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How Workplaces Can Be Menopause-Friendly
Oct. 07, 2022
There's a coming tidal wave of women with menopause symptoms in the workforce. How can companies prepare?
Over a billion–yes, that’s billion with a B–women will be in menopause by the year 2025. And about two in three women report menopause symptoms severe enough to create significant impact to their professional lives.
But despite this coming tidal wave of women experiencing symptoms potentially bothersome enough to disrupt productivity loss, little has been done in the United States to offer menopause support at work. We think that’s about to change.
Why Menopause-Friendly Workplaces Are Rising
GenX women, now in their 40s to late 50s, are the first generation to experience nearly equitable labor force participation. This means GenX women are also the first to experience bothersome menopause symptoms at work en masse.
Millennial women (the oldest of whom are now 40) have demanded increased workplace benefits for fertility, new parent benefits, IVF treatment and paid parental leave—and as these women head into perimenopause, you can bet they’ll demand similar accommodations for their menopause transition, which for some women can last up to 14 years.
So what can forward-thinking workplaces do? Adopting a menopause workplace policy to help not only avoid an estimated $150 billion in productivity loss, but also demonstrate their commitment to their female employees with irreplaceable years of experience, wisdom and talent.
3 Components of a Menopause-Friendly Workplace
Calling a workplace menopause-friendly just because its remote work isn’t really enough. In fact, a menopause-friendly workplace doesn’t even need to mean remote work. Here, we outline the three key things to include in a menopause workplace policy to ensure women in this life stage get the support they need to stay in the workforce.
1. Formal education, management training programs, and discussion about menopause to destigmatize and normalize it.
Menopause is rarely talked about even among women–it’s very unlikely that managers, particularly male managers, have a firm grasp on what this life stage is and how women can be affected by symptoms. The first step to a menopause-friendly workplace is educating managers through formal training so they understand the potential symptoms and are well prepared to provide positive support and offer appropriate workplace adjustments, if needed. Company-wide education on menopause also helps staff better understand what their perimenopausal female leaders could be experiencing.
2. Flexible time off and leave policies to accommodate symptom management.
Flexible scheduling that allows women to work around their most bothersome symptoms (like if they know they get brain fog in the late afternoons) keeps women from feeling embarrassed about their symptoms and instead lets them take back some control. At Phenology, we also offer unlimited PTO to give all employees the time and space they need to take care of themselves.
3. Benefits to assist with employee wellbeing across the symptom spectrum.
Employee wellbeing benefits don’t need to be specific to menopause, but can definitely help women in that life stage. For example, a stipend to purchase home office items can be used to create a comfortable work environment with things like fans or cooling packs. Offering additional break times and encouraging employee wellness is also important to making the workplace menopause-friendly.
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