It’s a company's obligation to provide a workplace that is suitable for ALL employees, and it’s always a good idea to predict possible challenges that you or your employees might be facing so that you can address them - as they are often unseen or unspoken.
During World Menopause Month in October, we explored the idea that society has shifted to having more women in the workforce, and that this coupled with an increase in the working-age has resulted in more and more women experiencing their menopausal years at work.
There is some great information in our previous article about menopause and the negative effect it has on the work life of women who are experiencing it, you can read that article here: “How can air conditioning support menopausal women?”
One of the biggest challenges facing women experiencing menopause is the lack of awareness in the workplace, coupled with the fact that many women feel uncomfortable discussing the issues it creates for them in the workplace or may not want to ask for help in managing their work environment to be more menopause-friendly.
By realising the scope that menopause has in the workplace, as well as how it can be negatively affecting your bottom line, you could proactively implement solutions that will increase the quality of work-life for your employees and thus making your business function at a higher level.
Once you’ve understood the challenge that menopause creates, we have some great recommendations of solutions you can implement in any workplace!
Employees will really appreciate not having to suffer in silence
Menopause: A Recap
The NHS reports that most women experience menopause between 45 and 55 years of age, for an average of 4 years (although it can last up to 12, and 1 in 100 women experience it before they are 40 years old). There are also other kinds of menopause, such as perimenopause or pre-menopause, which can affect women from the age of 30.
It is estimated that there are around 13 million women who are currently peri-menopausal or menopausal in the UK, and almost 8 out of 10 of menopausal women are in work.
So that means that there are about 10.4 million women, in the UK alone, experiencing menopause at work.
This reinforces that menopause is not a niche issue - but something that is affecting a massive number of workers.
The discomfort impact on work
As we already know, the most common symptoms by far of menopause are hot flashes and sweats.
They affect three out of four menopausal women, and in some cases, women have reported experiencing hot flashes every ten minutes throughout the day. Menopausal women also experience sleep disturbances, fatigue, anxiety, irritability and lack of concentration.
Many menopause symptoms feed into each other which rapidly decreases the quality of work life of the women experiencing them, all because their comfort levels are decreased. By addressing even one symptom, you can often lessen the effects of the others and greatly improve the comfort levels and quality of daily life for women who are experiencing them.
It’s obvious that many of these challenges would have a negative impact on the quality of life for the individual, as well as on the workplace with decreased levels of productivity and worker morale.
3 out of 5 women aged 45-55 feel their menopause symptoms have a negative impact on them at work. For businesses, this is really bad news.
Not only is it leading to a greater dissatisfaction at work, but it also results in higher sick leave, with 30% of women admitting they have taken sick leave due to their symptoms. In order to address this issue within the workplace, and stop its flow-on effects for the business, organisations must become more proactive in creating solutions to address these challenges faced by their staff.
A Workplace Solution
There are many ways to try and minimise the symptoms of menopause. These will vary depending on the person and what they feel will help them the most, and from a medical standpoint can include a wide range of treatments from hormone replacement therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy and improvements diet and exercise regimes.
It’s best to leave these kinds of decisions to the individual and their medical team, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more than can be done to help improve the comfort levels of women in the workplace who may be experiencing symptoms.
All companies have an obligation to provide a suitable workspace for their employees, and seeing as menopause affects such a large proportion of the workforce it is one that could greatly improve worker’s comfort.
Not only that, but there are also some legal considerations to making your workplace more menopause friendly and reduce the risk of sex discrimination, disability discrimination and age discrimination.
Not a joke
Hot flashes might be one of the most well-known symptoms of menopause in society, but it is still one that often goes unaddressed by employers, often being something people joke about but never offer a solution to.
It is also the main symptom that feeds into and creates other symptoms such as irritability, fatigue and lack of concentration. Luckily, hot flashes are also one of the easiest symptoms to address.
If businesses are open to implementing the solutions to this issue, they will find that the flow-on effects for the business are dramatically improved - higher productivity, better morale and less sick days taken by staff.
Simply adjusting the climate of your workspace can have a massive effect. Installing climate control systems can allow you and your employees to control the temperature and give everyone the ability to make adjustments to minimise hot flashes and their effects.
Air Conditioning solutions that you can implement include:
- M Series air conditioners which are designed for small to medium sized spaces such as retail units or small offices and are floor or wall mounted
- Mr Slim range of split system air conditioners are best-sellers in the UK for retail and small office spaces
- Multi Split systems can connect up to 11 indoor units to an outdoor unit - creating great flexibility for your building layout
- City Multi VRF units are perfect for medium to large buildings and produce high performance and efficiency
- City Multi HVRF units are suitable for almost any building from small to large, and are a hybrid of VRF and Chiller systems
If air conditioning just isn’t possible for your workplace right now, other solutions include simply ventilating the space to create greater airflow.
You could consider opening some windows, or if that isn’t enough (or there aren’t any suitable windows to open!) you could consider solutions such as ventilation units which can be adapted for any type of building.
Ventilation units are also ideal for cities with poor air quality, as opening windows will let in harmful pollutants which can have a further affect on occupant’s health - so ventilation units are a great solution.
We recommend our Lossnay ventilation units, which includes a whole series of units that can be used in a wide range of commercial spaces. They provide fresh air whilst removing stale air - creating better air quality for your workers and providing a better work environment.
Solutions for menopause can benefit everyone
Air conditioning and ventilation can create an optimal working environment for all employees, not only menopausal women. Not only will this help ease the symptoms of menopausal women, but other workers may also find themselves feeling more comfortable and less prone to similar symptoms that can simply be caused by being too hot.
Air conditioning can also cool or heat, meaning it is perfect for all-round use, solving many issues faced in the winter as well as the summer. Ventilation systems are also a great solution which removes stale air and injects fresh air, massively increasing productivity and increasing brain function. Air quality is actually a huge issue, with research suggesting that indoor air quality has a massive impact on productivity.
Studies by Harvard and Syracuse Universities show a productivity increase of 60-100% in indoor areas with greater ventilation than those with poor or no ventilation.
With the benefit of helping menopausal women increase their quality of life, as well as improving the quality of your workplace for all employees, there really is no reason not to implement measures such as climate control in your workplace. Being proactive about solutions to these challenges can make a huge difference, and employees will appreciate not having to ask for their needs to be considered or suffering in silence.
You can read more about menopause and how it affects workplaces by reading our previous article, “How can air conditioning support menopausal women?”
Rachel Lekman is Channel Marketing Manager