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How to support employees through the menopause

How does your organisation support employees who are experiencing the menopause?

Do you have a menopause policy in place?

Hot on the heels of a powerful documentary here in the UK, hosted by Davina McCall, I thought I’d collate resources for Comms pros.

This article includes links to advice and guidance and menopause policy examples.

What are companies doing?

From what I’ve read, I’ve discovered various organisations have been equipping their employees and line managers to have conversations about the menopause.

For example, Leicestershire County Council, People’s Postcode Lottery, The Ministry of Defence and Marine Management Organisation have run internal training sessions.

Retailer Next has menopause advocates and Sainsbury’s provided information to their line managers.

HSBC has been educating employees about menopause and has hosted internal webinars. There’s a video on YouTube talking about their actives.

Retailer Tesco has been holding menopause awareness events. Find out more.

Tesco menopause session

Channel 4’s menopause policy

Does your company have a menopause policy in place?

Channel 4, who aired the Davina McCall documentary, say they launched the UK media industry’s first dedicated menopause policy on World Menopause Day 2019, aiming to support employees experiencing menopausal symptoms and to provide guidance for line managers.

They define menopause and perimenopause as:

Menopause: the point at which a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, and she stops having periods. Menopausal symptoms are typically experienced for several years so it’s best described as a ‘transition’ rather than a one-off event.

Perimenopause: this is the phase leading up to the menopause when a woman’s hormone balance starts to change, and when she may begin to experience menopausal symptoms. For some women this can start as early as their twenties or as late as their late forties.

Menopause Policy Channel 4

They say: “The policy has already made an impact, with a recent 4Women survey suggesting that 78% of Channel 4 staff feel better about Channel 4 as a place to work since the policy launched, whilst 10% of female employees have used or plan to use the policy to support their menopausal symptoms (13% of Channel 4 staff are women over the age of 45).”

“We’re really proud to have had so many conversations around menopause this year at Channel 4 and confront a subject that remains ridiculously taboo in the workplace. Our dedicated policy has provided Channel 4’s employees – both our women facing the menopause and all our managers – with vital tools and support.

“This is a time when even more than ever we need to respect the concerns and constraints of our staff so I encourage all companies to look at this. By giving away our policy to everyone we hope to make it even easier for other companies to benefit from the retention of expert women in their industries.” – Alex Mahon, Chief Executive.

What advice is available for companies?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) has a wealth of information on its website, that is worth checking out. Work alongside your HR colleague to spot opportunities to define and refine the support you have in place for employees experiencing the perimenopause or menopause.

CIPD states: “For every 10 women experiencing menopausal symptoms, six report that it has a negative impact on their work. With the right support, there’s no need for women to press pause on their career during this natural transition. But many women will continue to suffer in silence unless we break the taboo and start talking openly about the menopause at work.”

It includes:

A podcast hosted by CIPD, listen below or listen online:

Resources recommended by CIPD:

Menopause infographicMenopause infographic

Menopause poster by CIPD

What do employers need to do?

According to this report by UNISON:

“The Government Equalities Office 2017 research report ‘The effects of menopause transition on women’s economic participation in the UK’ (www.gov.uk/government/ publications/menopause-transition-effects-on- womens-economic-participation) found that appropriate employer interventions included “changing organisational cultures; compulsory equality and diversity training; providing specialist advice; tailored absence policies; flexible working patterns for mid-life women; and fairly low cost environmental changes.”

It also states: “Employers should ensure that all line managers and HR staff have been trained to be aware of how the menopause can affect work, the implications for both equality and health and safety, and what adjustments may be necessary to support women who are experiencing the menopause. All staff would benefit from training to raise awareness and understanding, and to share experiences.”

You can read the whole report online.

See the NHS Employers website to discover more information about communicating menopause policies and information with employees.

Guidance for people managers

There is also a lot of information online aimed at people managers:
Top tips for menopause conversations

The menopause at work: a guide for people managers – a short guide outlining everything a manager needs to know about the menopause.

Bupa menopause guide

Bupa: Supporting employees through the menopause.

Menopause policy information

I’ve found some examples online of various menopause policies. See the links below for more information. Do you have one to add to this list?

Further reading: Journal on creating menopause policies: https://www.atworkpartnership.co.uk/journal/issue/15_3/contents/developing-workplace-menopause-policies

How to write your menopause policy – by Henpicked

Examples of menopause policies

How internal communicators can support these conversations at work

Storytelling is always a brilliant mechanism to bring subjects to life for employees.

If you are looking to break the taboo of talking about menopause, why not see if you can do something similar to Network Rail, who featured  employees sharing their stories back in 2018?

Menopause Network Rail

Network Rail menopause

Writing in the Institute of Internal Communication’s (IoIC) Voice Magazine, back in 2019, Juliet Saimbi from Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace was asked how Comms teams can support talking about the menopause.

She said: “Start with little and often to get the ball rolling – posters on the backs of toilet doors with stats and myth busters, ‘Did you know?’s in a leaflet or Twitter campaign. Get people to share their stories. Normalise it as a subject and make employees aware that support is available.”

IoIC voice magazine

I hope you’ve found this article helpful.

I’m going to share a link to my recent Candid Comms podcast episode on How to work well with HR, because this needs to be a joint discussion.

You can find my podcast via your favourite podcast player or listen online.

Candid Comms

Thank you for stopping by.

If you have a story you’d like to share about how you’re supporting employees through the menopause, please do get in touch.

Rachel.

Post author: Rachel Miller.

First published on the All Things IC blog 14 May 2021.

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