On World Menopause Day we invited our team to share their experiences. Here’s what our Managing Director, Jennifer Marnoch had to say about hers.
If someone had told me a few years ago I would be writing about menopause at work, I’m not sure I would have believed them; but here I am, a woman rattling through her 40s and suddenly in a space that feels very alien to me. We are now surrounded with information on menopause and social media is saturated with content on the topic, but until it actually hits you it can all feel a bit irrelevant.
I’ve happily done all of the research with my ‘MD of an HR business’ hat on and worked with the team to ensure we can support our clients, but then the reality hit home that it was actually happening to me and I became obsessed with reading every piece of information I could get my hands on to try and figure it all out.
One day you wake up and you are not sure who you are anymore. Brain fog kicks in, you can’t remember what you were going to say or the last thought you had. Your emotions can be very unpredictable, your joints are sore, your body temperature is out of control (‘personal summers’, as I like to call them!) and all in all you can feel like an imposter in your own body and mind. All of that is happening and you are trying to still get on with it and ‘be you’ at work.
I am very lucky to be surrounded by a team who appreciates the impact menopause can have on women in the workplace and are extremely supportive of not only our clients but also our own team. We speak openly about it and recognise that not everyone will have the same experience and that we need to support each individual in the way that is right for them.
It’s so important as an employer to make sure you are equipped to support your team and look out for signs, as all too often we are scared or embarrassed to broach the topic. I’ve had some very candid conversations with friends and clients (all of whom are strong, independent women) who have told me stories about their own personal experiences. Some have wanted to resign from their jobs as they don’t feel like they are capable anymore; some have lost their confidence as they are no longer on top form every day and think they will be judged for this; some are just so exhausted some days and can’t get out of bed and some just get so low they don’t know how to go on with life as they currently know it. Each and every conversation I’ve had has been helpful as it has allowed me to support them, share my experience with them in return, and realise we are not in this alone.
We often think that the audience for this support is natural women in their late 40s and 50s, however, with menopausal women being the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce, this is not something we can continue to ignore. We need to stop making menopause a taboo subject and educate everyone. After all, whilst we’re the ones going through it, it will also impact those around us – employers, family members and friends; and without their understanding and support the whole thing would be considerably more difficult.
So today, on World Menopause Day, please take some time to think about the women in your life – be this at work or at home – and think about how you can support them if they are experiencing menopause now, or how you can make sure they feel able to speak up about it when they do in future. Make sure that they have a safe space to talk about what is happening and are not afraid to ask for help when they need it.
As I said earlier, there is now an abundance of menopause-related resources out there but unfortunately, it’s not really a case of one-size-fits-all in terms of what is right for you or suitable for your needs. My advice to anyone who has recently started to experience symptoms of menopause but is not sure where to start is to do some research and see what resonates with you. A few resources I personally have found to be really helpful and have also been recommended to me by fellow menopausal friends and colleagues are:
- Preparing for the Perimenopause and Menopause by Dr Louise Newson
- The menopause at work: resources | CIPD guides
- Davina McCall (@davinamccall) and Lisa Snowdon (@lisa_snowdon) are great to follow on Instagram as they regularly post on the topic and speak about their own experiences