Worldwide, the number of postmenopausal women is on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, menopause typically occurs between the ages of 45 and 55, and the average age of menopause is 51. In 2021, women aged 50 and above constituted 26% of the total female population, marking an increase from 22% ten years earlier.1 Menopause is occurring at an earlier age, which highlights the growing need for organisations to step up their Duty of Care responsibilities to provide enhanced support for their female employees going through menopause.
The symptoms and experiences associated with menopause can vary widely among individuals. Menopause, with its numerous complexities, has adverse effects on the quality of life of women and often impacts their professional lives, with some reporting an increase in missed work due to the physical and emotional effects.2 It is crucial for organisations to recognise the diversity of experiences and tailor support accordingly.
Dr Kate O’Reilly, Medical Director of International SOS, said
Menopause is the result of changes in the levels of a hormone called oestrogen, and its impact on women’s wellbeing and productivity is significant. Other causes of menopause include surgery, chemotherapy or genetic conditions and cases sometimes result in early menopause. Employers should prioritise understanding and addressing the unique needs and challenges that menopausal employees face.
It is important for organisations to understand that menopause symptoms vary from person to person. Symptoms include anxiety, mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, joint and muscle aches and vaginal dryness, dry skin and hair and weight gain. The duration of symptoms can range from months to several years. Whilst there has been progress in normalising the conversations around menopause, work settings can help women further by having a menopause policy, providing a supportive environment, raising awareness and signposting anyone with concerns to sources of further information.
International SOS provides top expert advice for organisations to promote inclusivity and support their workforce in navigating the challenges of menopause:
- Education and awareness: Provide comprehensive information and training to employees and managers about the menopause transition and its potential impact on health and productivity. Encourage open conversations and reduce the stigma associated with menopause.
- Promote inclusivity: Ensure that your organisation's diversity and inclusion initiatives explicitly include gender-specific considerations, including those related to menopause.
- Develop supportive policies: Menopause-specific policies may include paid leave options, flexible working hours, or access to healthcare resources tailored to managing menopausal symptoms. Ensure that these policies are well-communicated and accessible to all employees.
- Flexible work arrangements: Offer flexible work arrangements and accommodations to help employees manage symptoms such as hot flushes, fatigue and mood swings. Flexible scheduling and remote work options can be invaluable.
- Health and wellbeing programmes: Implement wellness programmes that focus on nutrition, exercise, stress management, and mental health support. These programmes can help employees navigate the physical and emotional challenges of menopause.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs): Ensure that EAPs are equipped to address menopausal concerns, providing access to professional guidance and support for employees in need.
1. World Health Organization | Fact Sheet | Menopause
2. BMC Women's Health | Assessing young adults' menopause knowledge to increase understanding of symptoms and help improve quality of life for women going through menopause; a student survey
About the International SOS Group of CompaniesThe International SOS Group of Companies is in the business of saving lives, protecting your global workforce from health and security threats. Wherever you are, we deliver customised health, security risk management and wellbeing solutions to fuel your growth and productivity. In the event of extreme weather, an epidemic or a security incident, we provide an immediate response providing peace of mind. Our innovative technology and medical and security expertise focus on prevention, offering real-time, actionable insights and on-the-ground quality delivery. We help protect your people, your organisation's reputation, as well as support your compliance reporting needs. By partnering with us, organisations can fulfil their Duty of Care responsibilities, while empowering business resilience, continuity and sustainability.
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