Retaining Your Most Valuable Employees Through Menopause
In 2019, nearly 60 million working women in the U.S. were either approaching or in menopause. In their mid-40s and 50s, these are women in the prime of their careers. They’re employees who tend to be rich in experience and knowledge, making significant contributions, and ascending to or already in pivotal leadership roles. In other words, they’re the employees you’ve invested in and want to keep. The employees your competitors would love to snatch up.
More and more, companies are combating attrition by anticipating, then meeting, the needs of their employees. If you offer paid time off for family leave, set aside a lactation room for nursing mothers, provide wellness programs or fertility benefits, or allow employees to work flexible hours, your company is in good company. If you’re looking for new ways to retain some of your most valuable employees—women in their mid-40s and 50s—it’s smart to turn your focus to menopause. And if you do, you’ll be among the vanguard of this emerging trend.
Marking a woman’s transition to the post-childbearing years, menopause is really just a date—the 1 year anniversary of a woman’s last period. Most commonly, this falls around age 51. But in the 5 or so years leading up to that (known as perimenopause) and the 10 or more years following it, the fluctuations in a woman’s estrogen and progestin levels can cause a host of symptoms that can be disruptive to both her personal and professional life. Or not. Some women sail through the transition easily. Others have a few symptoms, but they’re not troubling enough to amount to much. But others—84% of women surveyed by the AARP— struggle with some combination of hot flashes/night sweats (a.k.a. vasomotor symptoms), insomnia, mood swings, migraines, anxiety, brain fog, or more, and said they disrupted their lives, including work.
Those symptoms can come at a cost to employers. A 2015 study looking at those costs found that women with untreated vasomotor symptoms used significantly more healthcare resources:
- 82% higher for all-cause outpatient visits
- 121% higher for outpatient visits related to vasomotor symptoms
These women also had 57% more indirect work productivity loss days, which amounted to an annual incremental indirect cost per patient of US$770.
What makes navigating these symptoms that much more troubling for women is that menopause isn’t a common topic of conversation, especially at the office. Unless someone has gone through it, they don’t really understand it. And that lack of understanding can make people feel uncomfortable hearing about it. And women experiencing the symptoms can fear they will be sidelined if they’re vocal about them. So they “buck up” and often suffer in silence.
Imagine you’re at the top of your game in your career, and how the following scenarios might impact your job satisfaction if you had no support from your employer:
- Every hour or so—could be in a meeting, or during a presentation, or on a client call—you’re engulfed in a suffocating heat that’s inescapable. You start to sweat, your heartbeat starts to increase, you feel you have to start removing layers of clothing or step outside to cool down.
- You haven’t slept for more than five hours/night for the past month (or year).
- You’ve had a splitting headache for 2 days.
- You just can’t focus on the task at hand. Unless you take detailed notes in every meeting, you forget what you need to take care of.
- In the middle of a meeting, you suddenly have to go to the bathroom, and you have to go NOW.
What would it look like if your employer had policies in place to support you in these moments and more?
What your company can do
If you’re not sure how to support employees experiencing menopause symptoms, you’re not alone. Menopause policies are somewhat new here in the US, although some recommendations are emerging. Employers in Europe have developed a number of policies meant to support and retain these workers. Here are several:
Menopause Discussion Groups - Just like any special interest group at a company, this brings together women in perimenopause and menopause to talk about their experiences and learn from each other. It’s a safe place to share the good, the bad and everything in between.
Access to Information - Marks & Spencer in England created a Manage your Menopause micro-site on their employee wellness site. Yours could house videos, tips, product information, links to articles and books, etc.
Menopause Training - When managers understand menopause, they can better support employees who are impacted by it.
Paid Leave and Flexible Working Arrangements - On days when menopause symptoms cause an employee to feel unable to work in the office, offer her paid leave or the ability to work remotely if she’s not already, and/or flexible hours.
Menopause-conducive Workspaces - A broadcaster in the UK, Channel 4, implemented menopause policies last year that included private, cool, quiet workspaces and annual workspace assessments to ensure needs continue to be met.
Coverage for Expert Menopause Care - Most women don’t know who to turn to for help in managing their menopause symptoms. And it’s not their fault. According to that same study conducted by AARP, 80% of gynecology residency programs in the US spend exactly 0 hours on menopause education. So even a woman’s trusted OB-GYN might not be up to speed on the latest treatments.
Add to that the fact that menopause symptoms are wiley. Just when one of them is responding to a new treatment, a new symptom may pop up. And one treatment may work for a while, then stop working and need to be adjusted. So menopause care requires an ongoing relationship with a physician who is well versed in the intricacies of all of the symptoms and the nuances of their various treatments. Gennev provides this level of menopause expertise and care to women via video visits with doctors who specialize in menopause, care-team messaging, and access to ongoing menopause education, treatments, and tips.
The headline here is that women in peri/menopause can absolutely stay at the top of their game at work. And they’ll likely stay with employers who help them find the medical support they need to do so.
Let’s tackle this together
If you're a working woman in perimenopause, you understand that things like brain fog, fatigue, hot flashes, heavy periods and lack of sleep can make the day feel very long. Gennev is now offering trusted treatment and solutions for the workplace. We want to help your employers support you better. If you're interested in getting your employer more information about Gennev Menopause Wellness Solutions, click here.
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