It’s a seldom-discussed topic, but the menopause is a natural part of ageing and something that affects all women at some point in their lives. But while the average age in the UK for a woman to reach the menopause is 51, around one in 100 women will experience it before the age of 40 [source: NHS].
The menopause causes a range of symptoms, including anxiety, hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping and problems with memory/concentration. Therefore, it’s not surprising that the menopause can affect women’s lives quite significantly.
But what’s the impact of the menopause in the workplace?
Well, according to new research by Forth With Life, the biomarker tracking service, almost two-thirds of women find work difficult because of symptoms related to the menopause.
The survey respondents experienced different menopause symptoms and varying degrees of severity. The most common issue was hot flushes, cited by 73% of respondents. Second was drowsiness or exhaustion, which affected 63%, while a low mood (48%), difficulty concentrating (47%) and memory issues (43%) were also given as symptoms that impacted work.
For the study, Forth With Life polled 1,000 working women across the UK who were all over 45 years of age, to see how women are affected by symptoms of the menopause at work.
Workplace support severely lacking
Of the women surveyed, 77% had already gone through the menopause or were going through it at the time of the research. Over half (58%) said they were currently experiencing menopause symptoms and it was something that affected their work. Two out of five (41%) women admitted that menopause symptoms were causing them to make mistakes while at work. In addition, around 40% said the menopause had caused them to lose interest in their job.
Perhaps the most surprising and concerning revelation to come out of the survey was the fact that 90% of women quizzed said their employer had no support in place for helping women going through the menopause. Of the 10% that did provide support, 5% did so in the form of free advice, while 3% had specific policies in place regarding the menopause and its impact on employees. Another 3% offered training in psychological and physical wellbeing to line managers.
Almost 75% of women surveyed said their employers need to do more when it comes to supporting them and their colleagues as they go through the menopause.
Speaking about the findings of the research, Sarah Bolt, Forth With Life founder, said: “It’s quite shocking to see the lack of support women get at work and our study highlights how urgent it is for UK employers to improve their policies and offer help that is much needed.”
Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) are one of the ways employers can provide support to their employees. Contact us today to find out more about EAPs, as well as other ways you can help support your staff.
Claire Ginnelly is the Managing Director of Premier Choice Health and has been in the private medical insurance industry since 1991. All her experience has been gained working for large insurance companies managing the distribution of health insurance products through intermediaries. She has held senior positions within Standard Life Healthcare, as Head of Intermediary Sales, and Groupama Healthcare, as Head of Distribution.