menopause friendly employers sharing winning strategies for success

In a bid to share best practice for menopause in the workplace, we asked seven winners of the 2023 Menopause Friendly Employer Awards to share an element of their strategy for success. Workplaces have a huge role to play in normalising conversations around menopause and providing physical, mental and emotional support both to colleagues experiencing symptoms and those supporting them. 

Increasingly, we are seeing employers sign pledges and form policies but those alone won’t make change happen. Training staff and educating all colleagues are essential to change hearts and minds in the workplace. Truly listening to people before making workplace adjustments, championing menopause advocates and shaping networks all combine to ensure a menopause friendly workplace. Once awareness, acceptance and understanding are in place, you can build on these to really change the lived experience of menopause in your workplace. 

We are most grateful to seven of this year’s Menopause Friendly Employer Award winners for sharing their successful strategies for workplace training, inclusion, support, environment and engagement.

Be inclusive

Joined Up Care Derbyshire NHS Integrated Care Board – winner Most Inclusive Menopause Friendly Employer

Recognise that communities may have different experiences and concerns – be that race, gender, ability or ethnicity – contribute to a different experience of menopause in the workplace. Work closely with Equality, Diversity and Inclusion staff networks to gain a rich understanding of your colleagues’ needs and then create menopause support networks and initiatives for ethnically diverse, LGBTQ+ and BAME colleagues to ensure their specific needs are met and voices heard. 

Create an open workplace

Santander – winner Most Open Workplace

An open culture goes hand in hand with creating a sense of psychological safety for individuals. Ensure senior leaders are informed and engaged in supporting menopause at work including sharing their own lived experience where appropriate. Train HR colleagues, people managers, champions and allies to have an open conversation about menopause and to signpost people to the support available. Recognise menopause symptoms as a valid reason for absence: this can encourage individuals to speak up about how they’re feeling. Knowing this is the reason for absence means you can have the right discussions as an employer to provide the most appropriate support needed to help people thrive.

Engage colleagues

Department for Education – winner Best Engagement Campaign

Draw up an organisation-specific Menopause Pledge and ensure senior staff and managers the first to sign it to lead by example. Listen carefully to colleagues’ concerns and then act on these to bring about improvements. This builds confidence among people that if they engage, they will be heard and helped. Start a listening circle and undertake regular menopause surveys to encourage colleagues to engage openly and honestly. 

Create a menopause friendly environment

QVC UK – winner Most Menopause Friendly Environment

Pay attention to the little touches. Universally popular at QVC UK is a free kit including shower gel, towel, sanitaryware and fresh clothing. (They also pop in a lovely poem to provide a moment of reflection.) This was a colleague’s suggestion – showing how someone experiencing menopause symptoms is best placed to suggest other work environment changes. Another simple idea is to provide a quiet cool room for time out and relaxation. 

Implement and execute impactful training

BT Group – winner Best Training Initiative

Create a learning team or ‘squad’ of volunteers and experts to help shape training that will resonate with the wider workforce. Finding out what people need to know and also how they feel currently. Use focus groups with colleagues to gather insights, understand the various personas of your intended training audience – and don’t forget to include managers. Look beyond training those experiencing menopause in the workplace first-hand to include all colleagues. One thing that worked very well at BT was its ‘Let’s talk about menopause’ campaign which included a series of colleague videos showing their own experiences of menopause as a colleague, son and partner.

Support your staff

WTW – winner Best Support Group

Form a Menopause Support Group responsible for providing support, promoting an inclusive culture and prioritising talent. Create a diverse community of both male and female colleagues of all ages with the purpose of sharing stories, signposting and providing support. Enlist visible engagement from senior staff and encourage them to raise awareness and start conversations with senior colleagues across the organisation to cascade best practice far and wide. Translate your menopause guidance into different languages to support staff for whom English is not their first language: work with a native speaker to ensure cultural elements are also considered.

Prioritise medical matters

Thames Valley Police – winner Menopause Friendly Large Employer of the Year

We regard menopause as an integral part of our business in everything we do, so we can all be our best selves. Within this, it’s important not to lose sight of the fact menopause is a medical issue for many. Invite local GPs or healthcare professionals to speak to front line, HR and occupational health staff to ensure whoever colleagues turn to for help, they are assured of a good level of understanding. Consider accessing confidential outsourced support via an app or online consultations to give staff peace-of-mind.

Always a winner

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