Diversity & Inclusion, Recruiting

Menopause as a Source of Premature Workplace Attrition

In a challenging labor market, retaining skilled employees is paramount for businesses aiming to maintain competitiveness and operational continuity. Employee turnover not only disrupts workflow but also incurs significant costs related to recruitment, training, and lost productivity. As such, understanding the diverse reasons behind employee departures is essential for developing effective retention strategies.

While many employers might recognize cultural fit, relatable mentors and role models, and other factors as playing a role in retention, few think of menopause.

The Impact of Menopause on Workforce Participation

One often overlooked factor contributing to workforce attrition, particularly among women, is menopause. This natural biological process can bring about symptoms that significantly affect work performance and well-being.

“The topic of the menopause is becoming less taboo in some countries, as grassroots campaigns like Menopause Mandate and Let’s Talk Menopause help break down stigma and build awareness,” writes Megan Tatum in a recent BBC Worklife article. “Yet its professional impact on women (and anyone who experiences the menopause) remains largely unaddressed, say experts. In a late 2023 survey, UK workplace-healthcare provider SimplyHealth surveyed more than 2,000 working women aged 40 to 60. Twenty-three percent considered resigning due to the impact of the menopause, and 14% are said they are planning to hand in their notice. Although the survey’s sample size is small relative to the seven-million women in the UK workforce in that age bracket, it does support anecdotal evidence from women speaking out publicly about their experiences as a menopausal worker. And if the issue remains unaddressed, it could impact millions of workers who take the same decision to leave. Plus, even for workers who don’t leave, the financial toll of sick days, unpaid leave and missed opportunities due to menopause adds up to an astronomical cost. Researchers from the Mayo Clinic estimate women’s losses at $1.8bn (£1.43) per year in the US alone.”

The Role of Inclusive Workplace Policies

The fact that so many women leave their jobs because of menopause’s impact on their work life underscores the importance of inclusive workplace policies in achieving real business goals like employee retention. Companies that acknowledge and adapt to the unique needs of their workforce, including those going through menopause, not only foster a supportive work environment but also enhance their overall productivity and retention rates. Inclusive policies could include flexible working hours, access to medical support, and providing education about menopause for all employees to foster understanding and support within the workplace.

As businesses continue to face retention challenges, integrating such policies is a matter of social responsibility, as well as a strategic imperative. By addressing the specific needs of menopausal employees, companies can mitigate the impact of this life transition on their workforce and support their employees effectively, retaining valuable talent and expertise in the process.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.

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