This month we celebrated International Women’s Day and as quotes and beautiful images of women flooded our feeds, it was highlighted that the journey to equality is still evolving with a significant gap. Globally, women hold only 2 in every 10 science, engineering, information and communication technology jobs.
Women’s health in the workplace has gained increased attention in recent years, with many employers recognizing the importance of supporting female employees through various stages of their lives. One stage that is often overlooked, and is completely misunderstood however, is menopause. Menopause is a natural biological process that marks the end of a woman’s reproductive years and can cause significant physical and emotional changes. This month leaders and clinicians sat at a Federal Parliamentary round table advocating for funding for GP training and education to support and retain women in the workforce. Statistics from the Australia Institute of Superannuation Trustees state that Menopause costs women a staggering $17 billion in lost wages and super.
In this article, we will explore women’s health in the workplace with a focus on menopause and the steps employers can take to support their female employees.
Menopause is a significant stage in a woman’s life that can last for over 10 years, during which the body undergoes various changes that can start from the age of 35. These changes are caused by a decrease in estrogen production, leading to symptoms such as hot flashes, night sweats, mood swings, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms can be debilitating and can severely impact a woman’s quality of life, affecting her work performance and productivity.
While there a personal accountability for each woman to make lifestyle changes to ease this transition, employers have a responsibility to support women experiencing menopause by providing a safe and healthy work environment. This includes implementing policies and practices that recognize the challenges faced by women during this time and providing the necessary resources to manage symptoms. Some strategies that employers can adopt include:
1. Flexible working arrangements: Employers can provide flexible working hours or remote work options to allow women to manage their symptoms more effectively. This can include adjusting work schedules to accommodate medical appointments or providing the option to work from home to minimize stress levels.
2. Education and awareness: Employers can provide training and education to both female employees and their colleagues to increase awareness and understanding of menopause. This can include providing information on the physical and emotional symptoms of menopause, how they can affect work performance, and what can be done to manage them.
3. Access to healthcare professionals: Employers can offer access to healthcare professionals such as gynaecologists, counsellors, and therapists to support women experiencing menopause. This can include providing information on where to find healthcare professionals, offering support through an employee assistance program (EAP), or providing medical coverage for relevant services.
4. Workplace accommodations: This can include providing fans or air conditioning to manage hot flashes, adjusting lighting to reduce eye strain, and offering ergonomic furniture to support physical changes.
5. Supportive workplace culture: Employers can create a supportive workplace culture that encourages open communication and provides a safe space for women to discuss their symptoms. This can include implementing policies that address menopause-related issues and promoting a culture that values the well-being of female employees.
By implementing these strategies, employers can create a more inclusive workplace that supports women experiencing menopause. This can lead to increased employee satisfaction and retention, as well as improved work performance and productivity.
In conclusion, I share here from own my personal journey of being a wellness facilitator and as a woman going through the first stage on this transition known as peri-menopause. There are many ways to manage these symptoms so this transition can be an empowering one. Education is fundamental in understanding this. For example, caffeine and alcohol consumption significantly worsens symptoms. A study conducted by the ABC in 2022 found that many mid-life women find a glass of wine a daily must have that numbs the pressure of competing responsibilities. Accountability is essential for our wellbeing but this is glaringly alarming that women feel they need to “numb” themselves to survive in a world that puts so much pressure on women. For many mid life women alcohol makes life “liveable” and reduces loneliness and isolation.
Women’s health in the workplace is an essential issue that requires greater attention and support. Employers can take steps to support female employees experiencing menopause by providing a safe and healthy work environment, offering flexible working arrangements, providing education and awareness, offering access to healthcare professionals, providing workplace accommodations, and promoting a supportive workplace culture. By taking these steps, employers can create a more inclusive workplace that supports the well-being of all employees.
About the Author
Leonie has been running her own multi award-winning business for over 10 years and has written 2 best-selling books, Mother Om, and Awakening and created the Magnetic Mama Podcast. Leonie has also mentored clients to help them create their own successful businesses. She has a deep understanding of how to create a powerful brand, build a credible profile and be a successful speaker. She has run sell-out events, workshops and retreats and has presented as a keynote speaker alongside such luminaries as Maggie Dent and Mia Freedman. As a Holistic Services Group facilitator, Leonie tailors all her presentations to the needs of your team. Topics include Mindfulness, Work-Life Balance, Parenting, Resilience, Trust, Managing your Energy, Not Your Time. Emotional Intelligence, Stress Management, Gratitude, Positive Psychology, Mental Health and Leadership Development. Leonie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication majoring in Psychology. She has certified qualifications in Intuitive Intelligence, and is a yoga and mindfulness teacher. She has travelled extensively to over 65 countries. Leonie has been featured in many publications including The Daily Telegraph, Wellbeing Magazine, Practical parenting and has won 5 business awards.