According to a UK report on menopause in the workplace, compared to pregnancy and maternity, menopause isn’t well understood or catered for, and women feel their colleagues are unsympathetic.
If you’re going through menopause, here’s what you should share with your boss…
How menopause in the workplace affects performance
Menopause is defined as your last period and starts at an average age of 52. This is also the time when many women re-establish their careers after kids become more independent.
However, from the early to mid-40s, fluctuating hormones already start to cause subtle physical changes, which just become more pronounced as menopause approaches.
Menopause symptoms, especially hot flushes, can literally make it impossible for women to concentrate for long periods at work. If you’re suffering from hot flushes, you’ll probably be nodding your head. And you’re not alone.
Professor Jo Brewis from the University of Leicester reviewed 104 global studies on menopause in the workplace and compiled the report for the UK government.
Based on the findings, he said, “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.
“This is because many women find the symptoms, especially hot flushes, difficult to manage and (they find) that being at work can exacerbate these symptoms.”
Is this happening to you?
Cape-Town based pharmacist and life coach, Giulia Criscuolo highlights some other common menopause symptoms that could have a negative impact on your performance at work:
- Mood swings
- Racing heart
- Joint and muscle aches and pains
- Bladder control problems
“Women tend to feel that they need to cope alone because they don’t want their manager or colleagues to think their performance is being affected by any of these symptoms or because they don’t want to open up about it,” says Giulia.
What SA companies need to know…
Giulia says that the UK report’s key findings and recommendations should also be taken seriously and applied in SA. Some of these include:
- Implementing low cost solutions to relieve symptoms such as installing USB fans
- Re-organising seating so that women experiencing hot flushes can sit close to an open window or near an aircon.
- Introducing flexible working hours so that women can cope better with menopause-related sleep loss.
- Having regular meetings to discuss how employees are feeling. This will help to foster an open and supportive workplace environment for those suffering from debilitating symptoms.
For more support, contact the South African Menopause Society on 082 553 8201 or visit their website, by clicking here