A quarter of menopausal women have considered quitting work
Two-thirds of women lack workplace support, says poll; experts urge managers to offer more help for older employees
A new survey had revealed that two-thirds of women going through the menopause have no support in place at work.
The survey by ITV’s Tonight programme, in collaboration with charity Wellbeing of Women, also revealed that a quarter (25 per cent) of women currently going through the menopause had considered leaving work because of their experiences.
A further half of the women surveyed for last week’s episode – The Truth About the Menopause – said that menopausal symptoms were making their working lives worse.
“This isn’t just a taboo which needs to be broken, it’s an occupational health issue,” wrote presenter Julie Etchingham. More than four-fifths (85 per cent) of women surveyed by ITV said they believed there should be occupational health guidelines for menopausal workers to mitigate symptoms such as hot flushes, insomnia, and anxiety.
Simple support strategies could increasing the flexibility of working hours and working arrangements, improving the temperature and ventilation in workplaces, and offering better access to informal and formal sources of support.
“One nurse we interviewed had been allowed to wear a uniform of made of a different fabric to help with her with her hot flushes: we also spoke to one senior detective who had been able to change her career plans and working hours to adapt to the fact her sleep patterns had altered so drastically: otherwise she would have had to give up work altogether,” wrote Etchingham.
Amanda Griffiths, professor of occupational health psychology at the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said employers could also work to increase managers’ awareness of the menopause and its effects on women at work. She said: “The changes required to provide these improvements need not be costly or complicated. It is important, however, that women feel empowered to speak openly about their health issues and to ask for help.”
Employers need to encourage staff to talk openly about the issue, said Griffiths. “There is a general reluctance to talk about health issues, particularly sensitive ones, at work – but people are getting better at this,” she said. “However, managers need to create a culture where people feel able to disclose, and then managers will be in a position to help. Health problems are, after all, normal.
The Faculty of Occupational Medicine (FOM) has recently launched guidance on managing the menopause in the workplace. Dr Richard Heron, president of FOM, said the practical steps organisations can take to support women are “what you’d expect [of] any employer who seeks to attract and retain and diverse and inclusive workforce.”
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