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5 scaled ways employers can address the costly impacts of menopause at work

How companies can address menopause as a medical issue
5 scaled ways employers can address the costly impacts of menopause at work
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Dr. Leslie Saltzman is a practicing, board-certified physician with more than 15 years experience in clinical and business technology settings. She is the chief medical officer at Ovia Health.

Menopause is an invisible issue in most modern workplaces, marked by stigma and discomfort. And while menopause leaves are starting to gain traction internationally, the support women receive in the workplace in the U.S. is comparatively barebones.

The stigma around menopause is compounded by ageism and the cultural implications of being perceived as less capable at work. Not even a diagnosable condition until 1920, menopause was considered women’s hysteria and carries with it a societal correlation with mood swings and overplayed symptoms, potentially indicating that people experiencing it aren’t capable of making sound decisions. It’s no surprise that 1 in 3 women report actively hiding symptoms (pdf) of menopause from colleagues and leaders.

The lack of conversation and support around menopause directly impacts employees and companies. According to one recent study, 4 in 10 women experiencing menopause said it interfered with their work productivity or performance at least weekly, and almost 20% of women experiencing it have left or are considering leaving their positions because of it.

5 options to help employers support women in menopause

1. Build company-wide menstruation and menopause leave policies: As the U.S. works to catch up with its international counterparts in progressive menopause support, employers can take responsibility for leading the way. Build a policy—with input from employees—and codify it.

2. Recognize menstruation and menopause as medical issues via health awareness initiatives: Workplace health initiatives foster employee health, safety, and well-being, but women’s health is often overlooked. Design health awareness initiatives inclusive of menstrual health and menopause and provide credible sources of information like digital health tools or free webinars with health professionals.

3. Cultivate cultures where people can comfortably engage in discussions about menstrual health and menopause: This starts with leading from the front. Female leaders shouldn’t shy away from taking medical leave and taking advantage of other benefits available. Leaders, meanwhile, should be trained on possible symptoms and how to best support employees.

4. Provide employees with a full range of free sanitary products in workplace restrooms.

5. Tap into digital solutions that allow employees to manage, track, and understand their health and know when to seek medical help: Leaders should adopt digital health tools that can be offered through benefits packages to help employees access educational materials and track their own health.