Fairfield HR

The Miserable Menopause – how HR can support

The menopause. I’m 34 at the time of writing this and in my line of work, it’s a hot topic and one that is rightly being talked about more. Menopause sounds truly horrific. Symptoms include:

  • changes to your mood, like low mood, anxiety, mood swings and low self-esteem
  • problems with memory or concentration (brain fog)
  • hot flushes, when you have sudden feelings of hot or cold in your face, neck and chest which can make you dizzy
  • difficulty sleeping, which may be a result of night sweats and make you feel tired and irritable during the day
  • palpitations, when your heartbeats suddenly become more noticeable
  • headaches and migraines that are worse than usual
  • muscle aches and joint pains
  • changed body shape and weight gain
  • skin changes including dry and itchy skin
  • reduced sex drive
  • vaginal dryness and pain, itching or discomfort during sex
  • recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)

And it can last for years.  In a survey of 1,000 adults in the UK, the British Menopause Society found that 45% of women felt that menopausal symptoms had a negative impact on their work and 47% who needed to take a day off work due to menopause symptoms say they wouldn’t tell their employer the real reason

I work with clients now who are struggling and not only is it horrible for them, I can see their colleagues sometimes struggling around them and then, I occasionally see the lack of support and understanding.

I feel for the blokes too. To see your loved one go through such a torrid time, and probably feel pretty helpless. The male menopause is also a thing now –  some men develop depression, loss of sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and other physical and emotional symptoms when they reach their late 40s to early 50s.

I’m sure I have 10+ years before I reach it, but I feel a little anxious about it already. It’s a wonderful, and necessary, thing that we’ve shone a light on it. But I wonder if my generation might feel symptoms earlier, by way of anxiety?

Anyway… Some useful tips that I’ve collected from a whole array of fabulous people who are experts in menopause awareness and support:

  • offer flexible working
  • offer different uniform if appropriate
  • offer the use of a fan
  • allow regular breaks
  • provide occupational health support
  • offer counselling through an Employee Assistance Programme

As with all issues of mental (and physical health), creating a culture where employees feel able to speak up about how they are feeling is the most valuable thing you can do as an employer.

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