As the age of Covid and the great resignation proved that employee offers and benefits can no longer sit on the back burner, we still have a long way to go in supporting working moms and women.
Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood Survey revealed the tip of a colossal iceberg: women are rarely offered the adequate support they need by their employers. The survey revealed that one of the main things that mothers aspire to is better support at work— 55% of working mothers want longer, paid maternity leave, 48% want greater job flexibility and 44% want childcare support on site or in a subsidiary.
And if you think that changes as you get older and your kids become more self-sufficient and independent, you’re wrong. Older mothers still yearn for that support from their employers, but for a whole new reason: menopause. In the USA, approximately 1.3 million women go through menopause each year. That’s 1.3 million women entering a new phase of health and wellness with little or no support. We’re stuck in a place where women’s health topics like this are considered taboo and unsuitable to discuss, especially in the workplace.
Recently, my startup Electra Health– which provides a next-generation digital health platform that empowers women through evidence-based menopause education, care and community – completed a Report on menopause at work (2022). We surveyed 2,000 employees between the ages of 40 and 55 and across different racial and ethnic groups. We have found that lack of employer support negatively affects women, often mothers, at the peak of their careers.
No woman should be held back by the natural and necessary changes that occur in her body, just as no woman should be held back just because she is a mother. Being a good employer means supporting your employees, all of them, in the stages of their professional and personal life.
According to our report, here are some of the most important things women want from their employers as they embark on this new, often overlooked phase of their lives. Whether it’s directly relevant to you as a woman at the peak of your career, or as a team leader, executive, or human resources manager making decisions about benefits for your business, this is for you.
The most important thing a woman can have during menopause is flexibility. This includes everything from where she works to what she wears and more. If remote or hybrid work is right for your workplace, then let employees use it. Offer extra PTO or sick days to accommodate employees who are feeling unwell and need more time off.
Other changes called for by the women we interviewed include uniform variations that allow you to dress according to your temperature, unlimited bathroom breaks, designated rest areas, and customization of workspaces (i.e. i.e. the possibility of having a fan on your desk).
Moreover, these offers extend far beyond the needs of postmenopausal women. All employees can benefit from implementing these types of rules and practices. For example, designated rest areas can also serve as a private and comfortable place for new mothers to pump. Extra sick days can go a long way for women who suffer from severe menstrual symptoms and dread getting out of bed on certain days. Minor changes in flexibility like these apply to women at all stages of life, especially menopause.
Inform & educate
Women’s health, especially menopause, is often considered taboo and shameful. But that stigma can be broken in your workplace by make it an educated and talked about subject. It’s important for employers to conduct awareness training for all levels of employees, from the recent college graduate to the 75-year-old vice president. We all know a woman—in fact, many women—who are going through or about to go through menopause. By educating our workforce, we create an open line of communication and understanding that employees will carry throughout their lives.
You can get started today by hosting an educational event with experts or adding information to your company’s health and benefits wiki. If public channels are not as easily accessible or developed, consider designating an internal menopause champion who can provide a trusted, one-on-one channel to share employee needs and requests with HR.
In addition, employers can advertise the availability of women’s support groups, or even set up one in-house bringing together women in their own company. Create a sense of connection and community so that women don’t feel so alone in the midst of all these changes they are going through. Women are looking for support and having a group of women who understand exactly what you are going through can mean a lot. Employers can also take the initiative to put women in touch with an expert or a company such as Electrawhich provides much-needed resources for women during this time.
Last but not least, employee health benefits must meet individual needs, including menopause. The majority of women surveyed said they would find menopause support from their employer (62%) and insurers (73%) helpful.
While many health and benefits plans meet fertility and/or pregnancy needs, in the United States, they rarely address other forms of women’s health issues. In 2022, it is imperative that employers expand their plans to provide menopause-specific treatments and benefits. In fact, the majority of respondents in our recent study indicated that they felt “left out” of their company’s women’s health benefits because they focused so narrowly on fertility.
If there’s one thing women of all ages need most, it’s support from their employers. Women’s health is too often overlooked and stigmatized when in reality it is something that affects half of the world’s population. Hearing from the women in our report, there is such an overwhelming desire for more support and care.
It’s high time to break the menopause taboo and start having that long-awaited conversation. The HR teams are there to help you. I invite you to seek the care you deserve, even if it’s something as simple and inexpensive as having brochures available for women. Not every step will be a leap, but regardless, you will be moving in the right direction. And I hope that means a world of change for every woman and mother who comes after us.
STATEMENT OF METHODOLOGY
Motherly designed and administered the State of Motherhood survey through Motherly’s subscriber list, social media and partner channels, resulting in over 17,000 responses creating a clean and unweighted of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1,197 respondents, the Millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect race and the ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.
This story is part The Motherly Collective network of contributors where we feature stories, experiences, and advice from brands, writers, and experts who want to share their insights with our community. We believe that there is no single story of motherhood and that every mother’s journey is unique. By amplifying each mother’s experience and providing expert-led content, we can support, inform and inspire each other on this incredible journey. If you would like to contribute to The Motherly Collective, please email [email protected].