A North East water company is raising awareness of menopause in the workplace.
Northumbrian Water has been hosting education sessions among its employees and people managers, to highlight the impact the menopause can have on working women.
This shift in the balance of hormones is a natural transition in a woman’s life, but it can bring with it a wide range of physical and psychological symptoms, including hot flushes, night sweats, anxiety and depression.
While the average age for the menopause is 51, symptoms can occur much earlier than that with menopausal women the fastest growing population at work.
There are currently 4.3 million employed women aged 45-60 in the UK, and in Northumbrian Water, where 33% of the workforce are female, 45% of these are over 45 years of age.
The awareness training, delivered by Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace, discussed with water workers the nature of menopause symptoms, the potential impact on work, and the help available to them.
It’s an idea which came out of the water company’s Innovation Festival last year, to help both male and female employees feel educated and confident enough to talk openly and ask for support for themselves and their colleagues.
Northumbrian Water’s Employee Engagement Manager, Alison Corner, said: “We first started the conversation about menopause education at last year’s Innovation Festival, when we were discussing how we could make a positive impact on improving the health and wellbeing of our people.
“I’m delighted that it’s something we’ve been able to progress, and are beginning awareness raising sessions, both face to face and through online webinars, toolkits and manager guidance.
“We want to make sure that our female colleagues feel educated and supported, and that our male employees have the ability to access information to support their colleagues and partners at home. We also want our people managers to feel they can support their team members who may be experiencing menopausal symptoms.”
Director of Henpicked, Deborah Garlick, said: “We hear experiences from women every day who want to be at their best at work but menopause symptoms get in the way. They need help and support, and employers can make a big difference.
“What Northumbrian Water is doing is inspirational and we really enjoyed the training sessions with them. Other organisations would do well to follow their example.
“This is not a women’s issue, everyone needs to be able to talk about menopause and women need to feel comfortable asking for help, if they need it. The easier and more normal we make it to talk about menopause, the better it is for everyone.”