HR Expert: Supporting employees through the menopause
My client owns a local farm shop. It’s quite a large operation, and they have a lot of staff. They have recently introduced a staff feedback group, as there had been some grumbles of discontent at the summer picnic. A few members of staff have brought to the group their concerns that not enough is being done to support those going through the menopause working at the shop. They don’t really know much about this, or what can they do. Is there any support I can give?

Menopause is quite a hot topic at the moment in HR. With many big-name employers, such as Tesco, PWC and Santander pledging to do more to support women going through the menopause, this is filtering through to all employers.

Taking steps such as recognising that menopause is an issue faced by women in the workplace, and the impact it can have on them, are important. Talking openly, positively and respectfully about it is the best way to approach this, as is actively supporting those employees affected.

Your client could use the feedback group to start a dialogue with the employees about how best to support them. Each workplace is unique, so getting those who have personally faced this within the farm shop, and how they could have better been supported, will help to gather ideas directly relevant to your client.

Practical steps they could take are developing a ‘Menopause at Work’ policy, that details the support available and the practices in place. It can also include commitments to treating those going through this with dignity and respect. Changes to the work environment, such as fans (COVID ventilation permitting), easy access to appropriate toilets, and a review of the uniform to assess if it is suitable can also be considered (Tesco have recently announced a uniform specifically for menopausal women, specially designed to accommodate their needs. Your client may not have the resources available like Tesco, but they might consider if relaxing uniform requirements would be a good idea).

The benefits of taking these steps are significant. Employees that are comfortable, and feel supported, are going to be more engaged, loyal and productive. They can also reduce absences and lengthy breaks off the shop floor.

The Women and Equalities Select Committee have launched an inquiry into the legal protection and workplace practices that are available to menopausal women. Eventually, this may lead to legislative changes to require employers to be more supportive. If your client gets ahead of this now, and implements menopause friendly practices and polices before they are required to, it will help them to stand out in the local community and attract and retain the best talent.

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