The modern workforce looks quite different from that of a few decades back, and rightly so. Women have entered the working world en masse, and in fact women over 50 now constitute the largest increase in employment rates since the 90s of any demographic. However, it seems that workplaces have not kept up with this shift in the composition of the workforce.

This is according to a new report from the Government Equalities Office, which found that the modern office environment is less than accommodating to menopausal women. Given the fact that the average age to go through the menopause is 51, many of these women experience these troubles at the peak of their career; not exactly the ideal time to be hindered by your own body.

Some have even stated that the symptoms have become so debilitating as to force them to reduce their working hours or leave their jobs entirely, so this is clearly not an issue we can leave unaddressed.

In order to help counteract the symptoms experienced by menopausal women in the office, which can include hot flushes, headaches, depression and fatigue among others, the report urges business leaders to implement design and procedures including:
  • Allowing all workers access to desktop fans
  • Improved ventilation
  • Increased exposure to natural light
  • Individual control over heating and air conditioning
  • Provision of cold drinking water
  • Provision of lightweight, non-synthetic uniforms
  • Creation of quiet rest areas within the workplace
  • Introduction of flexible working patterns
  • Improved special absence policies
Other recommendations were made, but many of those points not listed above seemed more in line with general good practice for all offices, rather than being menopause-specific recommendations.

Professor Jo Brewis of the University of Leicester, who served as lead author of the study, commented on the report’s findings, “Menopause transition has both negative and positive effects on working women, although there is more evidence for the former, including reduced productivity, higher rates of absenteeism and lower job satisfaction.

“The evidence indicates that many women find transition symptoms, especially hot flushes, difficult to manage and that being at work can exacerbate these symptoms.

“But women tend to feel that they need to cope alone, for example because they don’t want their manager or colleagues to think their performance is being affected or because they find the prospect of disclosure embarrassing. There is also some evidence of gendered ageism in organizations, a factor which requires more research.”

The report concluded with the following statement:

 “Increased rates of employment among women aged 50 and above mean more working women than ever before will experience the menopause.

“We can expect that up to 47 per cent of the UK workforce, i.e. all female workers, will experience menopause during their working lives.”

Prof Brewis added in closing, “Employers and managers can use the report to assist them in initiatives designed to create more menopause-friendly workplaces; and mid-life women will find the material we present reassuring as well as informative, in their working lives especially.”

Sam Bonson

Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. He is currently working as a content writer, journalist & editor as he continues to expand his horizons.
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