The so-called ‘Davina effect’ is likely to create increase demand for employee menopause support in the workplace, as research shows symptoms frequently affect work.
Awareness about the menopause and how its symptoms affect women in the workplace has risen following Davina McCalls documentary The Menopause Brain Drain. The programme highlights how declining hormone levels during the menopause years can be associated with sudden forgetfulness and a lack of concentration.
But despite more public discussion of the menopause, recent research from wellbeing platform Peppy found that more than three out of four women with menopause symptoms have not spoken about this at work.
Peppy’s research found that of employees experiencing menopause symptoms 80 per cent had sleep problems, 78 per cent had ‘brain fog’, 77 per cent had difficulty remembering things, 73 per cent had anxiety, and 67 per cent had difficulty focusing.
In total 88 per cent these employees said the perimenopause or menopause affected their ability to work, —with 69 per cent feeling less able to concentrate; 67 per cent feeling less confident in their ability, and 63 per cent feeling more stressed
Kathy Abernethy, director of menopause services at Peppy says: “Brain fog – and the forgetfulness, self-doubt and imposter syndrome that may come with it – is an issue that workplaces need to take seriously.
“Davina’s recent documentary will undoubtedly give some employees additional confidence about speaking to their employer about how this is impacting their working life.”
Of the employees who had spoken to their employer about their symptoms, 38 per cent asked for flexible working (or to work from home) and 36 per cent asked for support with emotional wellbeing. Although improved access to toilets/toilet breaks and a change to uniform or clothing were requested these were far outweighed by requests for support with the psychological and emotional symptoms.
Abernethy adds: “Company-wide training and education is a really important first step in supporting employees with the symptoms of menopause.
“If an employee wants to speak up or ask for help and their line manager’s only knowledge of menopause is hot flushes, it’s not going to be a productive conversation. Employers and managers need to be empowered with the knowledge to confidently have these discussions and crucially to also understand the pathway of support available.”
“Supporting menopausal employees must start with awareness – helping them and those around them understand why they are suffering from brain fog. The second step is support with how to manage the symptoms, and that requires practical guidance and expert support. Taking these steps will help employers reap the rewards of a happier, healthier and more diverse workforce.”