Menopause and lockdown
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. You might ask what that’s got to do with menopause, particularly if you’re not aware of its range of symptoms.
Or for that matter, the impact of the current Covid-19 lockdown on menopause.
So here’s why this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week and the importance of menopause on work are potentially more important than ever.
Firstly a bit on the current situation
We’re just about to embark on our 9th week of lockdown. During March we were scheduled to run over 50 menopause training sessions, half of which we did at organisations’ workplaces and the rest we postponed.
None of us really had any idea how long this was going to go on. Every organisation we’re working with (us too) took time to change our regular days to almost entirely online. It went very quiet – except for Covid-19 updates.
Having made such progress in getting menopause conversations going at workplaces UK-wide, we ran one of our ‘Menopause in the Workplace’ webinars on 2 April. It filled fast with a waiting list so we ran another, which did the same. Then we followed up with an online masterclass. Plus the ‘Lunch & learn’ menopause sessions.
Why is this relevant? We wanted to understand the appetite for talking about menopause at work during lockdown. We’ve been bowled over by the passion from so many to keep it going. Not let it slip off agendas.
Our polls during the webinars show how many are using this ‘pause’ to develop or escalate their menopause campaigns. All very good news!
Why it’s even more urgent and important now
We’ve documented the compelling reasons why forward-thinking organisations are getting everyone talking about menopause, putting the right awareness, training and support in place. What we’ve been able to understand is what’s actually different at this point – during lockdown. Here’s what we found.
Does lockdown affect menopausal symptoms?
What we want everyone to consider is the impact of lockdown on menopausal symptoms.
Having run so many online menopause training webinars for colleagues during lockdown, it’s clear that some symptoms are easier to manage while working at home. Women said it’s easier to manage hot flushes when you can decide to open the window, change your clothes or have a shower. There’s no-one else to consider, no colleagues or line manager to ask first.
Sleep, insomnia or fatigue can be better or worse, it appears. Improved for those who can vary when they do their work, worse for those who aren’t adapting well to the changes.
What’s harder is the impact on the psychological symptoms – mental health. When we ran the survey in 2018 with various universities, women said it was psychological symptoms that affected them most at work. Understandable when you consider menopausal symptoms include anxiety and worry, reduced ability to focus or concentrate, loss of confidence.
Thinking about mental health, how many of your menopausal employees are:
- Living alone with little social contact or don’t have any support at home?
- Worrying how they’re handling work in the new way or working?
- Worrying what will happen to their job afterwards?
- Not working from home but are busier than they were before?
- Not having regular contact with their line manager?
Add the stress of announcements about job losses, businesses struggling or going under can create uncertainty in any of us, let alone those who are already struggling with their mental health.
Leadership challenges during lockdown
For so many, it’s a completely new way of working – it can be a very new challenge for leaders too, particularly those who’ve not managed remotely before. It’s not always easy to spot how a team member is. You may have a quick call or Zoom team meeting but it’s not the same as seeing someone in the workplace.
Ask many people ‘how are you’, and we’ll respond with an often automatic ‘I’m alright thanks’. It’s not just for menopause of course, but more generally. We had a discussion this week about asking a different question, how to really understand how things are for your team member. ‘What’s been better for you working from home’, ‘is there anything that’s more challenging that I can help with?’.
One employer talked about the importance of having videos switched on to look for non-verbal signals and understanding.
The benefits of menopause training online
We love running face-to-face sessions and online sessions do have the same engagement levels. Here’s what we’ve experienced this month:
- We ran training for an employer we’d run sessions for in their workplace. The online session had even bigger attendance. Was this because people can join without anyone knowing they were going to a menopause session? Particularly attractive for those who may feel embarrassed or still feel it’s taboo?
- The engagement rates were excellent. It’s the same content but designed for webinar so plenty of opportunity for people to get involved, have their say, test their knowledge and get answers. Whether they choose to be anonymous or not. The added bonus of the webinars we run is that you can have your questions answered all the way through the session. We monitor how many people come on the sessions, stay on them, and even stay focused on the session.
- None of us know how long we’ll be working like this and wellbeing is always very important. All the postponed sessions, and so many more, have chosen not to wait. Menopausal women are still the fastest growing demographic at work – whether they’re working from home or in the workplace.
- Employers can even provide training for those who are furloughed. Some employees said that they had more time to commit to training, others saying that they were focusing on menopause to demonstrate that looking after their employees is a priority for them.
- Menopause training is good for employers and employees, whether they’re in the office, or at home. The benefits extend beyond the workplace, it’s a lifeskill too. Plus, your employees will received CPD Accreditation too. All our training sessions, whether online/digital or in workplaces will contribute professional development points.
Is your organisation menopause friendly?
- What is your organisation doing to support colleagues through menopause?
- How much do your line managers know and what do they do?
Now is the time for taking action. Will you be using this time to get the conversation about menopause started or accelerate your existing plans?
Download our FREE checklist today!