Retaining women in the workforce: overcoming challenges facing employers

Retaining women in the workforce: overcoming challenges facing employers

Resignation rates remain high with many root causes for why women may be leaving their employer or workforce altogether – creating an opportunity for employers to help extend women’s careers and retain a wealth of knowledge and experience.

One of those factors is the menopause taboo – One in ten women say they haven’t talked to anyone about experiencing perimenopause or menopause. 

The average age at which women say they have gone or are currently going through perimenopause or menopause is 41, according to new research from MetLife UK. However, almost two in five (39%) are under 40. And 7% of 18–24-year-olds cite experiencing some form of symptoms. MetLife asked 355 women of all ages about their experience of perimenopause and menopause.

Main symptoms include mood changes/low mood (65%), hot flushes/excessive sweating/night sweats (65%), difficulty sleeping (62%), headaches (50%) and memory and concentration issues (45%).

Despite going through perimenopause or menopause and experiencing symptoms, one in ten (10%) women admit they haven’t talked to anyone about it.

For those who do wish to turn to someone, friends (47%) are most popular, followed by a GP/medical professional (41%), family members – including parents, siblings, children, and grandparents (39%) – and spouse (30%). Also making the list is work colleagues with almost a quarter (22%) of women stating they turn to their friends at work.

The research explored the views of women – currently working full or part-time and have gone through or currently going through either perimenopause or menopause – on experiencing symptoms whilst at work. The research aims to shine on a light on a topic that’s sensitive and affects so many by breaking the currently taboo.

Amy Tomlinson, Head of HR at MetLife UK comments:

“Retaining women within the workplace is a challenge many businesses face, particularly at present due to the impact of the menopause. The impact can be so great that women feel the only option is to leave the workplace early, meaning a wealth of expertise and knowledge can just disappear at all levels across an organisation.

“Perimenopause and menopause remain a taboo subject and is one of many root causes that can lead to early departure from the workforce, because as a society many feel uncomfortable talking about it, despite the large numbers of women it affects every year. Historically many may have associated menopause with later life, but our research shows this is an issue impacting people of all ages, with many experiencing symptoms by the age of 40.

Although it’s a difficult and deeply personal subject that people understandably may not wish to discuss with colleagues, the sheer impact that some symptoms may be having on people’s day to day lives means that we must create an environment where people feel comfortable opening up. Whether you know someone experiencing symptoms or want to advocate on someone’s behalf, showing them support by being there when they need it, can go a long way to helping someone feel understood and less alone.

At MetLife we are working hard to create awareness and educating associates to provide a robust support framework to retain women in the workforce and minimise the possibility that menopause can result in many feeling the only option is to leave the workplace early.”

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