How many managers can confidently answer “Yes?” Perhaps that’s because many managers don’t realize how much of their workforce they might be overlooking and/or alienating by not directly addressing the issue. Nearly 70% of menopause age women (ages 50-64) work. Healthline estimates that adds up to nearly 2.5 million workers (3.5 million in the United Kingdom). As impressive as that number is, it doesn’t consider the women who enter menopause before they turn 50 and those who may be experiencing symptoms.
Let’s not get bogged down by numbers; it’s easy to agree that more women are staying in the workforce for longer periods. We’re going to have to deal with our symptoms at work at some point, so instead of pretending like it won’t happen to you, let’s consider how women can plan ahead and be prepared for “the change.” If you’re a manager, consider what policies and practices you could implement to make the transition easier for your employees.
80% of women experience menopausal symptoms;
45% consider them difficult to manage in the workplace.
• Make educating yourself a priority in your 40s.
• Know the major symptoms and anticipate how they might affect you and your work environment.
• Discreetly identify a trustworthy co-worker or manager with whom you can discuss your symptoms and concerns.
• Adjust your wardrobe so you dress in layers, if possible. If you wear uniforms, research alternatives that may keep you more comfortable when/if hot flashes occur. Chances are, if it would help you, someone else could already benefit.
• Keep a change of clothes at work.
• Consider taking hormone therapy if it’s safe for you. Nearly 90% of women find it effective.
• Make lifestyle changes to enhance the quality of your sleep. Adjust your diet and exercise regimen, if needed.
• Identify times during the workday for stress-relieving breaks: take a walk, do deep breathing exercises or short meditation sessions.
• Treat menopause like any other long-term health issue. Recent studies show symptoms affect women between seven and fourteen years.
• Understand how menopause affects your workers: they need educated, compassionate colleagues who understand why they feel less confident and more anxious.
• Review health, risk management, and safety policies with menopausal symptoms in mind: temperature control and adequate ventilation are the issues most often identified by menopausal women.
• Access to cold drinking water and resting areas are other priorities.
• Communicate menopause-friendly policies to your workforce. Let your employees know it’s safe to discuss how a woman’s symptoms may affect her work and try to establish as flexible a working environment as possible
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