A recent Channel 4 documentary with Davina McCall highlighted the subject of the menopause and investigated the myths and truths surrounding the use of HRT in the treatment of the symptoms of perimenopause and the menopause. Lots of people have some familiarity with the main symptoms like hot flushes and irregular periods however it is some of the less familiar symptoms that can have the largest impact on a person’s life, and indeed the lives of those around them. Aside from the personal life of an individual going through this period of their life, the symptoms can have a profound effect on the behaviour of menopausal women which can impact on their ability, or their perceived ability, to do their job.
51% of the population of the UK is female, and service industries like retail often employ more women than men. The menopause can have such an impact on an individual, both mentally and physically that behaviour changes and circumstances become more challenging. Knowing the potential symptoms can help identify changes in behaviour as a result of the menopause, and help you to deal with any situation in a supportive and positive way to benefit both the individual and the business, therefore increasing engagement and loyalty, and potentially reducing sickness rates. Employers have a legal obligation to ensure working conditions do not exacerbate someone’s symptoms. According to the CIPD “Someone with menopausal symptoms should be supported in the same way as an employee with any ongoing health condition. Small adjustments to someone’s job or working pattern can help people manage their symptoms and continue to perform well in their role…. Adjustments might include:
• moving someone’s desk or work station away from a heat source
• flexible working arrangements
• adapting uniforms or providing more spares
• providing fans and access to cool drinking water”
There are many physical symptoms, but additionally a number of symptoms that can affect mental health, so in relation to the potential impact in a work situation here are a selection of other symptoms:
· Mood Swings – these can affect up to 27% of women
· Pain in joints – making moving more difficult
· Anxiety – this can affect 1 in 3 menopausal women
· Insomnia – affecting a person’s energy levels
· Difficulty in concentrating
· Fatigue – up to 25% of women suffer from fatigue during menopause
· Memory lapses
· Stress incontinence – caused by physical activities like lifting
· Panic disorder
Some women suffer so much they feel obliged to leave their jobs because the symptoms become overwhelming, so it’s up to us as business owners to arm ourselves with knowledge and to open up conversations with our team to ensure that we deal with the menopause in a sympathetic supportive manner. It is important that we include everyone in the conversations where possible, including young people and males, so that team members understand what the potential consequences of the menopause could be on the behaviour of other team members, and this means having frank and open conversations which may be difficult for some people.
Further help and support is available from a number of resources, but have a look at https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/culture/well-being/menopause and https://menopauseintheworkplace.co.uk/articles/menopause-and-work-its-important/ for more information.