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Workplace support for menopause: Addressing an unmet need
Guest Post: Maven
May 19, 2023
Rachel Alfred
Timer  Read Time: 5 minutes
Menopause, the natural cessation of menstrual cycles in individuals with ovaries, affects millions of women in the United States each year, typically between the ages of 45 and 55. However, the topic of menopause and its impact on women in the workplace remains largely unaddressed, with consequences for employees and employers alike.

Research indicates that worldwide productivity losses due to menopause amount to over $150 billion annually, with over $2,100 in direct and indirect healthcare costs per woman per year. By fostering an age-inclusive work culture with corresponding benefits, companies can better support employees as they navigate their menopause journey.

Understanding menopause and its treatment
A person enters menopause when they’ve gone 12 months without a period. The time leading up to that point, called perimenopause, usually lasts between three and seven years. Despite how common this is, it is still an emerging field of study in the healthcare system. 80% of OB-GYN residents report feeling “barely comfortable” discussing or treating menopause, indicating that most employees will likely need to seek out specialty care for their menopausal needs.
How menopause affects your employees
Understanding and normalizing the effects of menopause on employees can help improve their well-being and productivity during this change in their lives.

Vasomotor symptoms

Hot flashes and brain fog, two common menopausal symptoms, can significantly impact employees’ well-being. Hot flashes can occur randomly throughout the day, causing discomfort and distress, while brain fog, often linked to poor sleep quality, can diminish employee energy levels.

Mental health

Menopausal employees are at a higher risk of mental health issues due to vasomotor symptoms and fluctuating hormone levels. Research shows that over a third of women experiencing menopausal symptoms also report depression, reduced quality of life and decreased workplace productivity.

Workplace stigma

Menopause can be an isolating experience in the workplace, with employees fearing discrimination or being labeled as “old.” A recent survey found that one in three women in the U.K. took time off due to menopausal symptoms, but only a small percentage informed their coworkers or requested adjustments to be more comfortable. Another study found that nearly 1 million women in the U.K. quit their jobs because of menopausal symptoms, indicating the significant role this experience plays in the lives of employees.

Examining menopause benefits at work
Companies have started offering workplace benefits to support employees during menopause, such as:

  • Flexible working arrangements: Allowing employees to work from home, have part-time schedules, or adjust their hours can help manage symptoms and minimize stress
  • Menopause education and support: Providing online, clinically approved resources can help employees better understand and manage their symptoms
  • Access to virtual healthcare services: On-demand virtual access to healthcare providers can support employees during menopause
  • Mental health support: Providing access to mental health providers can help employees navigate the emotional challenges of menopause
Creating workplace policies to help employees navigate menopause
As research into menopause continues, it’s clear that it’s an unmet need of great importance in every organization. Employers can support menopause in the workplace in four ways:

1. Minimizing stigma

One of the key things employers can do is reduce the stigma around menopause. Train managers on discussing menopause, create employee resource groups (ERGs) for women’s health, and provide accessible educational resources to build an age-inclusive culture.

2. Fostering an age-inclusive environment

Consider office adjustments like improved climate control or offering fans and portable A/C units. These efforts can help employees manage their symptoms while demonstrating your commitment to supporting them. Also, offering paid leave or expanding sick day usage to include menopausal symptoms can help employees take time off comfortably.

3. Increasing access to specialty care

Because symptoms can be so diverse, and providers often feel untrained or unprepared to treat menopause, many of your employees will need access to specialty care providers like reproductive endocrinologists or mental health specialists. Rather than going through the complicated loop of referrals and waitlists, adding a virtual-care benefit for women’s and family health like Maven can help your employees get the support they need.

4. Encourage open dialogue

Create a safe space for employees to share their experiences and seek assistance. Offer access to online or in-person support groups and train managers to handle conversations around menopause, providing a lifeline for employees as they balance work and menopausal symptoms.

Maven can help support your age-inclusive health benefits
Maven is the complete digital family health platform for payers and employers seeking to provide more inclusive, cost-effective care to women and families. By offering members high-touch care navigation, specialized care teams, and evidence-based care management programs, Maven delivers the right care at the right time, all within a seamless virtual experience. To learn more, contact us today.
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