BIOTE WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE SURVEY
Written By: Biote, May 10, 2022
The Biote 2022 Women in the Workplace Survey asked 1,010 women between 50 to 65 years old who work full- or part-time if menopause symptoms were affecting their work performance and career.
The results clearly show a generation of women in the workforce who are suffering in silence, doubting that their employer or workplace will support them as they shift into this natural life stage. Although many women reported that menopause symptoms were negatively impacting their work and career, the vast majority had not spoken to their employer or manager at work about it. These women do not want to single themselves out as experiencing menopause or receiving accommodations at work; they are stoic, and view menopause as a private matter.
However, women ages 45 to 64 make up 17.5% of the labor force in the U.S., and are leaving the workforce in record numbers. With employee retention – especially of experienced workers – at the top of mind, there is a tremendous urgency and opportunity for employers to act.
There’s no doubt more research, education, and awareness about the effects of menopause is needed, and the U.S. lags behind countries such as the U.K. in supporting menopausal women in the workplace. However, right now employers can take the lead in normalizing this life phase within their workforce. Providing supportive life options for employees helps retain valued workers and empowers them to perform at their best while enjoying their work. Furthermore, normalizing this life stage through company policy and consideration builds company loyalty and reputation, while also increasing an employee’s quality of work and productivity, impacting a company’s bottom line. It’s a win-win.
There are over 30 different symptoms of menopause, and while every woman’s experience of this life phase is different, almost all women feel the effects of fluctuations in hormone levels. These symptoms range from troubling effects on emotions and memory to more physical manifestations and can take a deep toll on a woman’s career and job satisfaction.
Even though 25% of women ages 50 to 65 years old have never been told by their doctor (PCP or OB/GYN) that they were in perimenopause or menopause, 92% of the respondents have experienced one or more symptoms associated with menopause in the past year.
At least half of respondents reported hot flashes, night sweats, lack of sleep, joint stiffness/aches and pains, and fatigue.
47% of women reported anxiety
43% reported headaches
42% reported memory lapses
Menopause Interfering with Job Performance and Satisfaction
Four out of every 10 women reported that menopause symptoms interfered with their work performance or productivity on a weekly basis at minimum, and 2 out of 10 women noted that menopause symptoms interfered with their work performances/productivity either daily or multiple times a day.
40% said menopause interfered with their work performance at least weekly
20% said menopause interfered with work daily or multiple times a day
A Hidden Contributor that Women are Leaving the Workforce
The Harvard Business Review reported that menopause occurs when women are most likely to move into top leadership positions. However, within this demographic 1 out of 4 women felt that their menopause symptoms negatively impacted their career development or work-related opportunities, while 17% have actually quit a job or considered quitting due to menopause symptoms.
26% felt that their menopause symptoms negatively impacted their career
17% have actually quit or considered quitting a job due to menopause symptoms
516,000 workforce departures due to menopause symptoms
1.7 million additional people at risk of leaving the workforce due to menopause symptoms
Women make up 47% of the 2020 labor force, and women ages 45 to 64 make up 17.5% of the labor force in the U.S., according to Dept. of Labor statistics. With up to 20% of the US workforceaffected by menopause symptoms, it’s no wonder women are leaving the U.S. workforce in record numbers.
While reliable childcare and interrupted school schedules are much-discussed factors in women deciding to leave the workforce, the challenge and stigma of dealing with menopause symptoms is also a significant yet hidden factor that no one talks about.
If 4% of working women 55 to 64 quit due to menopause symptoms – that’s half a million people leaving the labor force due to menopause.
If 13% of working women 55 to 64 consider quitting due to menopause symptoms – that’s another 1.7 million people at risk of leaving the workforce.
If we add working women ages 45 to 54, up to 2.9 million more women are at risk of leaving the workforce due to menopause symptoms.
U.S. Department of Labor categories for working women of menopausal age are grouped as ages 45-54 and 55-64. Extrapolated numbers reflect responses from a survey population ages 50-65.
A Multitude of Symptoms Impact Working Women
When asked which of 14 common menopause symptoms were difficult to deal with in a work environment, respondents indicated:
Women Reveal Stigma of Menopause and Suffer in Silence
Raised in a generation where menopause was a taboo subject, these women do not want to single themselves out as experiencing menopause or receiving accommodations at work. They are stoic, and view menopause as a private matter.
Over 87% of respondents had not spoken to an employer or manager at work about their menopause symptoms, citing reasons that suggest feelings of shame and fear of discrimination or being seen as weak or making excuses. These women also indicated they did not want or need help from their workplace, also indicating they felt there was nothing their workplace could do to help them.
Many women feel there is nowhere to turn as they try to cope with the impact of menopause symptoms in the workplace. One in 4 respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed their employer and colleagues would support people experiencing challenges in the workplace due to menopause; only 34% of respondents believed those people would be supported.
87% had not spoken to an employer or manager at work about their menopause symptoms
25% felt their colleagues would NOT support them
34% believe they WOULD be supported
10% of respondents strongly agreed their employer and colleagues would support people with menopausal challenges in the workplace but an equal number, 10%, strongly disagreed.
Only 12% of respondents had actually spoken to their employer or manager about their menopause symptoms, and 40% of these felt the results were unsatisfactory, with over 10% of these reporting the conversation had a detrimental effect on their reputation and relationships at work.
Supportive Work Environment Key to Hiring and Retention
Women who are in senior positions at work with decades of experience behind them are the same women who have spent their career trailblazing and breaking through glass ceilings. They are the mentors and advocates for the upcoming generation of women, and they recognize the importance of a workplace that supports life stage options for women.
Although these women don’t feel comfortable asking for accommodations for themselves, over half of the respondents (57%) said that if they were considering working for a company, it would be important to them if the company clearly expressed a commitment to support employees with menopause symptoms.
57% say it would be important to them if a potential employer clearly expressed a commitment to supporting employees with menopause symptoms.
What Employers Can Do Now
While countries such as the U.K. have passed workplace menopause policy, the U.S. continues to lag behind in adopting progressive measures.
Almost 65% of respondents reported that their workplace did not have any accommodations for menopause symptoms in place. Of the 35% reporting existing accommodations, work from home options and employee-directed temperature controls were the most common.
When asked to write in a response to the question “what one thing do you wish your employer or manager would do for employees to help them manage menopause,” these same two accommodations – flexibility and temperature controls – were the most cited request. However, they were closely followed by requests to “offer kindness,” to be “compassionate” and to “be aware of what your employee is going through.”
65% reported that their workplace did not have any accommodations for menopause symptoms.
It’s time for CEOs, managers and employers to take the lead in offering supportive life stage options for employees. Together, we can work toward making supportive environments routine, whether employees are raising children, breastfeeding, experiencing menopause or caring for the elderly.
Our path to the future is to attract and retain the best talent across all life stages. Our entire society needs to break the taboo of menopause and normalize these conversations at home, in schools, and at work. The burden should not be placed on working women who may fear bias, derision, or negative effects on their career and work relationships.
We can make helpful options available, and we can make it safe to ask for them with very simple actions. Creating that opening can be as simple as noting menopause-related options in an employee manual, normalizing this natural life stage, and extending kindness.
Temperature Control. Flex time… And be kind.
Responses to the open-ended question “what one thing do you wish your employer or manager would do for employees to help them manage menopause” included multiple variations of calls for kindness:
“Just try to be understanding”
“Listen and respect
“Kindness and discretion”