Hands up if you’ve ever had a conversation at work about the menopause. Juliet Saimbi from Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace says it’s vital we all start talking about it.

11th September 2019

Normalise menopause as a subject and make employees aware that support is available... We need to get everyone talking about it.


Why is menopause in the spotlight all of a sudden?

As people have become more accustomed to discussing mental health, being open about previously taboo subjects such as menopause is becoming more commonplace.

The government commissioned a report in 2017 – the snappily titled The effects of menopause transition on women’s economic participation in the UK – which reported “menopause is effectively the missing life-stage in workplace policy, culture and training”. So a lot still needs to be done.

Why is talking about menopause at work important?

Women are a powerful force in the workplace, and they’re working for longer. Menopause on average starts at 51, but can be much younger than that, and women can expect to work to 65 or older.

Midlife women have built up a wealth of knowledge and are great mentors to the next generation of workers. To lose valuable employees because of a lack of support during a natural transition is a huge waste.

Hang on. A lack of menopausal support is causing women to leave their jobs?

According to research, one in four menopausal women considers quitting. Typical symptoms – forgetfulness, feeling anxious and emotional, physical discomfort – can degrade a women’s confidence, and make her feel unable to do her job. 

Your own menopause experience led you to a new career.

Yes. I was leadership and development manager for Severn Trent, and went from feeling I was a highly valued member of the team to feeling like I may have to leave the job I loved because of severe menopause symptoms. 

I came across Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace and engaged them to help me lead menopause education in Severn Trent.  I did this for two years, winning awards, and Severn Trent is known as a trailblazer in this area. I have now joined the Henpicked team to educate other organisations, which is amazing.

How did it help?

First and foremost, they get people talking about menopause. They offer training, toolkits, online assistance, guidelines and advice on everything from medical options, to coping mechanisms and lifestyle changes.

Are men invited to this party?

Yes! Men are not only line managers and colleagues to women – and thus have a responsibility to understand menopause; they may also have partners and family members who are struggling with the experience, who need support and understanding too.

Where can companies start with better practice?

Part of the philosophy that we promote is “reasonable adjustments” – what small steps could make a big difference to a woman going through a difficult week of symptoms? For example, flexible working hours could alleviate the strain of poor sleep. Providing a quiet room if some private time is needed. A desk fan to help combat the hot flushes was a big deal for me.

How can comms teams support this initiative? 

Start with little and often to get the ball rolling – posters on the backs of toilet doors with stats and myth busters, ‘Did you know?’s in a leaflet or Twitter campaign. Get people to share their stories. Normalise it as a subject and make employees aware that support is available.

Use all your comms channels to promote a central resource of toolkits and guidelines on menopause – look at the Chartered Institute of Personal Development and Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace websites for tips and advice. There’s a wealth of information out there – we just need to get everyone talking about it.

Normalise menopause as a subject and make employees aware that support is available... We need to get everyone talking about it.


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