Time to Wake-Up to Workplace Health and to Menopause!
By now, most employers know that a healthy workforce is happier, and more productive with less absenteeism and lower healthcare costs. COVID19 has heightened general health concerns and raised awareness of the importance of investing in employee health and resilience more than ever. So where do we start and what matters as the clock ticks to end 2022 and wake-up 2023?
Swiss Health Promotion provides the timepiece we need!
Swiss Health Promotion (SHP) is a foundation supported by Swiss cantons (like states) and insurance companies. Under government mandate, SHP initiates, coordinates, and evaluates measures aimed at promoting health including very robust tools for Workplace Health Management (WHM). These tools include meeting the criteria of the prestigious FRIENDLY WORKSPACE label. The label — which has currently been awarded to nearly 100 companies employing over 215’000 employees — takes into consideration critical aspects (among others) of corporate social responsibility, belonging and inclusion of all, positive work environment, work-life balance, pregnant women, and nursing mothers. The Swiss are renowned for watches and timepieces, their workplace health management tools are a unique wake-up call.
Ellen Kocher is an expert in Workplace Health, accredited as both a consultant and assessor for the FRIENDLY WORKSPACE label. She is also a certified Health and Wellness Coach to groups and individuals with much of her work focused on women and menopause. In this article, Ellen explores the current trends in workplace health to wake up conversations and mindsets with practical solutions for 2023.
Waking up the conversation around Mental Health including Menopause
While mental health is taking the spotlight for 2023 – especially when considering the most recent Swiss Health Promotion Job Stress Index which indicates that 50.66% of Swiss suffer from job stress – it is critical that we continue to open the conversation on the less talked about aspects of health, like menopause. This is especially important due to the undeniable links between mental health and menopause.
Even though nearly half of the world’s population will experience this biological transition and nearly half of all women work, menopause is rarely an open topic of discussion in the workplace. A YouGov poll of 1,025 HR professionals found that 72% of organizations did not have a menopause policy and that 77% did not train line managers on the subject.
Yet, approximately 75% of women will experience some menopause symptoms and 25% will experience serious symptoms.Interestingly, research by Harvard, Mayo Clinic, and the NHS shows that most women are reluctant or even afraid to talk to their employer about menopause.
“Though Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are hot topics in the workplace, the hot flash of menopause remains largely taboo.” —Ellen Kocher
Why menopause matters in the modern workplace
- Menopause is a natural condition affecting all women
- With current demographics and increased life expectancy, the trend is for women – the fastest-growing sector of the workforce – to continue working later in life.
- Un-managed menopause symptoms can have an enormous economic impact, directly affecting attendance, health care costs, and work performance.
- Though well-being has globally emerged as a strategic business priority, workplaces, working practices, and health policies are generally not designed with menopause in mind.
- Research suggests that workplace ageism and misogyny can play a part in the exclusion of menopause symptoms from corporate health policies, making this a relevant Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion component.
- Menopause occurs at an average age of 51 which correlates with a critical career stage when women are more likely to occupy stressful senior positions. This is especially relevant as we continue to increase the number of women in leadership roles and encourage their valuable contributions to the bottom line.
- Menopause often occurs when women have other major life stressors such as aging relatives and/or children leaving home, all impacting resilience.
- Symptoms such as hot flashes, “brain fog”, anxiety, depression, and sleep issues can reduce confidence, add to workplace pressure, and cause embarrassment.
- Women have a tendency not to disclose symptoms at work due to concern about their careers or embarrassment.
How we can wake-up?
- Start the conversation!
- Shift our thinking and begin considering menopause as mainstream and as important as any other occupational health issue.
- Accept that menopause is not just a female issue, it’s an organizational and societal matter.
- Provide programs to increase awareness among managers and employees of menopause as a genuine occupational health issue.
- Cultivate a culture where women feel comfortable about discussing symptoms and their impact on their working lives.
- Educate all employees with basic facts from trusted sources to encourage open conversations and connect them to concerns of stress and burnout.
- Provide options around flexible working hours and work environments – such as office temperature or ventilation – to help manage symptoms.
- Ensure that menopause is included in corporate well-being, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, or general HR policy.
- If you are a leader going through menopause, try to normalize your challenges, so that other women can feel empowered to speak in the future.
- Propose tech support such as: Embrlabs personal cooling device for Menopause, mySysters: The symptom tracker and support network for women going through perimenopause or menopause, Aquafit pain-free intimacy, Moona Active Cooling Pillow, Navina Plus menopause navigation app, Ru Medical, Coolzen hot flash comfort control
Let’s not sleep through this!
If we stay silent – for whatever reason – we need to recognize that weare reinforcing the taboo and ambiguous attitude that currently exists. Through active leadership support, an organization can begin to realize benefits in productivity, work culture, and the bottom line, when the menopausal transition is addressed as a specific, work-related concern. Modern technology featured by Tech4Eva can facilitate this process. So, let’s start the conversation because menopause really does matter!
Staying awake well beyond menopause
Menopause is only one aspect of Workplace Health, and “random acts of wellness” are good, but systematic, leadership-driven strategic initiatives are better and an absolute necessity in today’s VUCA world. Swiss Health Promotion provides a 20-minute online FWS-CHECK to determine where the current workplace health strategy lies. Accredited consultants are available to guide organizations toward a true culture of health to stay awake and improve the bottom line — 4Eva and forever!
About Ellen Kocher
Ellen Kocher is an Economist and Certified Workplace Wellness Consultant in Switzerland and the USA. She holds a master’s degree in Workplace Wellness and Coaching, is an ICF Professional Certified Coach, and isa Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach. Educated in the USA, Ellen has lived in Switzerland for over 30 years. After 10 years in the Finance Industry, she made a personal lifestyle shift and has dedicated the past 20+years to workplace well-being. She has accompanied dozens of organizations to understand, assess and implement holistic well-being to sustainably improve the bottom line
As a Consultant, Coach, Author, and Speaker, Ellen currently holds board positions and distinctions including Global Leader of the International Coaching Federation Health and Wellness Coaching Community, National Wellness Institute Circle of Leadership Award for outstanding contributions in the field of Wellness, and Multicultural Competency Committee, Vice-Chair Global Wellness Institute Health and Wellness Coaching Initiative, ICF Mentor Coach for multiple globally recognized training programs.
Ellen resides in Geneva Switzerland with her husband and 3 children.
Social media and website Ellen
Swiss Health Promotion