How supporting women with menopause can transform your workforce

Did you know that women in menopause are the fastest-growing workforce demographic today?¹ In 2019, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 15.5 million women ages 44 to 55 employed in the US, or 20% of working women today.² Those women will likely start to experience perimenopause, or already are experiencing perimenopause. Three out of four of women in menopause will experience symptoms, and a whopping 25% could experience severe, debilitating symptoms.³ The experience of women in menopause is different for every woman. These range from heavier periods, hot flashes, insomnia and interrupted sleep, changing estrogen levels that can impact mood (including anxiety and depression), PMS, brain fog, memory issues, heart palpitations, lack of confidence, poor concentration, and more.

Menopause is often a time of transition, and not only physical. While women in their 20s, 30s, and early 40s, might be balancing fertility, becoming a new mom, and family life, women in menopause might be balancing raising teenagers and young adults, while also balancing aging family. As women move into senior management, the double care burden of children and aging, alongside the physical and emotional impact of menopause can be overwhelming, and rightfully so.

The impact on work can be pretty obvious. Approximately 60% of women report cognitive impairment, or brain fog;⁴ 50% of women experience hot flashes and 40% face insomnia or challenges sleeping.⁵ A survey by the AARP, found that 84% of women said these physical and psychological changes disrupted their lives, including work; and 12% found the changes debilitating.

Despite this, approximately 50% of women don’t seek medical advice and the majority of women don’t feel comfortable talking about menopause at work.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and we can and must find ways to support the fastest growing demographic of working women in America today.

While we are lightyears ahead on bringing shame and embarrassment around women’s health in the reproductive years to the forefront by tackling it with normative and positive behaviors and support, menopause remains the taboo in the room. Recent research shows menopause is still associated with negativity, silence, discomfort and stigma.⁶

Since 2010, we have seen incredible focus and improvement on providing resources and support for fertility and families. Many companies in America are becoming family friendly, offering benefits, flexibility, and resources. But all that seems to take a hard stop after a woman’s child rearing years are over. Menopause is often the unacknowledged elephant in the room, despite the fact that the transition to menopause and menopause may span a whopping seven to fourteen years, starting between ages 45–55.⁷

The fact that menopause is largely unaddressed is not only bad for our colleagues and promoting an inclusive work environment, it’s also bad for business. Absenteeism from menopause can cost companies over $9.5 million annually in the US depending on their size.⁸ That’s right, 20% of the working women in menopause just missing work is impacting the bottom line in a big way. And this doesn’t account for other related costs like productivity losses, medical appointments during the workday and women who reduce their hours due to manage.⁹

The good news is that there is a lot you can do to support your female employees across the lifespan. In doing so, you’ll be on the cutting edge of companies to help women thrive at work, no matter their age.

We are including strategies to support mature women in your workplace, but we encourage you to have open, honest, and stigma-free conversations on the support women find most beneficial at your company.

Invest in tools and benefit services to support mature women in the workplace

Augment your existing health insurance plans for female employees, providing them with the best tools and services they need to pursue their health goals. Hela Health can help your company to customize a plan to ensure women have access to the most cutting edge support and resources technology has to offer, allowing them to thrive. Tools range from consultations with menopause specialists, to products that help alleviate symptoms from hot flashes to persistent vaginal dryness and pelvic floor function, all the way to classes and seminars on strategies to manage menopause at home and work.

Highlight alternative care options

Many women are seeking alternative care and therapy to manage menopause, from vitamins and diet change to acupuncture and synthetic, vegan hormone replacement tools. Since we know less than 1% of women are willing to change a spending habit to nurture self care, despite the fact that there may be huge payoffs in the workplace, help offset these costs by digital health wallets or stipends. Hela Health is one way to expand these alternative offerings.

Offer special accommodations

Make communication open and transparent between human resources and employees. Advertise a program for women in the workplace to request special tools to help them in menopause. It could anywhere from a single desk air conditioner or fan, standing desks, hydration monitors, or where relevant, access to extra, on site uniforms and supplies. The more open and transparent individual managers, as well as human resource departments are, the easier it will be to create an inclusive work environment where women can feel free to speak openly and without fear about their needs.

Introduce flexible and remote working options

Just like new moms cite flexible work location and hours as one of the most important benefits a company can offer, women in menopause also have unique health needs and caretaking schedules. Offer the same types of flexible work arrangements for women in menopause, removing shame and stigma around a natural occurrence in a woman’s life.

These tools are just the starting point. We hope they lead to real, open conversation among your leadership team to create a positive health culture for women. We know it not only impact your bottom line and save you huge amounts in absenteeism and lost productivity, but will lead to a more engaged, satisfied and loyal workforce.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

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