There are more women over 50 employed in the workplace than ever before but are workplace policies and practices keeping up with the needs of women who experiencing workplace menopause symptoms? And if not, what are the hidden costs to business?
Research has shown that 75-80% of women experience menopause symptoms and for 25% of women those symptoms are classed as severe. The common symptoms that can affect performance at work include poor sleep, hot flushes, brain fog, stress, anxiety and loss of confidence.
Women who do not receive support in the workplace tend to take more sick leave, experience poor morale and under-perform. They develop coping strategies so that their managers and colleagues are unaware of their issues.
The Hidden Cost of Menopause
The hidden cost of menopause is women leaving work because they don’t feel able to cope with their symptoms. Recent research found that 1 in 4 women considered quitting their jobs for this reason.
Add to those statistics the fact that menopause does not discriminate by status and you can start to speculate on how many senior women leaders leave important, well-paid roles because of the symptoms they are experiencing.
There are no formal research statistics for this but from conversations I have had clients I know that it happens regularly. One woman working at Director level in a large, male-dominated organisation told me about how her hot flushes disrupted her sleep and made her feel embarrassed during meetings. She started to feel stressed and to lose her confidence and felt that her male manager would not take her experience seriously. After 30 years of building her career she took early retirement. Her employers and colleagues were never aware why she chose to leave.
Organisations may not be aware of why they are losing their senior women leaders because the culture and policies do not enable employees to talk openly about what they are experiencing and advocate for the support they need.
Raising Awareness of Menopause
The cost of losing senior women is not just the replacement recruitment costs, it is also the loss of talent, knowledge and experience. These losses and the associated costs can be avoided by taking action such as:
- Putting a Workplace Menopause Policy in place
- Training HR and Line Managers
- Organising menopause in the workplace events for employers
- Consulting women colleagues about their workplace needs
- Making reasonable adjustments to the workplace environment
- Creating a culture where women can have open conversations with managers
If you need help in taking action and creating a positive approach to workplace menopause contact me today.