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When Next wanted to expand their wellbeing programme, they decided to get the conversations started about menopause.

menopause, work, workplace, next, henpickedClaire Kershaw, Health and Wellbeing Manager at Next, explains how the retailer has moved swiftly from having little menopause support to providing a wide range of communications.

At Next, we’ve had a wellbeing programme in place for quite a few years. In fact, we were nominated for a REBA wellbeing award. At the celebration evening, it was evident that a few of the winners had already made significant inroads in some key aspects of wellbeing. One of which was menopause.

We knew we’d already done a lot of good things in terms of wellbeing. But menopause wasn’t really something we’d given too much focus. So we decided it needed to go onto our agenda.

We employ 43,000 people. 70% of these are women, 25% are over 45. That’s a large population of women of menopausal age – it was time to do something.

To launch our menopause campaign, we enlisted the help of Henpicked: Menopause in the Workplace. We wanted it to be part of our wellbeing strategy, with our own branded materials, and to reach out to employees and managers.

The first thing we did was hold a workshop for our HR team, to raise awareness about the subject. It was great. We all found out more about menopause, what it meant for some of our policies and what reasonable adjustments we could offer.

International Women’s Day

menopause, work, workplace, next, henpicked

We decided to use International Women’s Day as our platform to launch our new documents. We had created a supportive guide for anyone struggling with menopause, with information about how to speak to their manager and their GP, and helping them to understand symptoms. There was also a managers’ guide, to help line managers understand how to support team members.

We had a stand in one of our busy public areas at head office, with banners and bunting. But we weren’t really sure whether people would come and talk to us. We were wrong! Even as we were unpacking boxes people were flocking to the stand. For the whole two hours we had people talking to us, telling us their stories. We realised it was something that had been suppressed, which was now released.

Interestingly, a lot of people struggling wanted to educate their managers and were taking guides to pass on to them.

We’ve put our leaflets on our intranet, for all staff to access. We know staff have taken leaflets home to share with partners, friends and family, which is a great way to widen the messages and support.

And on International Women’s Day 2020, we hosted a panel about any issues which could affect women. Menopause was discussed at length, highlighting the importance of keeping up the conversations.

Life beyond menopause

We also set up an advocates group, which currently has around 15 members for all divisions of Next. We use the name of #ETC, which stands for ’embracing the change’. But also means etc – life goes on beyond menopause.

We’ve created a lot more material to use (including case studies), and started doing roadshows at the start of lockdown, which we’re hoping to restart when we get the chance. Our #ealth newsletter has menopause threaded throughout. This isn’t just a box-ticking exercise. We genuinely want to help people.

Our next chance to promote what we’re doing is World Menopause Day on 18 Oct, and we’re hosting a webinar on 13 Oct, inviting colleagues along to find out more about menopause.

Claire Kershaw is Health and Wellbeing Manager at Next

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