Employers Risk Losing Workers For Lack Of Menopause Accommodations

As a 44-year-old woman in perimenopause who works from home, I’m currently writing this article with my air conditioning cranked down to 68 degrees, my office ceiling fan on high, and a small fan under my desk pointed directly at me. I’m also wearing a t-shirt and shorts.

I am able to make my workspace feel like the arctic—and tolerate my constant hot flashes—because I work from home. Of course, this wouldn’t be possible if I worked in-person at an office.

Many women who’ve had the option of remote work these past couple of years have had the same revelation. And now that employers are starting to remove the remote work option post-pandemic, changing jobs is a decision facing many women at the height of their careers.

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According to a new survey, nearly half of female workers between the ages of 40 and 55 have considered ditching the office and looking for remote jobs so they can more easily deal with menopause symptoms.

Of the 1,000 women surveyed, 79% said working during menopause as challenging, even more than other common life stages, including starting a new job, starting a family, or getting a promotion. When asked what age decade is the most challenging for being in the workplace, respondents ranked their 50s as number one, well ahead of second-ranked 20s. 

Despite the fact that women make up half the workforce—and 20 percent of those women are between the ages of 45 and 54—most employers are risking the loss of high-level talent because they are not accommodating women experiencing menopause symptoms.

Home Is The Better Option

A new survey commissioned by fertility benefits company Carrot found that 47% of the 1,000 female respondents—who were either in perimenopause or menopause, or had been in the last five years—would consider looking for remote or hybrid work because of menopause symptoms.

What’s more, almost a third of the women surveyed said they would think about transitioning from full-time to part-time work because of menopause symptoms. And, 22% said they would consider retiring early.

Another study in the UK found 18% of women going through menopause are thinking about quitting their jobs altogether.

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These results aren’t just about the temperature of the office thermostat. Symptoms including sleep loss, mood swings, brain fog and more can also pose problems at work.

Patients are constantly sharing stories of their menopause symptoms impacting their relationships and careers because they’re exhausted, emotional, and responding to situations inappropriately, wrote Dr. Monica Christmas, director of the Center for Women’s Integrated Health at the University of Chicago Medicine in The New York Times.

Employer Perks And Benefits Rarely Consider Menopause

Last year, in a survey of 2,500 women from telehealth company Gennev, 99 percent of women in the menopause age group said that they don’t get any menopause benefits at work. The Carrot survey also found that nearly 25% of respondents had taken time off of work because of their menopause symptoms, but hid the reason from their employer.

These numbers make it clear that it would behoove employers to accommodate workers in this age group because it can be extremely expensive to replace them.

“A lot of the most skilled and most valuable women who are leaders are in this group and the replacement costs for those leaders is much higher than average,” Carrot CEO Tammy Sun told Bloomberg.

A Slow Change

With more mature female employees in the workforce than ever before, there are a handful of governments and companies that have started to realize this could be an issue for senior leaders. However, in the United States, there is very little discussion about menopausal women in the workplace.

British consultant Nicola Green—who advises employers on how to support their female workers going through menopause—names efforts as simple as providing free menstrual products in the bathroom and access to cold drinking water as ways to start accommodating menopause symptoms and retaining senior talent.

But ultimately, she says, giving a remote work option or flexible hours is the best way to support female workers in this season of life and keep them on staff.

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