Recently BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour dedicated a week to talking about Menopause – a bit of a taboo subject for many but something that will affect all woman in one way or another. A yes THAT Change!
On the day I started writing this post they were talking about Menopause in the Workplace – a mix of horror stories of women being made redundant, performance managed and even told to improve their attitude or get sacked along with organisations talking about tools and ways to improve support in the workplace.
I have to admit it’s not an area I knew much about, and in all honesty not something I had thought about in the past or even realised was an issue. That was until I became peri-menopausal. I didn’t know that’s what it was until a good friend of mine suggested it when I asked her about a health issue I was having. I won’t go into details (seriously no one wants to talk about periods – no one, we do because they are a reality and should not be treated with shame or embarrassment but right here right now on a HR/Work blog lets go gently) but it is something that has both surprised me and led me to want to find out more.
I am 45 years old, and have probably been perimenopausal for about 2 years. Now I know I need to go and see my GP about this as right now I am self diagnosed, but we Arrowsmith’s don’t like to bother the Dr unless we really have to – it would also mean that I would have to register with one, I mean I’ve only lived her 7 months and I’m not due a smear test for another few years so do I really need to?* Anyway I’ve had a dig around the various online resources and ticked off symptoms and stages, and whoop there it is: the inevitable for Women has started for me.
Now so far I am feeling ok, the night sweats and lack of sleep are a pain but on the whole I don’t feel too bad. Hearing some of the symptoms that women can suffer I really understand how we, as employers, need to know more about the Menopause and it’s potential impact to a major portion of our working population. There are campaigns for reasonable adjustments to be made for the period that women go through the Menopause (4- 12 years so they say….yay) but I wonder if a greater understanding, a raising of awareness and some simple reasonable steps could be a major step forward.
They mentioned on the programme that some employers are leading the way in making a difference – Severn Trent and West Midlands Police are both highlighted as good examples; and there are resources out there for employers to assist them in their understanding of the potential symptoms and impact, and some suggestions for what you can do in the workplace to offer support. This from the Faculty of Occupational Medicine Guidance on Menopause in the Workplace is highly recommended and this from the Royal College of Nursing provides guidance to RCN Reps when working with colleagues.
I think most importantly is the fact that half the population will go through the menopause at some point, and many of these women will be in work. So to support them, help ourselves to continue to be good employers for all our employees we can’t ignore the Menopause any more.
If you or your organisation is interested in developing internal resources for supporting colleagues when they go through the menopause and educating managers and colleagues please get in touch as my brilliant colleagues at The Work Consultancy have been working to develop some resources for clients and would be happy to talk about how we could assist you.
*yes, yes I do, I know I do and I will – in fact I stopped writing this Blog post and found a few locally via the NHS website. Now just to download and complete the patient registration form, forget about it, print it again, complete it again, let it gather dust and eventually make an appointment to register. Cancel appointment due to client meeting and rearrange and then finally register. Ok, alright I’ll do it.