The average age of actual menopause is 51 in Australia.
A lot! I know most people think menopause is deeply personal. It’s the hot flashes some women endure and pretend isn’t happening. It’s when they stop having periods which would be a good thing, right?
But menopause doesn’t just mean women need to wear a lighter sweater. It causes insomnia (in 40- 60% of women), anxiety and depression (one in 3), mood swings (50%) aches and pains (60%), brain fog (80%) plus a host of other symptoms that I won’t list here. And they have impacts on your workers.
Ah, but who is at work still in their 70s I hear you ask!! THIS HAPPENS TO YOUNG WOMEN. The average age of actual menopause is 51 in Australia. These symptoms start in perimenopause, also known as menopause transition which precedes menopause by up to 10 years. This is happening to your team leaders, your sales force, your managers, your direct reports and uplines. Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workplace. Look at those statistics. Few women escape unscathed even if they’re not moaning about it to you!!!! Because of the veil of shame and stigma, because we don’t talk about it, these women don’t get the much needed and easily accessed effective treatments for these symptoms. They just soldier on.
The effect is a massive loss of confidence and 10% will quit their job altogether. If they hang on in their 14% drop their hours and of those who push on at work 80% feel menopause symptoms is negatively affecting their productivity and their relationships with their colleagues. Worldwide, menopause-related productivity losses are costing $150 billion a year, Bloomberg has reported. Here in Australia, The Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) has estimated menopause costs women between $17 and $35 billion per year in lost earnings and superannuation.
And if you have a business, it affects YOUR bottom line, too. It affects morale at work. It reduces output from your workforce. It can mean more workforce turnover and the loss of vital corporate knowledge and skills. Modelling by Oxford Economics suggested that if a woman earning £25,000 a year leaves her job due to problematic menopause symptoms, it would cost her employer over £30,500 to replace her.
The worst thing is that it’s all fixable.
Sure, as a workplace you can’t get a worker the treatments she needs. That’s her role.
But here’s what workplaces can (and should) do;
- Acknowledge the issue at board and senior executive level. It is critical that a clear statement is issued from the senior leadership team and board that recognises that the menopause is a workplace issue.
- Have a specific menopause workplace policy. Having a specific menopause in the workplace policy reenforces the organisation’s commitment to acknowledging that menopause is a workplace issue.
- Raise awareness and educate. It is critically important to raise awareness among the entire workforce of any organisation, including senior management and supervisors. This is critical to removing stigma and to encouraging women to seek help and support. Menopause specific workplace education programs should educate workers about how to have sensitive conversations about menopause with their colleagues at work.
- Be inclusive. A culture that embraces diversity, equity and inclusion and where there is zero tolerance of bullying and harassment of any kind will help women with symptoms of peri and menopause too.
At Don’t Sweat It- Menopause in the Workplace, we’re passionate about creating a win win- A win for midlife women and a win for workplaces. We have created a world first simple and accessible online course to improve education and awareness and reduce stigma, as well as workshops and webinars, Menopause policy development and menopause focused executive health checks. Reach out and let us help your workplace be a better place to work and retain its best people!