Menopause is gradually being talked about more openly, and businesses are beginning to be more aware of, and to understand, the reasons why they should look to support their female employees at this stage of their lives.
However, some female employees don’t discuss with their manager how they are feeling, what is happening to them and what could help them.
Why is this?
There are several reasons why a female employee may choose not to speak to her manager:
- She may be concerned that her manager will link her situation to performance, and expect her performance to deteriorate because of what she is experiencing
- She may be embarrassed and fearful of being on the receiving end of jokes
- She may fear that disclosure will affect her promotion opportunities
- She may fear being stereo-typed. Women are all individuals and will go through menopause in an individual way. What one woman experiences may not be experienced by another. What one woman may need to make her life easier at this stage, may not be what is needed by another. However, limited understanding and awareness of menopause and its impact, can mean all women at this stage of life are simply labelled as ‘menopausal’ and depicted as holding fans and getting angry
- Having a male line manager or a younger female line manager may make a woman feel that she will not be understood as she will be outside of their experience
- Being in a male-dominated occupation could cause a woman to feel that disclosing that she is going through the menopause will be seen as a weakness and put her at a disadvantage
- She may believe that menopause is inappropriate to discuss at work, particularly if the culture of the organisation is one of leaving your personal life at the door
Many more businesses are becoming menopause friendly now, but there is still a way to go, and the manager/employee relationship is a crucial one in ensuring that a business can retain the skills and experiences of women who are at this stage of life.
The more menopause is talked about, the better it is for everyone, and being aware of some of the reasons why your female employees may not choose to talk to you about this, is very important.