At the end of June 2018, Victoria Atkins, the minister for women and equalities, raised an important issue during a House of Commons debate; namely, the menopause. More specifically, she highlighted the important role employers could play in supporting women through this period of change in their lives.
We already know, through previous reports and available statistics, that the biggest age-group growth within employment is for women aged between 50 and 64. In fact, this age groups employment has risen higher than any other group since 2010. The reality is that as more women above the age of 50 remain in employment, the more women there will be experiencing the menopause within the work place.
It makes sense that employers have the necessary policies, procedures and resources in place to ensure they can provide support as and when it is needed to their female co-workers and staff. However, how practical is it? One woman’s experience of menopause may vary wildly from another woman’s; how then do you tailor needs effectively?
One option may be to have a range of options available to individuals, and allowing them (through discussion with line managers etc) to select those which are most appropriate, or beneficial. Some examples could include access to USB desk fan, which will provide comfort to the individual, without disrupting their nearby colleagues. It might be possible to agree to an alternative uniform, or more relaxed dress code (i.e. suit jackets do not need to be worn at all times, regardless of weather).
Some women find it difficult to sleep at night, especially if they are experiencing hot flushes, so a flexible approach to working hours could be beneficial. It is key to remember that anyone who has been with the same employer for 26 weeks or more, has the right to ask for flexible work arrangements.
Without doubt, the most important change that any employer can make, is ensuring their business has a genuine culture of approachability when it comes to all employee issues. There is no point in offering alternatives to staff members, if those same individuals don’t feel able to approach you or their line managers to have these discussions in the first place.
Menopause has long been seen as a taboo subject, and when so many individuals are likely to be affected by in one way or another, this has to change. Speaking to individuals who have experienced symptoms is a good way to find out what might be useful within the workplace to support them.
If you have staff, and aren’t sure what you are legally required to do, or what you could do to go above and beyond those requirements, speak to the team at People Matters today.
Remember, we are People Matters because your people matter.