'Women over 50 are the fastest growing segment of the workforce'
I recently read that ‘Women over the age of 50 are the fastest growing segment of the workforce, and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives’.
As a female HR professional approaching a certain age I think we are someway off being ready, willing and able to support ourselves and our workforce at this stage in their life.
Menopause will happen to half of the population at some stage and affect almost everyone by association, and whilst there’s a whisper on the topic and the volume is I agree rising.
Why is the menopause a workplace issue?
Statistics tell us that there are now around 4.4 million women aged 50–64 in work and most will go through the menopause transition during their working lives. So it makes sense that there will be very few workplaces where menopause is not an issue affecting female employees. The average age of the menopause is 51 and will typically last between 4 – 8 years. We know that there has been a steady increase in the employment rate of women over 50 in the UK and given our aging population this trend is likely to continue.
Supporting the continued employment of women in the perimenopausal and menopausal age bracket, for the benefit of those individuals and organisations, as well as the wider economy, should be a given right? Not something that people ignore, fear or refuse to accept as a real issue.
The quality of working life for women experiencing the menopause could be improved for millions now and in the future, and I know that I want to be a part of making this happen.
Because I’m female? Because I’m an HR professional? Because I know it’s coming and I’m being selfish? Maybe .. but mostly because it’s the right thing to do.
Mothers, daughters, sisters, wife’s and friends will all experience something different: imagine every day for potentially 7 years you have:
hot flushes; night sweats; dizziness; fatigue; memory loss; headaches; recurrent urinary tract infections; joint stiffness, aches and pains; and heavy periods.
As if the physical impact wasn’t enough to deal with, our mental wellbeing is also significantly tested with:
mood swings; anxiety; depression; confusion; forgetfulness; volatile emotions; erratic fear; reduced concentration; fear of failure and HRT driven hormone changes.
For some, such as those who have had a hysterectomy these will all happen overnight – waking up a totally different person, absent the things that you felt potentially made you a women! This frightens me and many other women I’m sure.
Each of these symptoms will obviously affect our personalities, our comfort and our performance at work. Surely we all have a duty is to provide a safe working environment for all employees and therefore we should all commit to ensuring that we make the right adjustments and provide the additional support available to those experiencing menopausal symptoms. Not because we have to but because we want to.
There is an increasing amount of intimate and candid literature, honest and humour podcasts and even TV documentaries that hope to educate, explain and portray menopause in its entirety. Taking the time to gain this knowledge and develop a greater sense of empathy and understanding should be on all of our agendas.
LanesHR recognise the need and understand the importance so have created support guides, policies and useful hints, tips and resources that have helped many of our clients. The combination of our personal experiences, professional knowledge and pure emotion for the topic helps us communicate in a way that easily understood and translatable to all environments.
I will continue to read, watch, discuss but most importantly observe and listen – will you?