There are currently around 4.5 million women aged 50–64 in employment in the UK  and the vast majority of these will go through the menopause during their working lives.
For around two-thirds of these women, symptoms of the perimenopause and menopause can be hugely disruptive to their working lives. Research by the CIPD  in 2023 suggests that just over half of women going through the menopause had missed work because of their symptoms, and 17% had considered switching jobs to a lack of support with their symptoms at work.
This is worrying. For years, women over the age of 50 have been the fastest growing group in the workforce  and this looks set to continue. Without the correct support in place, organisations are likely to continue to lose a high proportion of often highly skilled and experienced individuals .
Unfortunately, the taboo and stigma that often exists around talking about the menopause, and women’s health in general, can only be tackled with a detailed approach. But there is hope! Many organisations are beginning to provide proactive and sustainable support to help to mitigate the potential negative impact that symptoms can have on both the individual and organisation.
But where do you start?
“Think about it Strategically”
Like implementing any new programme or change within your organisation, making sure that you have a detailed plan or strategy is key to ensuring its long-term success. This is no different when you’re looking to become a menopause friendly organisation.
Before diving right into it, it’s key to have a think about a few things:
- How will you secure senior leadership buy-in?
- How will you decide what menopause support your staff need?
- What policies do you currently have that will be linked to menopause?
This might seem like a lot, but don’t worry, I’ve delved a bit deeper into these questions below.
“Menopause?! Surely that isn’t a workplace issue?!”
Getting the buy-in of senior leadership isn’t always easy. Especially when it comes to health and wellbeing. However, for the successful implementation of a Menopause-Friendly Workplace Strategy, it is absolutely necessary to ensure that you can begin to nurture that menopause-friendly culture you are aiming for.
Do your research and present to senior leaders on the benefits of being a menopause-friendly organisation. Think about:
- What proportion of your workforce are likely to be going through the menopause now, and in the coming years?
- What is the health impact on your staff if you don’t make any changes, versus if you do?
- What is the financial impact on your business if you don’t make any changes, versus if you do? How much resource will you save in reduced sickness absence and staff turnover?
- What are your potential plans to becoming a menopause-friendly workplace? And importantly, how much is it likely to cost the organisation?
Having senior leadership buy-in is one of the first things you will need to ensure you don’t encounter numerous barriers in your journey to becoming a menopause-friendly workplace. Once you have this, you can start to get into more of the details around the specific support you can put in place.
“They’re on board, so what’s next?”
So, you have buy-in from your senior leadership and some ideas that you think could work for your Menopause-Friendly Workplace Strategy. But what’s next?
At this stage, it’s important to ask your employees what would be the most helpful to them. By asking existing staff groups, or even creating a menopause working group, you are much more likely to implement changes that are going to have a positive and long-lasting impact.
- Do they feel that there isn’t a great enough colleague menopause awareness as there is a lack of compassion between colleagues?
- Do they feel that line-manager awareness is lacking, and so feel uncomfortable asking for support?
- Do staff want certain workplace adjustments available to them to ease their symptoms?
- Do they want a menopause peer-to-peer support group?
Top Tip: don’t just ask your staff for their thoughts at the start, make sure you check in with them periodically to review what you have put in place. The working environment can quickly change, and you need to ensure that anything you put in place to support them can change with it.
“Where should I write all this great work down?”
The answer to this of course, is in your very own menopause at work policy. By writing a menopause at work policy, you can start to make staff feel more supported, as well as having a document that anyone can refer to if they need reminding on what is on offer.
The policy will help everyone in your organisation understand:
- What the menopause is and how symptoms can affect individuals differently
- How awareness is raised across the organisation, and what training is available to managers and employees
- What workplace adjustments are available to help mitigate symptoms as well as how these as well as other support can be requested.
Importantly, like any other policy, your menopause at work policy doesn’t stand alone. It works with your other health and wellbeing policies, so make sure to review these to check for any links to the menopause and ensure there are no contradictions that unintentionally create barriers to having a menopause-friendly workplace. These could include policies such as: flexible working, absence management, and or sickness reporting policies.
There’s no quick fix to becoming a menopause-friendly organisation, but you can see from above that the journey can be made a lot easier when you have a robust menopause-friendly workplace strategy in place.
If the above has piqued your interest and you would like support to build your menopause strategy, get in touch for a free 30-minute strategy consultation.
Please note the terms ‘woman’ and ‘women’ are used for conciseness, but the information applies to all those who have ever menstruated, which may include people who identify in another way than female.
Are you looking to make your organisation more menopause-friendly? Have a look at our workshops below for more support and tips:
- Understanding and Embracing the Menopause
- Introduction to Menopause Awareness at Work
- Menopause Awareness at Work Training
- 6 Steps to Post-Menopause Health
 In May-July 2023 (the latest data available), according to the Official for National Statistics. Office for National Statistics, ‘A05 SA: Employment, unemployment and economic inactivity by age group (seasonally adjusted)’, 12 September 2023, accessed 15 January 2024
 CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) – Menopause in the workplace: Employee experiences in 2023, 4 October 2023
 Government Equalities Office – Menopause transition: effects on women’s economic participation, 20 July 2017
 Government Equalities Office – Menopause and the workplace, 28 July 2022
About the Author
Elliot Foster is passionate about helping organisations make the most effective and sustainable business decisions to support the health and wellbeing of their staff, ensuring that there are no “tick-box” exercises, and making sure everything has impact. His career to date and MSc in Business Psychology allows him to look past individual interventions, and towards what makes a healthy working culture.