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Five Ways to Support Menopausal Employees

Menopause (the end of menstruation) and perimenopause (the years just before) can come with a host of symptoms. Anxiety, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, burnout, menstrual changes, cognitive changes, depression, hot flashes, and sleep issues are common experiences.



Last month, 17 United States senators (all women) introduced legislation that would, if passed, “strengthen and expand federal research on menopause, health care workforce training, awareness and education efforts, and public health promotion and prevention to better address menopause and mid-life women’s health issues.” Currently, there are no federal or state laws that provide explicit protections for menopausal or perimenopausal employees.


Menopause (the end of menstruation) and perimenopause (the years just before) can come with a host of symptoms. Anxiety, brain fog, headaches, joint pain, burnout, menstrual changes, cognitive changes, depression, hot flashes, and sleep issues are common experiences, though not everyone experiences them to the same degree. Together, perimenopause and menopause can last from several years to a decade or more.


Symptoms can be challenging and stressful for those experiencing them, resulting in missed work, reduced productivity, and increased turnover. These symptoms are generally manageable, however, and shouldn’t impact the quality of an employee’s work, especially if you’re willing to offer support. Here are ways to do that:


Educate Leaders

Share information with your leadership team about menopause—what it is, how it may affect employees, and what managers can do to be empathetic and supportive. Go over the common symptoms and impacts those symptoms can have on work. Train managers not to make assumptions about whether an employee is going through menopause, what symptoms someone may be experiencing, or what comfort level they have talking about it. Make sure managers understand their legal obligation to prevent harassment and discrimination.


Create a Safe Space

Normalize talking about menopause and accepting it as a reality in the workplace. Let employees know it’s okay to talk about their symptoms and request accommodations. If there’s interest, set up a voluntary employee resource group (ERG) for employees to discuss their struggles and share solutions. Leaders can help build trust by being open and vulnerable about their own experiences and by responding quickly to any allegations of bias, discrimination, or retaliation. That said, no one should feel compelled to acknowledge being menopausal or perimenopausal or to identify symptoms they’re experiencing. Not everyone feels comfortable discussing these matters, even in a safe environment.


Implement Supportive Policies and Practices

Consider adapting workplace policies to accommodate the needs of employees experiencing symptoms during any stage of menopause, even if those accommodations are not legally required. Encourage managers to engage in open dialogue with their direct reports to identify specific adjustments to help alleviate symptoms. Some ideas:

  • Desk fans

  • Access to a quiet, cool, and dark rest area

  • Unscheduled breaks

  • Remote work

  • Paid time off

  • Reduced hours

  • Expanded sick or wellness leave

  • Relaxed or adjusted dress codes


While menopause and perimenopause are not in themselves disabilities, their effects could rise to that level, in which case the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) would apply. You can learn more about your obligations under the ADA on the platform.


Provide Health and Wellness Benefits

You can further support perimenopausal and menopausal employees with health and wellness benefits. Health insurance can help keep their costs down. An employee assistance program (EAP) can provide them with counseling and education, preparing them for what they can expect and helping them navigate their current symptoms. Wellness plans can be adjusted to target menopause and women’s health. Be sure to share information about these programs with your employees and periodically remind them of the benefits. You can’t just add the benefits and expect your employees to stumble upon them or know where to go for information.


Measure Success

After taking these steps, your perimenopausal and menopausal employees should feel more supported, but it’s good to verify this instead of assuming it. Survey employees on what’s going well and what could be better, keep an eye on benefit utilization rates, and talk with managers about what they’re hearing from their direct reports. Make changes as needed.

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