Video: Professor Jo Brewis – How to support employees going through the menopause transition and why we need to talk about it


In July 2017, my colleagues Dr. Vanessa Beck, Dr. Andrea Davies, Dr. Jesse Matheson and I published a government-commissioned report which reviews the evidence for how menopause affects women’s economic participation. In the video above, I discuss why employers and line managers need to understand menopause better so they can support mid-life women who are experiencing symptoms which cause difficulties for them at work.

Our report establishes that menopause tends not to be acknowledged in workplace cultures, policies or training, and suggests mid-life women experiencing symptoms related to the menopause transition can feel unsupported as a result. It also discusses how challenging women can find it to raise any menopausal symptoms with those around them at work.

There are three very good reasons why menopause needs to be understood better in organizations. In the above video I’ve discussed the business case for menopause friendly working policies to support women experiencing symptoms related to the menopause transition. A recent study by Oxford Economics (The Cost of Brain Drain, February 2014) suggests – amongst other things – that replacing a talented employee can cost in excess of £39 000.

Employers also need to be aware of the legal imperative, with the first successful employment tribunal having taken place in 2012 under the Equality Act. And finally there is the social responsibility case, which rests on creating the right workplace conditions for mid-life women to continue to work as long as they want to.

Employers should offer a cafeteria of solutions for women to access during this stage in their working lives, because every person’s experience of menopause is unique (including experiencing no symptoms at all). These solutions can be as cheap and easy as providing USB desk fans. It is also worth noting that all workers in this country have the legal right to make flexible working requests following 26 weeks of service with the same employer, and that flexible work can make a big difference in managing menopause symptoms.

Menopause is normal, natural and a universal experience for women, as well as others who identify as gender non-binary, gender non-conforming or transgender men. Supportive, open and compassionate workplace cultures will mean that all of these employees can access the solutions which work for them during this stage of their lives.

Find out more about Staying On – The Age of Success toolkit here