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Over the course of six blogs, we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? We can have a much better transition if we have a better understanding of menopause. We can learn to work with our bodies and find our personal path.

In this blog we will be looking at menopause in the workplace and why it is such an important issue. What needs to change about the attitude towards menopause and symptoms in the workplace?

How menopause affects women in the workplace

Did you know that 13 million women in the UK are going through menopause at any one time? 80% of them are at work? While we all know that menopause physically affects only women, when it comes to the workplace it can affect everybody. In any job where there are female employees present, it should be taken into consideration that the possibility of them having symptoms, while at work, is very high. There are a possible 49 symptoms of menopause, and any number of them can affect productivity and performance at work.

If you think about your current job, and whether you are going through the menopause, would you say you are comfortable in your workspace to cope with it? According to a survey by Forth with Life around 90% of women say that their workplace does not offer any help to menopausal women. 72% say that changes need to be made to accommodate menopausal women in the workplace.

How symptoms affect women in the workplace

If you have experienced menopausal symptoms, then it will be no secret that they can disrupt your daily work life. 41% of those same surveyed women said that their poor concentration and forgetfulness causes them to make mistakes and underperform. Menopause can also cause difficulty concentrating, depression and anxiety during work and employers can easily dismiss that too as underperforming. If your employer has experienced the menopause themselves they may be a little more uncerstanding. However, those who have not been taught how to deal with it can easily misunderstand how serious these symptoms are.

Managing your menopause is a great first step to coping. Finding natural solutions such as ones we have discussed in our Natural VS HRT blogs may really help you. Maybe you have a co-worker going through a similar experience? Could you ask anyone around you for support?

How does this affect you as an employer?

As of 2019 studies show that there is a huge rise in employment in women between the ages of 50 and 64. This is prime time for menopause to be an issue, and although some are choosing to stay in work, many feel as though they cannot cope with the symptoms and stress. This results in possibly leaving work or a rise in absence. One in four women have considered leaving work because of menopause, and according to BUPA around 990,000 already have. If a woman quits work due to unmanageable symptoms it will cost the company money. Replacing an employee can cost anywhere between 90% – 200% of what it originally cost to pay that employee. For exmaple, if they earned say £25,000, that could cost anywhere up to £50,000. This is before taking into consideration other elements such as:

  • Expertise, skills and experience lost
  • Recruiting, interviewing and training a new employee
  • The client relationships they built
  • Cultural impact
  • Loss of productivity

What can you do as an employer to help?

When it comes to the wellbeing of women in the workplace, topics such as menopause should be taken seriously. Simply talking about menopause, raising awareness to all employees and normalising it is extremely helpful. Especially when employees might feel embarrassed to address it or made to feel like it is a taboo subject. In addition, here are some things employees can introduce to better the help and understanding of menopause in the workplace:

  • Training for all line managers
  • Support groups
  • A safe place to talk in the office
  • A quiet rest area
  • Flexible work hours and shift arrangements
  • Facilities for physical symptoms such as showers, fans and clean bathrooms
  • Introduce a menopause policy

The government are currently investigating a manifesto for menopause at work. This was put forward by the CIPD in order to bring more attention to the lack of awareness and support surrounding menopause in the workplace. Bringing a menopause policy into organisations would ensure the wellbeing of employees, and help shed the negative talk surrounding it.

If you would like to stay ahead of the curve and think about your wellbeing strategy to incorporate a menopause policy now, contact Alison Charles, Wellbeing Consultant:

Tel: 07768 493157

Office: 020 3290 3157

Email: alison@alisoncharles.co.uk
Twitter: @alisonjcharles
LinkedIn: Alison Charles
Facebook: Alison Charles: Wellbeing in the Workplace

 

 

Over the course of six blogs we are looking at Menopause. Why? Because so many women go through it, without understanding the changes, and how they can manifest. I was diagnosed with burnout back in 2011. I realise, with hindsight, that menopause was a major contributing factor to my symptoms and mental state. Are you in a similar situation? You can have a much better transition if you have a better understanding of menopause. You can learn to work with your body and find our personal path. I wish I knew then what I know now, and I wish I had met Sarah when I first started experiencing symptoms. My experience would have been very different. Your experience, if you are not post menopause already, still can be.

How should we deal with stress during menopause and what are the effects it has on symptoms? We spoke to natural menopause expert Sarah Davison to understand what menopause is, how to prepare for it and how to manage symptoms.

Why is menopause so stressful?

Menopause can be a very stressful time in a womans life. Coping with all of these mental, emotional and physical changes is difficult enough. It is not just the transition through menopause that is stressful. Menopause comes at a time in your life when you have a lot of stress for other reasons.

