Challenges of the menopause: How employers can support their female employees

More and more companies are recognizing the importance of supporting their female employees during the menopause. For women, this phase of life is associated with hormonal changes and can be accompanied by a variety of symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disorders or concentration problems. These can have an impact on their health and productivity. This article presents some starting points on how employers can specifically support their female employees during the menopause. After all, an appreciative and health-promoting working environment not only contributes to the well-being of female employees, but also to their long-term performance and the preservation of their working capacity.

Effects of the menopause on the world of work

The menopause is a natural stage in women’s lives that brings with it hormonal changes. While hot flushes, concentration problems and sleep disorders are among the most common symptoms, the range of possible complaints extends far beyond this. From mood swings to skin problems – every woman experiences the menopause differently. Around 2/3 of all women experience symptoms, half of which are very severe.  

These symptoms not only have an impact on personal well-being, but also on the working environment. Sleep disorders lead to reduced performance, while concentration problems can impair efficiency at work. But it’s not just physical symptoms that play a role: the self-confidence of affected women can also suffer. Hot flushes and concentration problems often cause insecurity and frustration, especially in a professional environment. For detailed information on the symptoms and effects of the menopause, it’s worth taking a look at our blog article “How the menopause affects you at work”. 

For employers, this means being sensitive to the needs of women going through the menopause, especially because the approximately 9 million women in Germany who are going through the menopause are among the fastest growing group of employees. After all, when women withdraw due to their symptoms and are less active in the workplace, this has consequences – not only for the women concerned, but also for the company itself. Research clearly shows that untreated menopausal symptoms can lead to reduced hours, resignation, job changes, turning down a promotion or early retirement. Companies should therefore take active measures to close the gender health gap and provide their female employees with the best possible support. 

What employers can do

Employers can play a crucial role in supporting their employees during the menopause and creating a comfortable working environment. But what exactly can companies do to support their female employees during the menopause? Here are a few possible measures. 

1. Education and removal of taboos

A first step in providing support is to educate employees and managers. This applies to all employees and managers – not just menopausal women! It is important to improve knowledge about the menopause and to remove taboos and stigma from the subject. By treating the menopause as a normal stage of life and discussing it openly, prejudices can be broken down and a supportive environment created. 

In addition, employers should offer targeted education and support for affected women. This can be done by providing information and advice. By raising awareness of the issue and providing direct support, for example in the form of 1:1 counseling, women can better manage their symptoms and feel more comfortable in their working environment.

2. Community and support

Another effective tool is the establishment of menopause circles. These internal networks enable affected women to interact with each other and strengthen the feeling of belonging and being understood within the company. In the UK, these circles are already established in many companies, with significant benefits. Mutual support and open exchange can help to avoid dismissals due to menopausal issues. It is a way of removing the taboo surrounding menopause and creating a supportive environment for all employees. 

3. Individual support measures

Employers can develop specific support measures that are tailored to the individual needs of their female employees. Here are some examples: 

Air-permeable clothing and fans: providing air-permeable clothing (e.g. lightweight fabrics) and fans in the workplace can help to alleviate hot flushes. A pleasant indoor climate is important to promote the well-being of employees. 

Flexible home office options: Employers can offer flexible home office options so that affected women can complete their work in a familiar environment. The ability to turn off the camera allows for additional privacy, e.g. if this is desired due to hot flashes experienced. 

Quiet rooms: Setting up quiet rooms offers employees a place to retreat to rest or relax if necessary. This is particularly important when fatigue or sleep disorders occur. 

Flexible working hours: Individual working time models, e.g. part-time or flexible working hours, can reduce pressure and allow employees to better balance their work with their individual needs. 

These measures help to improve working conditions for affected women and increase their quality of life during the menopause. 

4. Health promotion and prevention

Regular health checks and preventive measures initiated by the employer help to identify potential problems at an early stage. Specific examinations aimed at the menopause can help to correctly identify the causes of menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes, sleep disorders or mood swings. Health-promoting measures such as yoga, meditation and nutritional advice help women to cope with stress and alleviate symptoms. 

5. Menopause-Policy: promoting wellbeing in the workplace

Idealerweise sollten diese Unterstützungsmöglichkeiten in einer spezifischen Menopause-Policy festgehalten werden. Eine solche Richtlinie oder Betriebsvereinbarung zu den Wechseljahren kann klare Vorgaben und Unterstützungsmöglichkeiten definieren, wodurch eine konsistente und transparente Handhabung des Themas im Unternehmen gewährleistet wird. So können Arbeitgeber nicht nur das Wohlbefinden ihrer Mitarbeiterinnen fördern, sondern auch ein inklusives und unterstützendes Arbeitsumfeld schaffen. 

What Onuava can do

With our wide range of services, Onuava can support companies with all of the above measures. Through our advice and support, we offer companies the opportunity to provide women with the best possible support during the menopause. Our approach is based on medically sound information and individual advice from experts. We ensure that every woman has access to the latest evidence and personalized recommendations to effectively manage the symptoms of menopause. 

We also offer targeted training and educational programs for employees and managers. These programs sensitize the entire team to the challenges faced by women during the menopause and provide valuable knowledge on how to act in a supportive manner. 

Another important part of our offering is support in the development of company-specific measures. Together with our clients, we develop a comprehensive menopause policy that serves as a guideline and ensures that all aspects of menopause are taken into account in the workplace. Through this customized menopause policy, we create a healthy working environment in which all female employees feel comfortable and valued. 

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