Twenty years ago, less than a third of people 55 and over were on the job scene. Flash forward two decades later, and that number is up to 40 percent. Employers are even recruiting workers over 50 because they are beginning to recognize the added benefit that employees with life experience can offer. Companies like the the National Institutes of Health, Harvard Business School and MetLife either have active recruitment programs or internship programs for older workers.
Menopause at Work
Women 50 and over, as well as younger women experiencing surgical menopause from hysterectomy, will most likely learn how to cope with menopause symptoms at work. Occupational health issues for older women are often ignored, including the issues that women face throughout menopause. Many women are able to get through menopause without problematic symptoms, but other women may be faced with significant symptoms of insomnia and sleep disturbance, fatigue, mood disorders, heat and cold intolerance, difficulty concentrating and poor memory that make getting through a day at work very difficult.
Menopause Symptoms at Work
The European Menopause and Andropause Society recently released a position statement recommending that employers make the following workplace accommodations for women undergoing menopause:
- Menopause awareness – Managers should be aware of the symptoms menopausal women experience so that they exhibit an understanding attitude.
- Allow disclosure – Menopausal women should be made to feel comfortable disclosing their condition to their coworkers and managers.
- Temperature control – Women should be in control of the temperature of their workspace, whether they can open a window or control the heat settings.
- Stress reduction – Reducing stressful working conditions like late nights and high pressure presentations.
- Allow flexible working arrangements like working from home.
- Allow access to toilets – Women going through menopause may experience heavy or unexpected bleeding and access to toilets may reduce some of the stress associated with heavy bleeding.
- Access to cold drinking water – The ability to drink cold water when needed may reduce some of the discomfort associated with hot flashes.
These recommendations have been applauded by some professionals and menopausal women. Still other women say that the recommendations are offensive because menopausal women can cope with menopause at work just as they have coped with other reproductive changes like menstruation and pregnancy throughout their lives. What do you think? Would these recommendations be welcome in your workplace or do you find them offensive?
Griffiths, A., Ceausu, I., Depypere, H., Lambrinoudaki, I., Mueck, A., Pérez-López, F. R., … & Stute, P. (2016). EMAS recommendations for conditions in the workplace for menopausal women. Maturitas, 85, 79-81.
Kadlec, D. (2015, March 2). The Suddenly Hot Job Market for Workers Over 50. Retrieved from http://time.com/money/3725034/jobs-older-workers-improved/