This past week the BBC has had the spotlight on that difficult subject of the Menopause, this prompted me to think about my own experience in going through what everybody commonly called “The Change”.
At a time in your life as a woman you are supposed to be “in your prime “ when your family is less reliant on you, and your freedom is returning to you, when you should be enjoying the benefits of your hard work and moving into a new chapter of excitement, dedicating yourself to your career and other things, then “Boom” along comes this feeling of fog in your head, the brain freeze mid conversation, low mood or anger, tiredness, confusion and anxiety and depression, along with a feeling that your temperature gauge has well and truly broken.
For women this can be a very challenging and scary time, especially in the workplace where they can feel very isolated and embarrassed and unable to discuss their situation, which is a natural process with their Manager. It can impact on their ability to do work at their optimum level. The constant need to get fresh air or to combat a sudden hot flush, the inability to be tolerant and patient when any demands are placed on you, is a common theme for a lot of women in the workforce at this “prime time of life”. There are 34 symptoms that can occur in any combination for any one person.
Not all women have such extreme effects, and not all women are over the age of 45 when this occurs, some are quite young and then can also face a battle of convincing others that this is what is wrong. Whatever age a woman is when this “change” starts one thing is certain all women will have it in some form or another.
In the workplace the symptoms can impact on what has been, until then, a very reliable service from the employee to the Company. It can seem a mystery to Managers, both male and female alike, as well as colleagues, as to why this usually dependable woman is not performing or behaving in the same way as she has done in the past and this situation can in some cases go on for some years. Mistakenly, Managers can start action under capability or disciplinary procedure related to complaints of the effects generated from the menopausal behaviour.
The Employee often recognises this before their Manager and may choose to resign for fear of action being taken. In these circumstances both parties lose out. The Company loses a valuable employee and incurs further costs of recruiting a replacement. The employee loses a great job in a company where they have worked hard to achieve a status, and obviously an income which often causes more issues such as confidence crisis and (further) damage to their mental wellbeing.
One way to avoid this is to look at the causes and symptoms and discuss with the employee if there are some adjustments that could be made to assist them at this time such as;
- Change to hours of work
- Fans on the desk
- Flexibility on breaks
- Making cold water drinks available
- Encouraging them to slow down and take their time to give time to think and process things.
- Encouragement to seek professional help via the G.P.
- Being sat by a window which opens.
If you suspect a sudden change in an employee could be due to this “Prime of Life” change then don’t be afraid to ask the employee if they are alright and if there is anything you can do to offer support. A simple three little words like “are you OK?” may be just what is needed to allow the employee to open up about their situation, and to start to explore a road back to the quality and high standards they are used to delivering perhaps with some reasonable adjustments and changes.
If you have an employee, you suspect may be suffering from this natural process and you need help in managing that situation we can help.
Please contact Clover HR for more information via our email at email@example.com or telephone: 01905 824051.