What should workplaces do to help people going through menopause?

The impact of the menopause is often dramatically underestimated by those not going through it.

The side-effects show up across the body, face and mind, including everything from hot flushes to hormonal skin changes, sleep disturbances to vaginal dryness.

While society seems to be well-versed in some of these symptoms, what’s missing is the nuance in how we think about this inevitable part of the ageing process that half of the population goes through.

The workplace is an area we can begin to rethink this, and it starts with acknowledging menopause as the difficult process that it is.

Though many workplaces still have archaic and outdated practices around women’s health, change is starting to come through.

At the start of the month, ASOS announced a new policy for staff going through the menopause – as of now, they can request flexible working to make any personal changes easier.

This came amid a series of other policies for those going through pregnancy loss and fertility treatment.

Other companies are following suit and setting new standards. On World Menopause Day, James Timpson of the Timpson Group Tweeted: ‘From today all my colleagues can claim on expenses their prescription costs when they are recommended HRT.

‘It’s so important that we support our colleagues going through the menopause.’

So, what else can companies do to support affected staff?

Louise Prashad, global talent director at beverage company Diageo says: ‘For too long women have suffered in silence and it is right that we all do more to support women going through menopause.

‘The time is now for businesses to change how we educate, support and improve the experience for all women experiencing this critical phase of their lives.’

She believes in listening to what the people going through the menopause want in order to better understand their needs.

Julie, an employee at the company, is going through the menopause now – she believes working in an environment that she can talk about it is vital.

‘No one prepares you for the impact menopause can have. I was always a happy, bubbly worker but I found myself becoming exhausted, emotional, and alienating myself from people at work,’ she tells Metro.co.uk.

‘When we don’t talk about menopause, we fail to realise the impact it has on our work and our lives.’

She says as for how companies can help, there isn’t a ‘one-size fits all’ approach – the experience varies person to person.

‘Everyone will have unique experiences and it is important that the support offered is tailored and flexible.

‘There is so much focus on attracting and retaining female talent, but companies are often neglecting their over-50 female workers by not addressing menopause.’

Thriving in your career isn’t just for people in their 20s and 30s, and menopausal women still want the opportunity to flourish and work to the best of their ability.

Louise tells us: ‘The journey to implement real change begins with listening carefully to colleagues and creating an environment where open, and often uncomfortable conversations can take place.

‘It is also about actively encouraging all colleagues to build their understanding of how menopause impacts women in the workplace and their personal lives.

‘This step needs to be backed up with tailored and practical support that can be easily accessed, recognising that every woman will have a unique experience of the menopause.’

Diageo recently released their Menopause Guidelines, which are designed to make support for these people more official and easier to obtain.

They now offer staff counselling, mindfulness sessions, flexible working patterns, and have made room for people to request further support.

The more companies that advertise their allowances for menopausal staff, the more normalised it will be – and therefore the more inclusive workspaces will become.

A culture that doesn’t put these conversations at the forefront or leaves room for promises to feel empty, won’t empower staff to seek the help they need.

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