Menopause, a hidden health concern, and the workplace
Professor Amanda Griffiths, Professor of Occupational Health Psychology, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences, Professorial Fellow of the Institute of Mental Health
Professor Griffiths conducts policy-oriented research into older women's mental health and wellbeing and in dementia. Professor Griffiths has conducted the largest study to date in the UK on women's experience of menopause, a study which has been influential in the development of policy and guidance at national and international levels. Her research led to the publication of the Guidance on Menopause and the Workplace by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine (Royal College of Physicians) in 2016. It provides practical guidelines to help women experiencing troublesome menopausal symptoms, and to support them and their colleagues and managers in tackling the occupational aspects of menopausal symptoms.
Her work is pivotal in the context that menopause which can adversely affect women in the workplace has been taboo for long. And yet, severe menopausal symptoms and their consequences may combine to have a substantial adverse effect on normal day to day activities, potentially meeting the legal definition of a disability under the Equality Act. Embedding the menopause in a wider health and wellbeing agenda may therefore help encourage discussion of issues related to supporting longer working lives. This publication is timely as employers now gradually acknowledge the potential impact of the menopause on women, and the responsibilities that they have for the health and safety of all their employees. While there are clear business reasons for proactively managing an age-diverse workforce, many employers do not yet have clear processes to support women coping with menopausal symptoms.
Another key strength of the Guidance is that many of the recommendations have been curated from women suffering from menopause to ensure that workplaces provide the right kind of support with specific considerations. The Report recommends that employers monitor the projected age distribution of the workforce to create a proactive approach about the health needs of their employees. It recommends the support of occupational health professionals to human resource policy and provides advice to employers about how to promote a diverse and inclusive workforce encompassing women of menopausal age.
Professor Griffiths’s research on preventing work-related mental ill-health was at the forefront of developing an evidence base for tackling the organisational causes of work-related stress. Professor Griffiths and her colleagues were commissioned by the UK Government's Health & Safety Executive to work with employers to develop a risk management approach to the control of psychosocial risks to health at work. This paved the way for the British Government Health and Safety Executive advice to employers about how to avoid what is the largest cause of work-related ill-health and sickness absence today. The policy interest of her research lies in influencing Government guidelines for employers and the development of subsequent organisational level policies in the UK, the European Union and other countries around the world.