Home Health & Wellness Two-Fifths of Women Don’t Feel Supported Through Menopause at Work: How Businesses Can Do More

Two-Fifths of Women Don’t Feel Supported Through Menopause at Work: How Businesses Can Do More

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Almost three-quarters (73%) of women feel unsupported while experiencing menopause at work, according to a new survey by the Well-Being of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge signatory and music licensing company, PPL PRS.

The NHS estimates around 13 million people are currently peri- or menopausal in the UK. With the government rejecting the menopause leave proposal in January, many businesses have taken up the mantle to support their employees who may be peri or menopausal. PPL PRS recently joined the more than 2,000 companies that have signed the Well-Being of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge and today launched its PPL PRS’ guide to menopause to share knowledge about menopause symptoms, and the benefits of music in symptomatic relief.

Commissioned to understand what is being done in workplaces across the UK to help menopausal employees, PPL PRS found that over 90% of the women surveyed had experienced at least one physical or mental symptom, with the top five common symptoms women experience when going through menopause identified as:

  • Disrupted sleep: 73%
  • Hot flushes and dizziness: 70%
  • Memory issues: 61%
  • Muscle or joint pain: 60%
  • Low mood: 59%

These symptoms can severely affect women’s performance in a working environment, with hot flushes in particular reported to reduce productivity by 60% for some individuals compared to non-menopausal people. While some of these can be symptoms that are taken seriously by employers when resulting from other health conditions, such as low mood from depression, the survey results show that understanding and support are minimal when it comes to symptoms of menopause.

PPL PRS’ survey revealed nearly a third (28%) of women surveyed said their employer did not offer anything in support, and a YouGov poll shared that almost three-quarters (72%) of companies do not have a menopause policy in place. For the 26% of women that said they felt supported by employers, the survey highlighted that this mainly consisted of flexible working and regular breaks for women suffering. Other options their employers offered include:

  • Flexible working (28%)
  • Regular breaks (28%)
  • Time off (14%)
  • Support groups (10%)
  • Signed the Well-Being of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge (10%)
  • Mental health champions (8%)
  • Counselling (8%)
  • More time to prepare before meetings (8%)
  • And care packages (4%)

With 20% of their female workforce over the age of 45, PPL PRS recognises the importance of understanding menopause and providing support for those who need it. In signing the Well-Being of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge, the company wants to make their workplace an inclusive space where everyone in the office understands and knows how to offer support to those experiencing it. PPL PRS’ guide to menopause, backed by neuroscientist Dr Julia Jones (aka Dr Rock) and music therapist Marianne Rizkallah, outlines the impact of symptoms on women and how music can support menopause relief.

On the topic, managing director for PPL PRS, Andrea Gray, said: “PPL PRS is a business that prides itself on being diverse and inclusive, and we became aware that a number of our employees may have been experiencing menopausal symptoms without the necessary support in place. We listened to them, and we worked together to understand what they needed and how we could implement that.

Around 18% of peri-menopausal or menopausal-aged UK women who are currently employed are considering leaving their roles due to a lack of support from their employer, and we did not want to be a part of that statistic.

By signing the Well-Being of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge, we are showing our commitment to ensuring that anyone who is experiencing symptoms of menopause will be supported and cared for within the workplace here at PPL PRS. The Pledge gave us access to a wealth of information, support groups, webinars, and education, which we could share with our colleagues to help them access the care they need.

Having that first open conversation is all that is needed to show your employees that you are listening and willing to understand.”

PPL PRS neuroscientist and smart wellness coach, Dr Julia Jones, aka Dr Rock, adds some often-forgotten facts about breathing and music: “Because of the way the autonomic nervous system is wired, our breath acts as a powerful brake on the anxiety response. We have the ability to step in and intervene by simply breathing in time with calming, slow tempo music. This is known to help reduce feelings of stress during the day and help direct us into deep delta wave sleep at night. Extending our exhales amplifies this effect even further. It’s a simple tactic that can be used at home, during commutes, or in the workplace.”

Music therapist for PPL PRS, Marianne Rizkallah, shares the lesser-known connection between music and menopause: “Although there has been some information around music helping ease the symptoms of menopause, music can help your employees in and out of the office. For example, if an employee is suffering from disrupted sleep, listening to calming music with a steady tempo and consistent timbre before bed may aid in helping them sleep and gain the rest they need to work at capacity the next day. Music can also help you relax, so playing chill-out music within the office, especially using pieces that people in the office know and love, may create the right atmosphere for relaxed working and give employees the space to think as the music plays in the background.”

PPL PRS’s menopause support began with monthly drop-in sessions where staff could meet and talk about their symptoms and experiences and share tips on how they were handling their symptoms. Now they also have the “workplace menopause policy”, which makes sure anyone experiencing menopause symptoms is treated fairly and with respect, while also offering:

  • Flexible working
  • Adjusted working conditions
  • Menopause-related sickness policy, including time for medical appointments
  • Care packages include new underwear, replacement clothing in a range of sizes, freshening wipes and sanitary products

They have also introduced an online menopause and period hub where their employees can access a frequently updated wealth of support and information.

Allowing female employees a space to feel comfortable in their experiences in later life should be a priority for more businesses to implement internally, especially with the lack of government support for such a large section of the UK workforce. Joining PPL PRS and 2000 other companies in pledging the well-being of women is just the start of becoming a more employee-focused business.

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