Being menopause friendly means supporting all colleagues, whether they’re going through menopause themselves or supporting someone who is. It means understanding the potential impacts menopausal symptoms can have at work, and what support you can offer to help. It means raising awareness across your whole organisation, and making sure menopause is never a barrier to job satisfaction.
It's about introducing long-term, sustainable change in your workplace, creating and fostering an inclusive culture for everyone to be at their best.
Here are my top five tips on how to achieve this:
1. Get the conversation started
The more we talk about it, the easier it gets and the more we normalise it. We see some amazing engagement campaigns in organisations, involving everyone, particularly around World Menopause Day on 18 October. For some it can still be a tricky topic to navigate, so think of it as a drumbeat that keeps the conversations going. Even something as simple as getting everyone to say the word ‘menopause’ out loud can help at first.
2. Put it in writing (and make it known)
You could develop a policy to sit alongside your others. Or you could decide on a guidance document or similar. Set down everything your colleagues need to know about how to seek or offer menopause support and make it clear to everyone how to access the support. Having these in place demonstrates the importance to your organisation, but do make sure it’s easily accessible and you signpost to it regularly.
3. Offer training to your HR, line managers and all colleagues
This should at least include the key facts about the menopause and what’s available in your organisation and externally to help. Make sure your managers know how to have sensitive, confidential conversations with their team members about menopause, and understand how to offer the right support. Introduce this training at induction level, so new starters or new line managers are up to speed too. And don’t fall into the trap of thinking menopause is just for women. You need to make sure everyone can access the training and has the same information and access to support.
4. Look to your environment
Two powerful questions to ask your colleagues: What’s getting in the way of you being at your best at work now? What would help you? The feedback will help you understand what changes you can make that will make a big difference. These are usually simple and easy to implement, like an extra uniform or a desk fan, but they can make the world of difference to the individual.
5. Signpost to further support
Does your company have an Employee Assistance Programme, a counselling service, could HR or Occupational Health help? Your role as an employer is not to diagnose menopause or suggest ways to manage symptoms, but rather to highlight where support and advice is available.
Being menopause friendly is important. But you do need to make the commitment, involve others, listen and take the first steps and make sure this is an evolving plan to embed and make it sustainable.