Menopause remains a taboo subject in the workplace, with new research revealing many Australian women who experience menopause feel unsupported by their employers and consider leaving the workplace.
83 per cent of respondents to a recent survey who had experienced menopause said it negatively affected their work life, while nearly one in two said they considered retiring or taking a break from work because of it.
The research was conducted by employee experience platform Circle In, with the backing of the Victoria Women’s Trust, and it surveyed 714 people about their experience of menopause at work.
More than half said menopause caused their overall confidence down at work, while 73 per cent said it heightened their stress and anxiety levels.
Shockingly, only 3 per cent of respondents said they had received “excellent” support from their workplace, while 60 per cent said support at work was “poor” or “below average”.
Co-founder of Circle In Jodi Geddes said organisations need to step up support for the significant cohort of workers in Australia who are experiencing menopause.
“Menopause can start as early as 45 and finish after 60 for some women, meaning a substantial proportion of the workforce is experiencing menopause at work,” Geddes said.
“The survey results and stories of women enduring physical and emotional suffering alone at work were shocking – imagine if we ignored pregnant women in the same way.
“Employees need to build a work culture that recognises and provides support to those experiencing menopause, to help break down the taboo of menopause in the workplace.”
Most of the women who responded to the survey – 70 per cent – said they would not feel comfortable talking to their manager about the challenges menopause presents, or the extra support they might need.
Meanwhile, 52 per cent said their manager’s awareness of their experience of menopause would have been a good source of support to them. And three quarters said they would have liked access to information or a support network at work to aid them during menopause.
Executive director of the Victorian Women’s Trust, Mary Crooks AO, said the research provides an opportunity to lift the taboo on experiencing menopause in workplaces.
“Circle In’s survey research on menopause and workplaces confirms this as a special moment in time, where we lift the lid on menstruation generally, including menopause, and change our private and public worlds for the better,” she said.
Circle In has provided a number of recommendations to employers in light of the research, including raising awareness of menopause, training for managers and creating a framework of more flexible working options.