Symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can be incredibly disruptive — but are rarely discussed at work. Around 1 in 5 people even consider switching jobs for better support. An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide will have experienced menopause by 2025. That means many in your workforce, especially senior leaders, are most likely going through this — and are looking for resources. As I recently discussed in Quartz, menopause can be the most impactful phase of a woman’s career, with 79% of women considering working during menopause as challenging.
Even as a healthcare expert, I have felt the impact of menopause symptoms on my well-being, but haven’t always had the resources to feel supported. By providing education, resources, and a flexible and understanding workplace, HR leaders can create a menopause-friendly environment that helps employees thrive at work.
1. Provide education about common symptoms and what to expect.
Misconceptions about menopause are common. For one, common menopause symptoms can begin 4–8 years before, during perimenopause — the transitional period when hormones start to fluctuate. Menopause is when the menstrual cycle has stopped for 12 consecutive months.
Hot flashes are one of the most well-known — and most frequent — symptoms of menopause, but they’re far from the only ones. Trouble sleeping, fatigue, and night sweats are other common physical symptoms. Bodily changes like weight gain, dry skin, thinning hair, and vaginal dryness are also common. Menopause can have an effect on mental health, as well, with 68% of people reporting mood changes and 62% reporting anxiety during their menopause experience.
These symptoms can be uncomfortable and disruptive when unmanaged, so education is critical for helping people address them proactively. Because 51% of people get support for menopause through internet searches — about the same percentage as those who seek support from a doctor — providing access to expert-vetted resources can help close knowledge gaps through reputable guidance. For example, there are many misconceptions about hormone replacement therapy (HRT), like it increases an individual's risk for heart disease or is the only solution for menopause symptoms.
2. Make it easy to access expert medical care.
Although half the population will experience menopause and symptoms are common and challenging, many never seek help. According to our Menopause in the Workplace survey of people across the U.S. and UK, less than one in five said they had a high level of understanding of menopause before symptoms began, and only 28% had ever discussed menopause with their doctor.
Stigma and misunderstanding could explain why people choose not to seek support from doctors. And because only 20% of OB/GYN residency programs offer training in menopause and less than 9% of primary care physicians discuss it proactively with patients, the support someone finds may be lacking even if they decide to reach out for help.
A comprehensive benefit like Carrot offers a straightforward way to find providers with menopause training and personalized clinical education from Carrot Experts so employees don’t bounce around the system searching for support and can receive the best care possible for their needs.
3. Connect employees through support groups.
Medical help isn’t the only support people going through menopause need. Having a group of peers who also understand the experience can also be beneficial. And since many senior leaders may be on or have gone through this journey, they can help foster a safe space and lead by example by prioritizing their health. In Carrot’s 2022 survey of U.S. employees going through perimenopause, menopause, or who had completed menopause within the last 5 years, 66% of respondents were interested in working with a “menopause mentor,” and 69% would find menopause support groups helpful.
Through a menopause benefit, experts can facilitate and guide these groups. Relevant employee resource groups (ERGs), such as those for women or those 40+, can also host support groups and provide resources.
Menopause symptoms can be draining — especially the emotional side effects that can leave people feeling unlike themselves. Creating a safe environment by addressing mental health during this life change is essential for helping employees feel cared for and accepted at work.
4. When possible, encourage flexible scheduling and work-from-home arrangements.
According to our 2023 survey, 54% of respondents have considered at least one form of work routine shift to better handle symptoms, including reducing hours or moving from a full-time to a part-time role. Half of respondents reported that their loss of concentration interfered with their work and productivity, and majority had to deal with feeling self-conscious or uncomfortable after experiencing a menopause symptom at work. Presenteeism is when employees haven’t taken time off but are less productive due to other personal distractions. Research suggests that presenteeism costs employers ten times more than absenteeism. Menopause symptoms can significantly distract your employees if left unaddressed, potentially affecting work performance.
Encouraging a flexible schedule and work-from-home arrangement can help employees going through any fertility health journey feel comfortable.
5. In the office, create a comfortable space for managing symptoms.
Remote work setups are not always possible. So when employees are in the office, creating an inclusive environment is essential.
One option is to offer a specific space for well-being that’s quiet, calming, and available when people need a break. Of the 21% of respondents who did have menopause support at work in the U.S., 26% had access to a menopause room. And 58% of all participants saw at least some value in a menopause room for managing menopause symptoms. Whether your office creates a specific space for menopause management or offers a multipurpose wellness room, having somewhere to relax in privacy can help employees regroup when symptoms are challenging before continuing their day.
How Carrot can help?
Carrot is a comprehensive and clinically managed solution that can help employers create a safe environment for all fertility health journeys –– including hormonal aging. Carrot can support employees through:
- Access to care: Carrot connects members to expert providers that support menopause and low testosterone (low T).
- Personalized clinical education: Members have unlimited telehealth access to specialized experts plus dynamic guides and clinically-reviewed content, allowing them to learn at their own pace.
- Community: Carrot brings members together for intimate, expert-guided discussions on common topics (e.g., managing symptoms). Not only do these sessions provide education, but they also break the culture of silence around menopause and low T to help people feel less alone.