For those experiencing symptoms it can be a difficult and stressful time. Everyone will experience the menopause differently and for some, symptoms can be quite severe and can affect people both physically and mentally. It's important for employers to be aware of all of the people who might go through the menopause and menopause symptoms and to support them all equally.
Why it's important
For employers, the menopause is a health and wellbeing concern for staff and needs to be handled sensitively.
It's important for employers to be aware that the menopause and its symptoms can affect staff at any time. Being aware of this can help staff continue to do their job confidently and effectively.
The menopause can also have an impact on those supporting someone going through the menopause, for example a relative, partner, colleague or carer.
Although the menopause will only be experienced by women and other people who have a menstrual cycle, men should also be included in conversations and training. This is because they might be supporting others going through it.
Supporting and creating a positive and open environment between an employer and someone affected by the menopause can help prevent the person from:
- losing confidence in their skills and abilities.
- feeling like they need to take time off work and hide the reasons for it.
- having increased mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression.
- leaving their job.
The easier you make it for someone to open up to you, the easier it will be to identify the support they need.
How to have a menopause conversation as a manager
- Ask simple, open, non-judgemental questions.
- Avoid judgemental or patronising responses.
- Speak calmly and maintain good eye contact.
- Avoid interruptions - switch off phones.
- Ensure colleagues can’t walk in and interrupt.
- Give the employee ample opportunity to explain the situation in their own words.
- Be prepared for some silences and be patient.
- Focus on the person, not the problem.
- Show empathy and understanding.
- Encourage the employee to talk.
- Listen actively and carefully.
It can still feel embarrassing talking about menopause at work. But every time we have a confident conversation at work about menopause, we’re taking a step towards normalising the topic.
Here are some top tips on how to talk to your manager:
- Prepare what you’re going to say - write down a few ideas if it helps and maybe even rehearse it with a close friend or partner.
- Book a suitable time - it's best to try and get a private room if you're in the office. Ensure that you haveadequate time booked so that you don’t feel rushed.
- Keep a diary of your symptoms - jot down how they’re affecting you both physically and mentally. Try and mention specific examples wherever possible.
- Be clear and don't feel embarrassed to open up - explain what is happening, the situation and how it is affecting your work.
- Offer a solution - make suggestions on what would help manage your symptoms at work.
- Follow up - give your boss time to digest what you’ve said and suggest a time to have a follow-up meeting to talk about next steps.