The workforce in the UK is getting older, with 8 in 10 menopausal women in work
At Abbeyfield, we aim to talk about the menopause more openly in the workplace, and give individuals the confidence and knowledge to seek or offer support. We spoke to Gail Manley, HR Director and Claire Newsome, HR Business Partner about the steps Abbeyfield are taking, and other organisations can take, to achieve this.
Why it's important to talk
The menopause is a stage in life that usually occurs between 45 and 55 years of age, however it may start earlier or end later and happens naturally as hormone levels decline. It may happen suddenly if a woman is going through treatment that impacts the ovaries. In the UK, the average age for woman to reach the menopause is 51.
"Experiences and perceptions of menopause differ enormously, and our beliefs can be influenced by our own experiences. The reality is that women experience menopause with differing symptoms and degrees of symptoms, it can also affect partners and families." said Claire. "Often, women are reluctant to discuss menopause-related health problems with their line manager, or ask for the support or adjustments they may need. We want to help everyone feel comfortable to have open and honest conversations about menopause, never feeling that the subject is taboo or off limits. Our aim is to make sure everyone knows what support is available. Of course, our residents may also be experiencing menopause symptoms, if we have a greater understanding ourselves, then we can support them better too."
Abbeyfield's menopause policy
"We are passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion." said Gail. "We want Abbeyfield to be a great place to live and work for everyone. Wellbeing is a big part of that, especially given what we do, and menopause is a really important topic that we all need to understand and know what support is available. It's for these reasons that we created our own menopause policy."
The aim of this policy is;
- to educate and inform managers about the potential symptoms of the menopause,
- to explain how managers can support women at work,
- to help employees understand the menopause and related issues and how they can affect female employees,
- to raise wider awareness and understanding amongst employees.
Abbeyfield is a dedicated employer who strives to support all of our employees. This is just the start in our support for those experiencing menopause.
How we're celebrating World Menopause Day 2021
At Abbeyfield we employ a high proportion of female employees (over 80%) and over 40% of our female employees are over the age of 50. It is essential that we support both our female employees and residents through the menopause. World Menopause Day is a great opportunity to raise awareness and also encourage open conversations about menopause amongst our teams.
To mark the occasion we have shared a variety of resources with our staff, created a quiz to help educate those who may not know much about the menopause and raise awareness, and our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) providers are hosting a live webinar for all staff to attend if they wish. In support of the high number of female employees, especially those in the 50+ age group.
"We’re also establishing a small working group of staff volunteers to help spread the word about menopause and develop action plans to promote menopause awareness and support." Said Gail.
"Another step we have taken, is our application to become a ‘Menopause Friendly Accreditation’." Said Claire. We decided to apply so that we could;
- change mindsets and attitudes towards menopause. Making it as easy to talk about as the weather,
- encourage everyone to understand what menopause is and be able to talk about it openly. This isn’t just an issue for women, everyone needs to know so they can support colleagues, friends and family,
- allow those experiencing menopause symptoms to feel confident to discuss it and ask for support if they need to, so that they can continue being happy and successful at work,
- help managers to understand menopause, to confidently have good conversations, and know how to help.
Supporting employees through our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP)
When we asked Gail and Claire about the EAP, they said, "We have the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) in place to help employees on life’s journey. Provided by Care First, the EAP offers all employees a free personal and confidential support system 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – just by picking up the phone.
"The EAP can help with events like buying a new home, illness, managing money, relationships and raising children. As well as accessing information services our staff can talk to a qualified counsellor to help them work through any concerns and deal with anxiety and stress.
"Resources available include articles on health, issues at home or work, management support tools, stress questionnaires and online counselling in real time. They are designed to help with a wide range of work, family and personal issues. Care First have a menopause section on their website and are able to provide support to staff experiencing menopause."
Take a look at all the rewards and benefits of working at Abbeyfield.
Join the conversation
For more information about menopause, including ways you can manage the symptoms and a list of useful resources, visit our blog; Let's Talk About Menopause. Help us raise awareness across social media channels by sharing this blog, along with your thoughts using the hashtag #MenopauseAtWork and #TheAbbeyfieldDifference.