Over a quarter of employers (28%) say that the pandemic has made it harder to know which employees might need menopause support, according to research from Peppy, the digital health platform.
Twenty-one per cent of employers also stated that with increased numbers of staff still working from home and flexible working arrangements in place, they now have less ability to track when or why people are off work. In addition, 20% of employers feel they have less ability to promote the employee benefits that could help people deal with the symptoms of menopause.
Nearly a third (29%) of employers believe that longer NHS waiting times have negatively affected managing menopause issues in the workplace. Encouragingly, however, employers recognise they need to step up: with 59% of employers believing that the elongated waiting times for menopause support due to COVID-19 have exacerbated the need for employers to provide support.
Dr. Mridula Pore, CEO of Peppy said: “We know that there is real groundswell of support for menopause issues as many employees are making their voices heard on the matter. However, this increase in demand for menopause support services puts pressure on our already stretched NHS. Employers have a great opportunity to step in and provide that support by making it quick and easy to get help without the need to wait for a GP appointment or a referral to a menopause clinic.”
Features of menopause support
Peppy’s research also showed that employers understand that some employees will still be reluctant to open up about medical issues, and in particular menopause issues, in the workplace. Indeed, 43% agreed that the most important feature of employer-sponsored menopause support was confidentiality.
Dr. Mridula Pore continued: “It’s true to say that many women of menopausal age feel vulnerable to sexism and ageism in the workplace and have concerns about being overlooked for promotions and pay rises. It is therefore understandable why they may not wish to highlight menopausal symptoms and potentially bring in to question their productivity, efficiency or suitability for a role.”
Employers also stated that menopause support needed to be easy to use (31%) and easy to access (27%) and a quarter felt that a personalised or bespoke approach was an important feature. Interestingly, a quarter also felt that integration with NHS services was key so that employees could seamlessly navigate between the support offered by their employer and their local health services.
Dr. Mridula Pore said: “We know that workplace menopause support is becoming more commonplace and there are more options available to HR teams. Employers need to ensure they offer dedicated support from a menopause healthcare specialist if they truly want to help menopausal staff as the pandemic continues to be a feature of our daily lives.
“Once this support is in place, employers are able to evidence their caring and supportive workplace culture, as it demonstrates that they are ahead of the curve, and value their employees at what can be an extremely difficult period as they balance their health issues and their career.
“While working from home may have been a godsend for many menopausal staff, offering menopause support could now be crucial in helping employees make a positive return to the office, when we are advised to do so.”