At the age when menopause hits there are also a lot of other factors contributing to how we deal with it.  Women do it all. We have children, raise them and care for them. We have to deal with the stress and loss of them leaving home when the time comes. Some women have children later on in life, so can you imagine dealing with young children and perimenopause at the same time? Another responsibility that seems to naturally fall on women at this age besides looking after children, is the possibility of looking after sick or dying parents or relatives. As you could imagine, or even have experienced, all of these responsibilities weighing on you can be overwhelming. Especially if you’re trying to balance work too! stress

Did you know that certain other organs besides the reproduction ones also have a part to play in menopause? As your ovaries are slowing down the production of progesterone and oestrogen, your adrenal glands (that produce the stress hormones) take over and produce those hormones. Your body is designed for survival, and will always put that first above anything else. This means that while your adrenal glands are producing a lot of stress hormones they can’t produce a sufficient amount of sex hormones.

So there is an overlap between symptoms of adrenal fatigue, which results from chronic stress, and symptoms of perimenopause. Such as exhaustion, depression, weight gain, insomnia, low sex drive, digestion problems and back pain.

Managing stress

There are plenty of ways to manage stress, even in menopause, such as simple breathing exercises or meditation. It’s also a good idea to make sure your body is getting the right nutrition. This is different for everyone. Find a nutritional specialist if you need help finding out what is right for you. Perhaps monitor how much sugar you are consuming, and get a sufficient amount of protein.

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress. However, if you overdo exercise you can release too much cortisol. Hard exercise is not for those with adrenal fatigue – it will make it and your menopause symptoms worse! Everything in moderation. Go for moderate exercise. Make sure you do something you love too. It can be a nice walk, a bit of gardening,  or maybe dancing is more you groove? Anything that gets you moving on a regular basis.

Thank you to Sarah Davison for the contribution and information. Sarah can be reached at thrivehomeopathy.com.

Sarah offers a free perimenopause assessment that allow you to check how many of the 49 possible symptoms you have. Click here to take the assessment. You do not have to suffer alone!

Over the next few weeks we will be exploring the other elements of menopause.

  • Taboo and Ignorance
  • Natural VS HRT
  • Menopause in the Workplace
  • The Hidden Gift of Menopause

 

 

Would five hour work days be beneficial?

I came across a topic on LinkedIn in which people are discussing whether shorter shifts of five hour days would ensure a better state of wellbeing for employees and the companies they work for. The scheme is being tested in Scandinavian countries, the US and UK.

There are a lot of elements and things to unpack when it comes to an ideallistic image of working shorter hours, and after doing our own research we’ve realised there are both pros and cons. To anyone who works long and tiresome shifts, cutting working hours to five a day may sound like a dream come true, especially if you’re struggling to manage home life, work life and a social life. While many people love what they do and are happy to put in the extra hours do they really think about the impact on thier wellbeing and what about the company perspective? So could we benefit from working shorter hours and who would it benefit the most?

Balance, wellbeing and productivity

Work life balance

After reading the initial discussion and WIRED’s main article and what others had to say on LinkedIn, it seems that five hour days would mostly be benficial for those who struggling to maintain balance in all aspects of their life. They are in favour of , what they consider a better balance. Long hours sat at a desk every day can lead many people to being both mentally and physically exhausted. Especially with more work being virtual and on screen.

Productivity five hours

There has also been concerns about productivity, how much could really be done in five hours or maybe six? A 2019 survey showed that the avereage amount of productive work hours amount to two hours and twenty three minutes. The people they studied admitted to sometimes getting highly distracted – something that other research has shown could be counterblanaced by shorter hours. Companies that have tried this scheme found that some employees were able to complete tasks sufficiently without distractions. It also meant they could leave the office by 2pm after working through from 8am. Could it be that they are more productive because they are more focussed too? Do we have a tendancy to fill out the time we have with a task?

Who would benefit from five hour shifts?

While most of the research shows that there is a largly positive reaction to working shorter hours, it does mean that businesses would have to employ more staff to work those other shifts. The average business employee probably works 40 hours a week. If the company employes 20 people working 40 hours that is an 800 hour week of work. To replicate the hours it would mean employing 32 people 5 hours a day to reach an 800 hour week. However, if those that are doing the work are more productive in those hours maybe it would only mean employing an extra 7 people to get the same output? Would it mean slow task completion? Would it be a good idea to spread work out among more people? This would also mean possibly seeing a fall in umployment numbers. More jobs would open up to fill those extra shift gaps.

Then comes the question of salary. Working a shorter day would mean you are not earning as much as you would in a regular 40 hour week. In a household with two working people this might be doable. More freedom and better blance might be worth the salary sacrifice. For me it certainly was when I moved to a 4 day work week back in 2012, when I was working for corporate. For others it just will not be a manageable income so how do employers balance the needs of all thier employees.

Which industries would it suit?

This is certianly the million dollar question. According to CNBC several CEO’s sworse by it after introducing it in 2019. However, they lost quite a few employees as a result and some had to make some adjustments, like just offering it through the summer. For those employees who remained they did find their emotional wellbeing was higher, with more time to do what they enjoyed and more time with family and friends. They also noted that while the team had shrunk revenues had increased.

The important thing to remember is that the approach will not suit all employees and it will not suit all companies. The important thing is to start a dialog and see what it the best option for both. These are very challenging times and anything that helps the company the individual and the economy has got to be worth investigating.