3.5 million women have considered quitting job due to menopause and menstrual health symptoms
Almost a quarter (23%) of working women have considered quitting due to the impact of menopause or menstrual symptoms at work according to new research from healthcare provider Simplyhealth.
Almost nine in 10 (87%) working women want their employer to be more supportive when it comes to women’s health.
Simplyhealth, alongside the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD), urges employers to create a culture where employees can discuss women’s health issues and access support.
The workforce could lose millions of female employees unless more is done by employers to support women with menstrual and menopausal health symptoms, according to new research from workplace health provider Simplyhealth.
The research found almost a quarter (23%) of women have considered quitting due to the impact of menopause or menstrual symptoms at work, and over one in ten (14%) are actively planning to quit.
Working women report that symptoms related to women’s health issues – including menopausal and menstrual symptoms – affected their mood at work (55%), their ability to concentrate (52%) and make them feel physically uncomfortable (46%), with two-fifths (40%) saying these symptoms affect their productivity.
Almost nine in 10 (87%) working women want their employer to be more supportive when it comes to women’s health with around a third (31%) looking for flexible home working, a quarter (25%) wanting time off for healthcare appointments and a fifth wanting menstrual (20%) and menopause (18%) leave.
Data from the recently published CIPD and Simplyhealth Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that just a quarter of employers have a menopause policy in place, however today’s research shows less than one in 10 (9%) of women going through menopause work for a business that offers leave for this.
The report found that more than two-fifths of employers say they offer planned flexible working (44%) as part of their menopause support compared with just 28% for menstrual health.
The CIPD’s Menopause Workplace Experiences report 2023, which surveyed over 2,000 women aged 40-60, currently employed in the UK, showed that written policies and support networks are the most common forms of workplace support but flexible working and ability to control temperature are seen by women as the most helpful to manage menopause symptoms at work.
Acting on this could help the seven million women aged 40-60 in the UK workforce (according to the same report), the vast majority of whom will go through the menopause transition during their working lives.
While employers have started to offer more support for women in the workplace, our research shows more is needed. By adopting policies that meet women's needs, employers can look to retain their workforce and positively impact their productivity. As well as training for line managers, and HR policies that support and normalise leave, offering access to healthcare support — such as immediate GP access, can be hugely beneficial.
There are over seven million women aged 40-60 in the UK workforce and most will experience menopause symptoms. Providing effective support to help people manage their symptoms at work will help employers to retain valuable skills and talent in a tight labour market. Supporting employees with a natural life event and genuine health issue is also the right thing to do
I was 39 when I started experiencing peri-menopausal symptoms including joint pain, loss of physical strength, anxiety and exhaustion.
Eventually, it got so bad that I had a full-blown breakdown in the office, which ultimately led to me leaving my job after a request to go part-time was denied due to my seniority.
I am now in a new workplace and have set up a group to discuss menopause with anyone interested, regardless of gender or seniority.
Although I hope it’s becoming easier to manage menopause in the workplace, unfortunately I know plenty of other women who have had experiences similar to mine. Things need to change to ensure better support for employees experiencing menopause.
This data on the impact of menstrual and menopausal symptoms in the workplace is shocking but sadly not surprising. We hear all the time of how pain and other symptoms, a culture of presenteeism and a lack of education for everyone, of all genders, on both periods and menopause has a real impact on people at work.
Employers should be taking a comprehensive approach to policies, culture and communication in the workplace, to ensure that the needs of women and people who menstruate and experience menopause are properly supported. This includes building everyone’s knowledge, having open conversations and making adjustments – for example, providing period products, factoring in breaks and rest time, and considering uniform requirements.
Workplaces prioritising change
Workplaces are increasingly providing better menopause support. The Health and Wellbeing at Work report found that almost half of employers (46%) offer provision for those experiencing menopause this year, compared with 30% in 2022. Over a third (35%) of employers said they encourage an open and supportive climate where employees are able to talk about menstrual health issues.
According to Simplyhealth’s new research among employees, the most common form of women’s health support currently provided is free period products, however less than a quarter (23%) of women said their workplaces offered this. The CIPD report found 32% of employers said they did this.
Women also reported receiving on-site advice for women’s health concerns (e.g. leaflets) (12%), educational talks (14%) and external health support e.g. health insurance or health plans (11%).
Around one in eight (12%) women reported there was training in place for managers to support employees with women’s health issues, with almost two-fifths (39%) saying they are comfortable talking to their manager about their health issues.
Steps employers can take
CIPD has released guidance on how to best support employees managing menopause at work here. Recommendations include:
● Develop a supportive framework and be clear on practical help that is available. This could include a specific menopause policy.
● Offer a broad range of flexible working options to suit a variety of roles.
● Offer employers the ability to control the temperature in the workplace
● Make sure that absence management policies are fair and flexible.
● Educate and train line managers so they are aware of menopause symptoms and organisational support.
● Understand the value of simple adjustments to working environments such as ways to cool the workplace, easy access to cold drinking water and washrooms, and uniform adaptations.
Simplyhealth health plans give members 24/7 access to GPs and counsellors who can advise on women’s health symptoms and related issues.