changes. If sleep is disturbed,
Later start times might be helpful.
Provide desk top fan
Access to cold drinks i.e., water stations
Access to washrooms / changing rooms where a spare change of clothing can be kept
Access to a quiet space
Flexibility to go take a walk
For the Employee – How to approach colleagues and self-help strategies
Of course, it’s a personal choice to open to colleagues about your symptoms. This can be a crucial first step in securing the support you need. By starting the conversation, you may also be helping other women who are experiencing the same challenges. There is a lot of work to be done in the workplace and having that additional support from the employer is great combine that with simple strategies you can put in place to help you get through the day will also be of great benefit.
First ask your manager/HR for a meeting this is a chance to outline your symptoms and request changes to your daily work.
Have a few concrete examples of how your symptoms might be affecting your work and what might be exacerbating the symptoms, working in a stuffy room/office, cumbersome uniforms
Avoid early morning meetings if you are suffering from insomnia
Don’t have back-to-back meetings, give yourself a break a time to breath and regain your thoughts.
Work diary on your phone to set reminders for important things.
Prepare some note cards in advance for meetings
Take those lunch breaks and use them for eating and relaxing only
Make post it notes your best friend
Set up your day- Tackle big projects in the mornings if you feel this is when your energy/ concentration is at its highest.
15-minute relaxation exercise helps concentration and reduced stress in the afternoon
Are there any lifestyle changes you can adjust to help with stress and symptoms?
Choose the right exercise
Have a healthy eating regime
Practice meditation and breathing exercises
CBT could be worth exploring to combat anxiety and low mood
Quick tips to make your day a happier one!
Wear breathable clothing or layers
Notification alarms set and on
Daily tasks prioritized in order
Set break times in your calendar
Desk fan to hand
Find a quiet space to eat and relax during break times or go for a walk
Desk to be in natural light near a window or ventilation
Reduce caffeine especially right before meetings
Don’t eat spicy foods if you are suffering from hot flushes
Water bottle with cold water always at hand
It is important to be aware that the menopause is a natural and temporary stage in women’s lives and that not all women experience significant symptoms. The menopause has been regarded as a taboo subject. But this is changing as employers gradually acknowledge the potential impact of the menopause on women and become aware of the simple steps, they can take to be supportive.
If you would like more information on implementing a menopause policy in your workplace or educational workshops Email me Hi@sharonjamescoaching.com