Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Businesses could be compounding current skills shortage says new report

Businesses will continue to lose skilled workers if they continue to disregard the significance of how menopause symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue and anxiety, can dramatically impact performance in the workplace, according to a new report.

According to Irwin Mitchell, this lack of action is compounding the current skills shortage and it will make it more difficult to attract new employees. Lawyers also warn that it could result in businesses facing costly discrimination claims in the future.

The study of 1,025 HR decision makers working across British businesses found that only one in five employers consider menopausal symptoms during the performance reviews of female staff. This is despite it being widely accepted that the effects of the menopause can be debilitating for a woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing. Symptoms have a huge impact on a women’s confidence in work, lead to periods of absence and, in some case resignations. The survey also found that only 13% of organisations that had a high representation of women in their workforce had a menopausal policy.

According to Irwin Mitchell, this lack of action is compounding the current skills shortage and it will make it more difficult to attract new employees. Lawyers also warn that it could result in businesses facing costly discrimination claims in the future.

Partner Jenny Arrowsmith said: “These are disappointing results and when you consider menopause is an issue affecting the fastest-growing demographic in the UK, namely women aged 50-64, it’s clear businesses must do more.

“It’s about time that menopause is openly discussed as a health and work issue and for employers to demonstrate that they take it seriously. Establishing a menopause policy is a simple and valuable starting point.

“Not only does a menopause policy help promote positive change within an organisation, it sets a framework for evidencing how it will approach conversations about the menopause, what support affected employees can expect to receive, and where they can access additional help. In doing so, it reduces the risk of costly disputes.

“There has been a significant rise in the number of employment tribunals where menopause is mentioned over the last two to three years and as awareness of this issue grows, we expect to see complaints increase further. Our survey demonstrates that there is a considerable amount of work still to do. This risk will increase if additional legal protection is given to those who have significant menopausal symptoms, which is something the Women and Equalities Committee are considering.

“Organisations that have woken up to the issue and are aware of the challenges that women face when going through the menopause are in a much stronger place to attract and retain colleagues who are often at the peak of their experience and have many more productive years ahead of them.”

A survey by menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson found that 99% of respondents said their perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers, with more than a third calling the impact ‘significant’. Almost 20% were off more than eight weeks and half of this group resigned or took early retirement.

She said: “I am saddened yet unsurprised by the findings of the Irwin Mitchell survey. The themes that highlight the challenges and inequalities perimenopausal and menopausal women face at work continuously reoccur in research and I have found similar findings through my own. It is the responsibility of organisations to create a menopause confident environment and the evidence suggests that those who do, retain talent and empower both their female and male employees.”


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