05 Jul 2023

The reality of Menopause in the workplace

As I stood in front of a team, about to launch into a full morning of training, I felt the strong emotion of fear!  Not the recommended mind frame for a trainer holding the responsibility for others learning!  Why?  Because I was experiencing overwhelming fatigue and I had intense brain fog which can affect many people going through the gamut of Menopause.  Remembering what I was saying, why I was saying it, who asked the question, what the question actually was, AND the challenge of recalling any knowledge and experience I had – which seemed to have vanished into the deep recesses of goodness knows where – along with normal everyday words! 

Not only that, but there were also the hot flashes that would suddenly happen leaving me bright red in the face and experiencing all the things that happen when a person is hot!  Along with the fear, I would be feeling helplessness, embarrassment, and humiliation.  Can you imagine, for a moment, how you would feel if this happened to you?  Your reputation, credibility, and professionalism all on the line and you have no control.  Thankfully there are a number of different support strategies and medical interventions, depending on your preferences, that can help!

Up until recently as a society we have not been openly speaking about Menopause.  Possibly because it can be seen as “a bit icky and embarrassing”.  The reality is that, as at September 2021, we have upwards of 1.3 million people in New Zealand who fall within the age range of menopause (usually between 45 and 55 years old, although not limited to this age range).  There is a whole range of symptoms that come with Menopause which can affect people in the workplace, as well as in their private lives.  The more we educate ourselves around menopause, the more effective we can be in providing support.

Here are a few tips for businesses employing people going through menopause:


  1. Education and Awareness:  Provide education and training to management and employees about menopause.  Promote understanding and empathy to reduce misconceptions or biases.  There are two documentaries on TVNZ+ which are well worth taking the time to watch. Sex, Myths and The Menopause; and Sex, Mind and The Menopause.  Please raise awareness of these resources to your staff.
  2. Open Communication:  Encourage open and honest communication with your employee. Create a safe space where individuals feel comfortable talking to you about their symptoms, concerns, or any necessary adjustments they may need.  Regular check-ins and feedback sessions can help identify and address any challenges and give you the opportunity to offer support.
  3. Flexible Work Arrangements: Consider offering flexibility around work options. This may include flexible hours, remote work options, or adjustments to workload distribution.
  4. A Menopause Policy:  Outlining options available e.g. leave options, EAP support, time off for doctors’ visits etc.

It is important to note that menopause is a highly individualised experience, and not all people will experience every symptom (or any).  Some may have mild symptoms that do not significantly impact their daily lives, while others may experience more severe symptoms that require medical intervention.

By being proactive with wellbeing, education, awareness and accommodating the unique needs of menopausal people, this can foster a more inclusive and supportive workplace environment.  This ultimately benefits both individual employees and the overall productivity of the organisation.

When it comes to the Wellbeing of all your employees, If you want to do more than a tick box exercise, then contact Everest and we can help you get a clear understanding of where your team are at by utilizing our targeted Wellbeing Survey.  Following the survey, our specialists will help you determine the next steps.

– Jean Schoultz, People & Culture Specialist