Menopause leads to more sick days, not to mention less productivity and confidence at work. In severe cases, women leave the workforce, derailing their careers and earning potential. Companies suffer, too. The loss of seasoned employees is expensive and undermining: It creates a void and sends a signal that menopause and the workplace don’t mix. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Together, we can change culture and policy so that women always have the support they need to thrive at work.
Menopause is expensive. A 2014 Yale University study found that women who experienced hot flashes had 1.5 million more healthcare visits than women without them, amounting to more than $339m in healthcare costs. The price tag for lost work was another $27m during the 12-month study.
When people don’t feel well, they can’t work at peak capacity. Brain fog is a well-documented symptom of menopause, as are hot flashes, sleep disruptions, headaches, and joint pain.
Menopausal women don’t always feel comfortable telling the truth about why they need to stay home. A 2019 survey by a U.K. organization focused on improving the workplace found that while 30% of those surveyed said they’d taken sick leave due to menopausal symptoms, only a fraction of those women were open about why.
Most women go through the menopause transition between ages 45 and 60, which is also when they reach their professional prime. But due to a frequent lack of support in the workplace coupled with an insufficient menopause standard of care, many in that age range drop out, leaving a void of senior female role models and a loss of institutional knowledge.
We know menopause isn’t easy to talk about, but it is a part of every woman’s life. Discussions at work can transform culture by raising awareness of how menopause affects women professionally. The key is acknowledging menopause and factoring it into policy so that women—who now make up 50.04% of the workforce, a number experts believe will continue to increase—can thrive in the workplace at all phases of their lives.
Company policy can encourage productivity by giving women more flexibility and support in the workplace. Some companies are nailing it, and yours can, too. Let’s Talk Menopause is here to help. Here are some best practices to consider when formulating your own plan:
Let’s Talk Menopause offers customizable workshops, panel discussions, and lunch-and-learn programs. Tell us who your audience is, how much time you have, and what you want to learn. We’ll create a tailored experience that’s just right for your company. Reach out to us here. We look forward to partnering with you.
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