Sometimes we get lucky, and menopause is a breeze. Other times, and for most women, it's not. Unfortunately, up to a third of women will experience severe menopausal symptoms that can impact their quality of life.
Women often report having more trouble controlling their symptoms at work as they may feel embarrassed and hesitant to disclose what they're going through.
The most commonly reported difficulties that menopausal women report at work include lack of concentration, tiredness, poor memory, feelings of depression, and lowered levels of confidence.
As imagined, managing the dreaded symptoms of menopause in the workplace is often challenging and stressful.
Actions to take
Don't be afraid to make reasonable adjustments with your employer, such as:
- Working from home for a few days a week to be more comfortable when dealing with symptoms
- Request a different uniform if you are experiencing hot flashes
- Changing your desk to a cooler part of the office or asking for a fan
If you have supportive work colleagues and feel comfortable sharing your experiences with them, you may find that you're not alone.
Menopause is a natural part of aging, so don't feel embarrassed to ask for these adjustments.
How your employer can support you
If your symptoms are severely affecting your capability to work, find time to speak with your manager and have an honest conversation with them.
Although we know that opening up to someone in a professional environment may feel awkward, especially if your manager is someone you don't feel comfortable talking to about personal matters, it's essential to use your voice.
The more women speak up about how menopause affects them, the more steps employers will take to prioritize their employees' health and well-being.
If you don't feel comfortable speaking to your manager, try reaching out to a different team member or going directly to human resources (HR).
Before speaking to someone, brainstorm a list of feasible solutions that could help improve your situation at work. Having a list ready shows that you care about how your health affects your performance and that you are solution-oriented.
If you are a manager
There are a lot of resources available that can help you understand more about menopause and the support you need to provide.
You might want to consider offering the following options for employees:
- Flexible working such as working from home
- The possibility of taking more regular breaks
- An area of workspace designed/adapted to women's needs (with some fans, windows, or AC).
We know navigating health and work situations may be daunting, but you'll feel better once you raise these concerns at your workplace. Have the courage to be vulnerable; you've got this!
Also, men in the office should be engaged in discussions and training even if the menopause will only affect women and those with menstrual cycles. They might help their colleagues to feel more comfortable.
These are clear, compelling reasons for supporting menopausal women in the workplace. It supports an inclusive culture and is good for colleagues. It’s a win-win for all.