The workforce risks losing millions of employees as workplace health care is continually overlooked. More research is showing the consequences of the current lack of workplace support for those with menstrual and menopausal health symptoms.
The new report from healthcare provider Simplyhealth surveyed UK working women, bringing to light the day to day impacts of experiencing menopausal or menstrual symptoms in the workplace. Calling for stronger workplace culture concerning healthcare, the report emphasises the workforce risks losing millions of employees if menstrual and menopausal support is continually overlooked.
- 23% of working women have considered quitting due to the impact of menopause or menstrual symptoms at work, and over one in ten (14%) are actively planning to quit.
- 87% of working women want their employer to be more supportive when it comes to women’s health.
- Only one in eight (12%) women reported having training in place for managers to support employees with women’s health issues, with almost two-fifths (39%) saying they are comfortable talking to their manager about their health issues.
The data speaks for itself. With almost a quarter of working women considering quitting due to menopausal symptoms, the support available is evidently not enough.
In the UK there are seven million employees aged 40-60 who will experience menopause and the health issues that can come with it. Providing effective policies and support to ease this experience will help retain talent valuable to the labour market.
(Lack of) change in the Workplace
Remaining a workplace challenge, 87% of respondents want their employer to be more supportive when it comes to menopause.
Alarmingly, the most common form of support remains free period products with 23% receiving this option. Low levels of respondents reported receiving additional on-site advice, such as leaflets, for menstrual health concerns (12%), educational talks (14%), and external health support e.g. health insurance or health plans (11%).
Recent research from inclusive design firm Motionspot also showcased a lack of amenities for menstruation and menopausal symptoms. Nearly half (48%) of respondents do not have access to the feature they identify as most useful to manage their pain and discomfort at work. The most common unavailable feature in respondents’ workplaces is a place to lie down (78%); second is a hot bath and shower (both 66%); third is a dark or dimly lit space (60%).
Menstrual and menopausal symptoms can impact workplace behaviours and productivity, with 55% reporting their mood being affected at work, 52% seeing an impact on their ability to concentrate, 46% feeling physically uncomfortable in office spaces and 40% saying these symptoms affect their productivity.
The SimplyHealth research calls for more effective strategies to support those experiencing menopausal symptoms. By adopting policies that meet workforce needs, employers will see a positive change in both workforce retention and productivity. Structural and policy change to meet healthcare needs is the best way to embed a supportive environment into workplace culture.
Moving forward with support in the workplace
Openly taking the time to understand your employee’s healthcare needs and adjusting workplace norms accordingly truly shows support. According to the research, 31% look for flexible home working to manage symptoms, 25% want time off for healthcare appointments and a fifth want menstrual (20%) and menopausal (18%) leave.
Support in the workplace goes beyond healthcare leaflets and educational talks. Recent research from CIPD recommends developing an open culture surrounding topics of periods and menopause to fully understand the healthcare needs of the team, while utilising a framework of accessible policies, flexible working and office design to boost the comfort and productivity of all employees.
Normalising open conversation and education can help remove the taboo surrounding both periods and menopause. Easy office alterations such as temperature controls, better equipped bathrooms, and air quality monitors can all alleviate painful day-to-day symptoms. Similarly, offering a quiet space for short breaks can aid office hours for those experiencing menstruation or menopause, as well as other team members who may feel hypersensitive to their environment.
Rachel Grocott, CEO of menstrual equity charity Bloody Good Period commented: “This data on the impact of menstrual and menopausal symptoms in the workplace is shocking but sadly not surprising.
“We hear all the time of how pain and other symptoms, a culture of presenteeism and a lack of education for everyone, of all genders, on both periods and menopause has a real impact on people at work.
“Employers should be taking a comprehensive approach to policies, culture and communication in the workplace, to ensure that the needs of women and people who menstruate and experience menopause are properly supported. This includes building everyone’s knowledge, having open conversations and making adjustments – for example, providing period products, factoring in breaks and rest time, and considering uniform requirements.”
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