Women need more support in the workplace when they are going through the menopause, a new study suggests.
Australian researchers looked at the health and wellbeing of almost 850 working women between the ages of 45 and 75, with a particular focus on issues surrounding the menopause. The average age of the participants was 51.
The study found that while the menopause did not affect work outcomes, it did have the potential to influence how the women regarded work. For example, if women suffered with menopause-related anxiety, they tended to have less job satisfaction. They were also less organised and engaged at work.
Overall, two in three women experiencing the menopause reported problematic symptoms, such as anxiety, disturbed sleep, fatigue and hot flushes.
Furthermore, while eight in 10 women said that they felt valued in the workplace, just 1% said that their workplace had managers who were trained in the awareness of menopause at work.
"What is really important is not the fact of going through the menopause in itself, but the frequency and severity of symptoms which women experience, and how these factors affect their work. Having undertaken this research, we have come to the conclusion that information and support relating to menopause at work should ideally be part of a broader line management training programme about health and wellbeing in later life," commented lead researcher, Prof Gavin Jack, of La Troube University.
He insisted that not enough attention is paid to different life stages in the workplace. For example, younger women are given maternity leave options to help them deal with the birth of their child, ‘but no provision is made to cope with the problems experienced by women going through symptoms experienced during and after the menopause, or other lifestyle episodes that occur later in life surrounding health, wellbeing and caring responsibilities'.
"This is short-sighted and it means that an organisation doesn't get the best out of their workers, but it also means that other workers may have to pick up on problems. In any other area of working life, if you know that there is a potential problem, you plan for it,' Prof Jack pointed out.
He said that too few employers are paying attention to the individual needs of their workers.
"A little support and forethought from employers could save everyone a lot of stress. Employers should recognise that this is a problem time for many women, and as it can go on for several years, the implications are as great potentially as being pregnant," he added.
Details of these findings were presented at the World Congress on the Menopause in Mexico.