What is the Role of Occupational Health for a Menopausal Workforce?

Menopause is the natural phase that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive functions, and the beginning of a new stage of her life. However, it can bring about a range of physical and emotional symptoms that may significantly impact a woman’s ability to perform her job effectively.

With the number of menopausal working women escalating, it is essential for employers to understand the impact of menopause in the workforce and prioritise the health and well-being of their menopausal employees. This is where occupational health plays a crucial role. At Bodyline, we vehemently believe that there is an organisational duty to account for the impact of menopause on the workforce, and in this piece, we will lay out all the reasons why.

How Menopause Impacts the Workforce

The menopause will impact the workforce in many ways, influencing the individual woman, the employer, colleagues, and the economy as a whole. With 11% of the UK workforce made up of women between the ages of 45-54, the age at which going through the menopause is most likely, the impacts are much more common than employers appear to acknowledge.

Menopause can have various effects on women in the workplace. The most commonly reported symptoms of menopause include difficulty sleeping, problems with memory and concentration, hot flashes, night sweats, anxiety, and depression. In fact, in a 2023 Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report, 67% of women aged 40-60 reported psychological issues such as mood disturbances, memory loss, and panic attacks.

These symptoms have significantly impacted many women’s abilities to concentrate, as well as increasing stress levels, and reducing her confidence. As a result, women may find it challenging to perform their duties effectively, leading to decreased productivity and potential time off work.

For employers, this causes increased business costs including recruitment, as well as lack of productivity, and poor company culture. If adjustments are not made, working women will feel as though they are not appreciated, are undervalued, and this can lead to further talent losses. In fact, the 2023 CIPD report on menopause at work saw 17% of menopausal women looking to potentially leave their workplace due to a lack of support.

But symptoms don’t just impact the women and their employers; inadequate responses to menopause in the workplace leads to losses in the economy. According to an inquiry led by the House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee, 31% of menopausal workers took time off work as a direct result of their symptoms, and the more recent CIPD survey saw this number was 53% – over half. This has meant that around fourteen million workdays were reported lost in the UK in 2018 due to menopause.

The number of menopausal working women is expected to increase, and by 2030, menopause-related productivity losses could cost more than $150 billion a year globally. These statistics highlight the significant impact of menopause on both individuals and the economy, and why something must be done to improve the current situation.


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What is Occupational Health and Its Role in Organizations?

Occupational health is a branch of medicine that focuses on work-related illness and injury. Occupational health teams play a vital role in keeping employees safe and healthy while at work, as well as managing any risks in the workplace that could lead to instances of ill-health. They aim to keep people well at work, both physically and mentally, whilst protecting the company from causing harm to employees and avoiding compensatory legal claims.

With occupational health being responsible for the mental and physical health of employees, this should by definition include the mental and physical health of those suffering from menopause related ailments.

How Occupational Health Can Aid Menopause in the Workplace

Occupational health teams can play a crucial role in supporting menopausal employees and creating a menopause-friendly workplace. Here are some ways in which they can contribute:

Training and Education: Occupational health teams can provide training and education to raise awareness about menopause, reduce stigma, and ensure that employees and managers are better equipped to understand and support menopausal employees. This knowledge can lead to a more supportive and inclusive work environment.

Open conversations between colleagues, managers, supervisors, and employees across all levels about the menopause will allow women to freely talk about their experiences and concerns without fear of discrimination or stigma.

Solutions for Menopause-related Work Issues: Occupational health teams can offer practical solutions to address menopause-related challenges in the workplace. For example, they can work with employees and managers to establish flexible work hours, provide temperature control options, and make adjustments to the working environment to accommodate the needs of menopausal employees.

CIPD have reported that of those who have provisions in place, 48% of menopausal women have access to planned flexible working and 46% have control of temperature in their workspace. Access to occupational health support was also labelled as one of the most helpful provisions available to them, though only 34% were offered this by their employers.

Access to Menopause Treatments: Occupational health teams can facilitate access to menopause treatment such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) combined with clinical menopause support. HRT is a medical treatment that can alleviate menopausal symptoms and improve overall well-being. By providing information and resources about available treatments, occupational health teams can also support menopausal employees in managing their symptoms and maintaining their productivity.

At Bodyline, we understand the challenges that menopausal women face in the workplace. We offer corporate solutions to support menopausal employees, including training and workshops, bespoke audits to identify how menopause is impacting your business, and our gold standard menopause treatment plan, the M Plan.

The M Plan is a fully supported HRT treatment plan completely personalised to each employee based on blood profiling and medical history. Our consultative approach ensures that the M Plan delivers positive outcomes for the patient as well as the organisation.

But why should you use Bodyline alongside occupational health?

Why Companies Should Ensure Occupational Health Teams Cover Menopause

Ensuring that occupational health teams cover menopause is not only beneficial for the well-being of menopausal employees but also for the overall success of the organization. There are plenty of arguments as to why companies should prioritise menopause support within their occupational health programs.

Legal Compliance: Failing to make reasonable adjustments and support menopausal employees can expose companies to potential lawsuits and significant financial pay-outs. By addressing menopause-related issues through occupational health programs, companies can mitigate legal risks and demonstrate their commitment to creating an inclusive and supportive work environment.

A case study that should be used as a cautionary tale is that of Direct Line’s failure to adjust their performance management process for a menopausal employee, costing them £65,000 in a pay-out. Experts believe occupational health should have been referred to at a much earlier point, and advice should have been implemented. This is not the only case of massive pay-outs thanks to discrimination claims from menopausal employees, and with education improving – it probably won’t be the last.

Improved Employee Well-being and Productivity: Supporting menopausal employees through occupational health programs can improve their overall well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity. By providing the necessary resources, education, and support, companies can help menopausal employees manage their symptoms effectively and continue to contribute to the organisation’s success.

Retention of Talent and Experience: Menopausal employees often have years of experience and expertise that can be valuable assets to the organization. By prioritising their health and well-being, companies can retain this talent, ensuring continuity and knowledge transfer within the workforce.

A Channel 4 survey of menopausal women found that 1 in 10 had left work due to the menopause. That’s 10% of women who stopped working thanks to the debilitating symptoms that menopause had brought on them, which translates to a lot of talent and experience that has gone from the workforce. The retention of talent and experience is so important to the success of businesses in all sectors, so if occupational health can reduce this loss, then it should be prioritised.

Occupational health plays a critical role in supporting a menopausal workforce. By providing training, solutions, and access to treatments, occupational health teams can create a menopause-friendly work environment that supports the well-being and productivity of menopausal employees. Companies that prioritise menopause support within their occupational health programs not only comply with legal obligations but also foster a culture of inclusivity, well-being, and employee retention.

With over 17 years of experience, we have helped thousands of women achieve their wellness goals and enhance their quality of life. To learn more about our corporate solutions, including the M Plan, please contact us today at 0800 995 6036 or through our contact form.

Remember, prioritising the health and well-being of menopausal employees benefits the individuals, the organisation, and the economy as a whole. Let’s create a fair, supportive, and caring work environment that values the talent and experience of women at all stages of life.

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Menopausal women are the fastest growing demographic in the UK workforce with a third of the UK’s female population, around 13 million women, currently in the perimenopause or menopause stage of life. Menopausal age women between 45 and 54 make up 11% of the UK working demographic and 23% of all women in employment. Menopause, whilst a natural life transition that half the population will go through, has traditionally been a taboo subject particularly between men and women. A UCL-led study carried out in May 2021 found that 9 out 10 women were never educated about the menopause – it’s therefore no stretch to conclude that men have generally been even less informed on what to expect and how to deal with it, especially in the workplace.

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