According to a Mayo Clinic research released on Wednesday, i.e., 26th April 2023 the symptoms of menopause — hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes, sleep disruptions, joint pains, and cognitive issues — cost the United States an estimated $1.8 billion in missed work time each year. When medical expenditures are factored in, the total jumps to $26.6 billion.
According to the study, 13% of the 4,440 employed women participating in the study reported an unsatisfactory job outcome related to menopausal symptoms, and 11% reported missing work as a result of their symptoms. Missing work, reducing hours, being laid off, being fired, resigning, retiring, or changing employment were all negative work outcomes.
“The takeaway for employers is that there is an urgent need to address this issue for women in the workplace,” said Dr. Stephanie Faubion, head of Mayo Clinic Women’s Health and main author of the study, in a press release.
In the workplace, women’s health benefits and treatment are critical factors for fostering gender equality, enhancing women’s health and well-being, and supporting a productive workforce. Some of the primary reasons for the importance of women’s health benefits and treatments include; promoting gender equality, supporting women’s health, reducing absenteeism, attracting and retaining talent, and improving workplace culture
Investing in women’s health benefits and treatment at work is not only the moral thing to do, but it is also a smart and humanistic move. Employers who promote women’s health will likely witness increased productivity, lower absenteeism, and a more varied and competent workforce.
But at the same time, when it comes to benefits and treatment for women’s health at work, shortcomings are often seen, viz., lack of comprehensive coverage, limited access to paid leave, unequal treatment, the stigma around women’s health issues, limited access to health resources, inadequate workplace accommodations, etc.
These flaws can have a serious impact on women’s health and well-being, and they may also lead to gender inequities in the workplace.
A Carrot Fertility survey of workers planning or building a family, which was published on April 18, found that the availability of comprehensive health benefits can be the reason someone chooses to stay with or leave a company. 65 percent of the 5,000 respondents stated that they would switch jobs to work for a company that offered fertility benefits, and 72 percent stated that they would stay with their current employer for a longer period of time if their current employer offered those benefits. Seventy-five percent said that fertility benefits are important to creating an inclusive workplace.
Infertility has generally been viewed as a taboo in the work environment. Senior author Ekta Kapoor pointed out in the Mayo Clinic release that menopause is also associated with a stigma. Kapoor wrote, “Women may be reluctant to disclose their menopause symptoms to their workplace managers and others because they frequently fear bias, discrimination, and stigmatization.” This may be addressed by recognizing these concerns and creating a secure workplace for women to discuss their healthcare requirements.
“Clinicians need to ask women about menopause symptoms and offer guidance, treatment, and employers need to create and implement workplace strategies and policies to help women navigate this universal life transition,” Faubion added.
Because menopause occurs around the age of 52, those affected account for a sizable proportion of the workforce, according to the researchers. Worker absenteeism, low productivity, medical costs, and missed opportunities for advancement are the negative effects of menopause symptoms that can all add up to affect a woman’s career.
The authors of the Mayo Clinic urge that businesses develop safe spaces for women to discuss their healthcare concerns, give employer and management education and training, and implement supporting policies regarding sick leave and flexible hours.
According to a Workhuman poll conducted last year, fewer than half of the women who replied believed their employers were supportive of their menopause, delivery process, or wedding-related preparations.