Not recognizing the impact of menopause on the workplace can be a costly mistake

Feb 07, 2022
women wrting on a white board in a meeting

An increasing body of research suggests employers who don't recognize the impact of the menopausal transition on employees may face significant financial consequences. In a large US study of over a quarter of a million women in the workplace, researchers found that untreated menopausal vasomotor symptoms (i.e., night sweats, hot flushes) cost employers over $370,000,000 in direct health costs and indirect workplace costs [1].

recent article in the New York Times explored how other issues of the menopausal transition affect women at work. Mood swings, sleep issues, brain fog, and unusually heavy periods are just some of the things women face as they progress through menopause.

In multiple studies, menopausal women also reported poor concentration, impaired memory, anxiety, depression, and lowered confidence at work. Many women also indicated that menopausal issues were compounded because of workplace taboos related to aging.

Recent studies have shown that when menopausal issues are experienced in the workplace, women also report less overall job satisfaction and less workplace engagement. Several studies connected menopausal issues at work and a much higher intention to quit [2].

A British survey of 2,000 women between the ages of 45 and 67 reported last week that one in four women experiencing symptoms of menopause were unhappy in their jobs because of a lack of support, and that nearly one in five were considering quitting because of it.
~Melinda Wenner Moyer, New York Times

For every one of those resignations, companies pay the price in off-boarding and on-boarding costs, institutional knowledge loss, and more. It can cost 30-200% of an annual salary to replace your employees, and costs increase for those with specialized expertise.

If you are considering a supportive program to address menopause in the workplace, here are some fundamental changes to consider [3]:

  • Make menopause a visible and acceptable topic at work
  • Adopt a lifespan approach to supporting women. That is, supportive programs for women should recognize challenges at all stages of life.
  • Allow access to temperature regulation (e.g., access to desk fans), cool drinking water, and clean and accessible restrooms
  • Offer specialized programs that address the health sequelae associated with menopause (e.g., bone health, chronic disease prevention, mental health support)
  • Provide flexible start times to support women who have sleep challenges
  • Provide manager menopause awareness training
  • Ensure that EFAPs that are sensitive to and trained in the midlife transition

Women in the menopausal transition can also benefit from a supportive community. Making an effort to facilitate meetings or spaces where women can connect can also sends the message to your staff that you recognize the impact of menopause at work.

If you would like more information on the best ways to support, engage and better retain your midlife and older female employees, please contact us at [email protected]


[1] Hardy, C., Thorne, E., Griffiths, A., & Hunter, M. S. (2018). Work outcomes in midlife women: the impact of menopause, work stress and working environment. Women’s Midlife Health, 4, 3.

[2] Sarrel, P., Portman, D., Lefebvre, P., Lafeuille, M.-H., Grittner, A. M., Fortier, J.,Gravel, J., Duh, M. S., & Aupperle, P. M. (2015). Incremental direct and indirect costs of untreated vasomotor symptoms. Menopause (New York, N.Y.), 22(3),260–266.

[3]Jack, G., Riach, K., Bariola, E., Pitts, M., Schapper, J., & Sarrel, P. (2016). Menopause in the workplace: What employers should be doing. Maturitas, 85, 88–95.

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