This guide explains how to support your people through the menopause, helping you to understand the symptoms and provide the right support when it’s needed.
What is the menopause?
The menopause is the time when estrogen levels fall and menstrual periods stop. This normally takes place between the ages of 45-55, but can happen sooner. The medical definition is no periods for at least one year.
Understand the symptoms
Everyone experiences the menopause differently and some can have more severe symptoms than others - the duration and severity varies from person to person. On average, symptoms last around four years from their last period, but 1 in 10 women can experience symptoms for up to 12 years.
Around 8 in 10 women will have symptoms before and after their periods stop. They can have a significant impact on daily life.
Common symptoms include:
- Hot flushes
- Night sweats
- Difficultly sleeping
- Reduced sex drive
- Problems with memory and concentration
- Vaginal and bladder issues
- Mood changes such as low mood and anxiety
- Joint stiffness, aches and pains
- Reduced muscle mass
- Recurrent urinary tract infections
Building awareness around the menopause is fundamental to normalising the topic, allowing people to talk openly and seek support when needed.
How to raise awareness
- Host internal webinars or talks discussing the topic, or register for our upcoming menopause webinars
- Provide access to educational material for all staff
- Link educational activity to awareness days throughout the year such as World Menopause Day on 18 October
- Remind staff it’s OK to talk about the menopause and share information around its prevalence
- Start including the menopause when talking about other health and wellbeing topics such as mental health
Line managers and open conversations
Line managers should be encouraged to talk about the menopause with all staff alongside other health and wellbeing issues. This can help normalise the topic and help people come forward for support.
Line managers should be trained to:
- Know how to have conversations about the menopause
- Know what support is available
- Understand the symptoms and how it can affect performance
- Understand policies and their role
- Understand that support needs will vary from person to person
Some staff might not want to discuss the issue with their line manager, so it’s important that line managers are equipped to offer a suitable alternative such as a member of the HR team, a wellbeing champion or mental health support service.
Our new line manager toolkit helps line managers understand the symptoms, have open conversations and support team members going through the menopause.
Flexibility and making changes
Menopause symptoms can last up to 12 years, so it’s important to be flexible and handle any absence from work sensitively.
Employers should consider:
- Making changes to help staff continue to work such as flexible working, working from home and allowing time off for appointments
- Taking into account performance issues or absence which might be caused by menopause symptoms
It’s important for employers to have procedures in place to help staff affected by the menopause.
Visit the ACAS website to understand how the menopause relates to the law.
You may want to consider having a policy specifically for the menopause. This can help people better understand the menopause and what support is available. It can also set out the training provided to managers, the main point of contact for questions and show the organisation is taking the issue seriously.
Organisations may already be familiar with mental health champions, but some are now broadening the role to include wider wellbeing issues. Wellbeing champions are nominated individuals in the workplace who can provide a neutral point of contact to discuss wellbeing issues, as well as signposting relevant support.
Employers could consider appointing wellbeing champions who would need to be trained to handle conversations, understand internal processes and signpost the support available.
Your organisation may have access to support services as part of your policy with Canada Life. Visit our support service page to discover the services available.
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