Over fifty percent of the population will go through the menopause during the course of their life. So why is it talked about so little? Why is having a menopause policy not the norm? And what should be in one? We spoke to Stefanie Joy Daniels who founded Life Begins at Menopause after going through early-onset menopause, post surgery. She explained how we can better support our teams, make simple lifestyle changes to mitigate the symptoms of menopause and dispel the gloomy narrative surrounding it
Menopause shouldn’t be an afterthought
Shortly after surgery, Stefanie was handed a leaflet on the menopause, briefly outlining symptoms.
“That was the first time they’d ever hinted at going into the menopause and words like mood swings, hot flushes, fatigue and anxiety all swirled around and messed with my head.” Says Stefanie.
Her experiences following this led her to create Life Begins at Menopause, to facilitate businesses in supporting peri-menopausal and menopausal team members. Although this is an extreme example of how menopause is often overlooked, it is reflective of how it is often treated as an afterthought.
When menopause is an inevitability, why should this be the case?
And what can agencies do to support their teams in a meaningful way?
What does the menopause have to do with me?
Many people going through the menopause feel unsupported and their symptoms dismissed by others. When this happens in the workplace, it can have huge repercussions, including:
- poor employee engagement and low morale
- reduced performance and lost productivity
- high rates of sickness-related or even unauthorised absenteeism
- poor working relationships and conflict at work
- a damaged employer-employee relationship
- loss of valuable members of staff who feel forced to resign
So what can be done to avoid this? Plenty, says Stefanie.
Practically supporting your team
Underpinning any practical solutions, an important part of a supportive workplace is its culture. Jokes at the expense of the menopause (and periods, whilst we’re at it,) should probably be consigned to the dustbin of the past. Whether or not something is said in jest, it still impacts the people actually affected by it.
In terms of practical solutions, even small changes can make a huge difference. Stefanie says:
“A desk fan probably the most obvious thing when they get a hot flush. A quiet room can be helpful to take time out to manage symptoms, offering flexible working, with changes to contracts more time away from the computer.
And my favourite one, having walking meetings, will have a massive impact.
I work with the Daily Mail and they have menopause mentors, almost a bit like first aiders. So if someone’s feeling that they want to offload, they go and they speak to these menopause mentors. I actually train those menopause mentors. So they’ve got somewhere to go.”
Life begins at menopause.
You should consider formalising all of this into a specific menopause policy. You should include policies on menopause-related absence, any support available, health & safety, performance management and flexible working. This way, you ensure that all parties have a mutual understanding of all the needs and expectations involved. It also goes a long way in helping with the issues surrounding staff retention, outlined above.
Stefanie combines on her 22 year career with top media brands and her personal expereince to provide personalised support to employees in the media workplace. She I set up ‘Life Begins at Menopause’ to offer a safe space where people can talk about their symptoms, nutrition and lifestyle options, at a time that suits them.