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  • Writer's picturePJ Stevens

Menopause: Business Cost or Opportunity

We all know women who are at the menopause age, or middle age as a friend of mine calls it. She struggled for many months to understand and manage what was going on for her, before almost quitting her job as global director with 25+years business experience. As she said, ‘my mum told me about periods, but nothing about the menopause… I thought I was going bat-shit crazy’.

But what does that mean for business?

Some 23% of women at work are in part going through the menopause. 99% of those have taken sick days. 21% have been passed over for promotion. 12% have resigned. Some have ended up in tribunals. Many leave quietly.

If menopausal women walk out of the business, with all their knowledge, experience, skills and capabilities, what does that mean to the business?

Not knowing all about the menopause is OK. Indeed some women I have spoken to say they didn’t understand it or realise what was happening, and it seems some health care workers are not that well informed either. However, as business leader, not finding out about menopause, not engaging your staff and wider professionals in the topic, not preparing to look after people or de-risking the business against potential tribunal is not Ok.

And ‘being a bloke’ is NO Excuse for sticking your head in the sand. My strong suggestion, be prepared, not just from a Governance or ESG perspective, but from a well being human perspective.

Menopause is not all gloom and doom, as I’ve been told by some women who have happily shared stories. And that’s the same for businesses too who have embraced this topic, strengthened their culture, policies and support (including Private Health Care), and seen an increase in trust and engagement from staff who see the openness from management as a very positive statement of intent.

However, not paying attention to menopause in the workplace can have many seen and unseen costs for business leaders. Here are some potential consequences to consider:

Menopause symptoms such as hot flashes, sleep disturbances and mood swings can affect an employee's overall well-being and productivity. Without appropriate support, employees may struggle to perform at their best, leading to decreased productivity and missed opportunities.

Menopausal symptoms can sometimes be severe, leading to increased absenteeism if employees feel unable to cope with their symptoms at work. This can result in a higher turnover rate and increased costs associated with recruiting and training new staff which can be costly and risky.

If employees feel unsupported during menopause it can contribute to a negative workplace culture.

A lack of understanding and accommodating needs may lead to decreased morale among

employees, affecting their engagement and satisfaction, which can impact on customers.

Failure to address menopause in the workplace may contribute to talent retention issues. Employees experiencing significant menopausal symptoms may choose to leave an organisation that does not provide the necessary support, leading to a loss of valuable skills and experience.

In some regions, menopause related issues may be covered under discrimination or equal

opportunity laws. Failing to address these issues adequately could expose the company to legal and regulatory risks, including potential lawsuits. Ignoring menopause can contribute to a lack of inclusivity in the workplace. Organisations that do not address the specific needs of menopausal employees may struggle to create a diverse and inclusive environment.

If menopausal symptoms are not addressed, employees may experience health issues that can result in increased healthcare costs for both the individual and the company.

Losing experienced employees due to menopause-related issues may create knowledge and skill gaps within the organisation. This loss of institutional knowledge can be challenging to replace, affecting overall business continuity.

To mitigate these costs, business leaders can consider implementing supportive policies, educating employees and managers about menopause, and creating a workplace culture that promotes inclusivity and well-being for all employees. Addressing menopause in the workplace is not only a matter of employee well-being but also contributes to the overall success and sustainability of the organisation.

There are many organisations offering help and advice. Some offer workshops, education and training for colleagues, others offer a more personal care package for individuals. There are Menopause Coaches for women and Executive Coaches to support Boards and Senior Leaders. There is no excuse for negligence.

Listen, get talking.

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