Supporting employees through menopause when working remotely

In many respects, menopausal symptoms can be easier to manage for workers working from home than in an office. But, even where that’s the case, employees with menopausal symptoms will still need, and often value, employer-led support, writes Alaana Woods.

In the UK, it is estimated there are nine million women aged between 40 and 60 who may be experiencing the numerous symptoms of menopause.

The reality is that many women struggle to manage the physiological change their bodies are going through. A quarter of menopausal women will experience debilitating symptoms; from heavy bleeding to increased anxiety, and for some it forces them out of the workplace completely.

Last year, Bupa Health Clinics conducted research that found almost one million women have left a job because of symptoms of menopause, exposing UK businesses to the loss of experienced female talent.

And, whilst the Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses to close their offices and entrust their workforce to work from home, women’s health needs must continue to be supported.

While menopausal symptoms may be easier to manage at home, women still need support and to be able to open up about what they’re experiencing, as well as take breaks when they need and get access essential services, even if remotely.

Here, then, are five ways we’d argue businesses can continue to support employees with menopause whilst working remotely.

1) Break the taboo. The symptoms of menopause can be embarrassing, and many women don’t feel comfortable opening up about what they’re experiencing. Ensure managers and team members, particularly male colleagues, feel educated and comfortable discussing the topic.

To do this, make sure line manager and manager training is up to date. This can be done through online learning platforms, through manager’s guides, checklists, information leaflets, internal webinars and campaigns. These all help to break down taboos and start conversations.

2) Consider the mental health implications. While managing the symptoms of menopause may be easier at home, the pressures of the pandemic may have had a mental health impact on many women and combined with menopause symptoms, may contribute to rises in anxiety and low moods.

This is where many women may need support and having access to EAPs or mental health first aiders who women can contact anytime, anywhere, is incredibly important.

3) Create conversations. Don’t just rely on team members experiencing menopause to start discussions. Instead, find ways to open these topics across the organisation.

Awareness days are a great way to normalise and encourage conversation. It’s a way off yet, but in this context World Menopause Day every October may be one to be getting into the diary as an opportunity to think about what you can do within your organisation to break the taboo.

For example, an online webinar, encouraging people to share stories or raising awareness through internal communications are all good ways to make people aware of symptoms and signpost to services and polices that can provide support, advice and help.

4) Be flexible. A common symptom of menopause is night sweats, which can lead to lack of sleep and fatigue.

Make sure you’re flexible to your team’s needs, especially when working from home. This may mean allowing them to work hours which suit them and be flexible if they need to change meetings.

5) Continue to provide access to services. Even though many companies are currently operating remotely, out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind when it comes to menopause.

Women need access to remote healthcare services, in particular virtual GP services, so they can still get support and treatment from a medical professional.

For example, last year we upskilled a number of our doctors in our health clinics with further menopause training, a move that we continued into 2020 and will be doing this year as well.

We’ve also trained our “Anytime Healthline” nurses specifically on the menopause so they can support customers with managing and understanding symptoms.

Finally, we will be launching a new menopause service in the coming months which is GP-led and delivered via video or phone. This enables us to give our customers up to an hour’s consultation with a menopause-trained doctor, along with support for a year after the appointment.

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