Are the women in your workplace suffering in silence? Those in their 40s and beyond may be going through a transitional life change, also known as peri menopause. Interestingly, workplaces are becoming more open and inclusive, yet women experiencing menopausal symptoms are still feeling unsupported and surrounded by stigma and judgement.

We are passionate advocates for workplace wellbeing and women’s health. Our aim is to support women to understand this powerful and empowering life phase they are experiencing. Equally, we are passionate about workplaces recognising the signs and supporting women so they can thrive, both in their personal and professional lives.

The first step is to have a courageous conversation

Two million women in Australia have recently gone through menopause, and 80,000 women move into the postmenopausal stage every year – according to research by Australasian Menopause Society (AMS) and AIA Australia.[1] As a society we are seeing too many women leave the workforce because they feel unsupported and misunderstood during this life phase.

The first step to overcoming the challenges and losing valued women from the workforce is to foster an environment that supports courageous, humanised conversations. What does that even look like…?

For women . . .

It’s about creating a psychologically safe culture where women feel safe to open up about their experience.

We appreciate that talking openly about Peri Menopause can be incredibly difficult mainly due to the stigma and negativity associated with this life phase. We live in a society where ageism is rife and unfortunately Peri Menopause is always associated with being an older woman. But, as you may be aware Peri Menopause can begin from our early 40s, even mid to late 30s. 

The key step to having that courageous conversation in the workplace, is to first have that conversation with yourself. This phase of life brings with it a need to accept and be aware first and foremost of what you are experiencing and why you are going through it. It’s only through your own education can you then truly appreciate the very natural nature of this phase and understand what support you need. 

The reality is, for many women the symptoms of peri menopause can cause havoc with their moods… your sleep may be affected which impacts cognition or you may be enveloped by elusive brain fog. Or perhaps your severe hot flushes make you feel uncomfortable, or your crippling anxiety makes it difficult to come to work and perform at your usual best. 

Whatever your symptoms are, we encourage you to find that bravery within and start that courageous conversation. Your manager is unlikely to know what’s going on in your personal life unless you share it with them. If they have begun noticing any changes to your work, they may be wondering the cause.

How to prepare for a courageous conversation

Before you go into the meeting, consider your intention and the outcome you would like to achieve from this conversation. Is it more support, understanding, a change to your workload in the short/long term? How can your workplace support you at this time?

When working with women and leaders we often encourage them individually to reflect on how they want to feel at work and why this is important to them? 

Empathy from both sides is also critically important. You, as the woman, may feel uncomfortable about having this conversation but your leader will likely also have a level of uncomfortableness in this topic being brought up, particularly if it’s completely new to them. Being mindful and empathetic will go a long way to having a meaningful conversation.

You could also recommend one of our Workplace Workshops to support women just like you in the workplace. Our workshops help educate women on what to expect during peri menopause, the symptoms, the logical explanation behind it and strategies on how to thrive during this phase. In most instances, your workplace will be accommodating and find a way to work with you during this life transition to show their support and keep you in a job you love.

From a personal perspective you may also like to learn more about Women’s Lifestyle Support. This is an online support platform we have created. It’s been created by women, for women. A place you can come to for education, connection and support and best of all it’s only $3 for three months.

This platform is your go to resource for:

  • Answers to your important healthy lifestyle questions
  • Helping you take charge of your health
  • Making a positive impact on your life

You can also access our Menopause Blog and Menopause Podcasts, all of which include lots of great information, insights, practical strategies and wellbeing.

For workplaces . . .

It’s about being an enabler of positive health and wellbeing for your people across all life phases.

Is your workplace addressing the “real” needs of your people? Wellbeing is a term that is being used more and more in the workplace and of course, rightly so.  It presents an opportunity to address the innate needs of all employees as they navigate different phases of life. Wellbeing can be defined as “functioning well and feeling good” and as a workplace, it’s important to consider what this looks and feels like for each employee at each phase of life. 

Here’s an example. A menopausal employee, a returning to work mother or a man reaching middle age all have specific health and wellbeing needs. Their own desire for wellbeing will be completely different and as a workplace it’s imperative that the initiatives offered are supporting the real needs of your people.

Education goes a long way to bringing awareness and acceptance to life phases such as Peri Menopause. You’ll know that it impacts all women and those who identify as women in the workforce. If you consider how many women are employed in your organization, it’s likely that 50% of your workforce may be affected. Rather than seeing it as a barrier, look at it as an opportunity to broaden your diversity and inclusion and gender equality initiatives across your business.

Own Your Health Collective offers a range of workplace Wellbeing Workshops and seminars that can be tailored to your workplace and employee needs.

Some of the benefits of supporting women in your workforce include:

  • Retaining experienced women
  • Supporting women’s careers and continued growth
  • Mental health
  • Diversity & Inclusion
  • Gender & Equality

Our Signature Workshops tailored specifically to Menopause in the Workplace include: 

  • Leading into Menopause at Work
  • Thriving Through Menopause at Work
  • Normalising Women’s Health at Work
  • Creating Menstrual and Menopause Friendly Workplaces.

Considering there will be there will be over 1 billion women experiencing menopause in the world by 2025, which will be 12% of the entire world population of 8 billion in 2025, can your organisation continue to ignore menopause?

Start the conversation today

Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you support the women in your workplace and workplace wellbeing for all employees. 

[1] Insurance Business Magazine, “AIA Australia teams up with Australasian Menopause Society,” accessed 21 Novemberhttps://www.insurancebusinessmag.com/au/news/breaking-news/aia-australia-teams-up-with-australasian-menopause-society-324945.aspx

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