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Wellbeing & why Menopause shouldn't be ignored

Wellbeing - what is it?

As workplace health has evolved, many different terms have been used to describe the industry. This includes workplace health management, corporate health, corporate wellness, health and productivity management and Workplace Wellbeing Programmes. ARK believes the term ‘Workplace Health’ best reflects today’s approach which acknowledges the multiple determinants of employee health, and is more holistic and integrative in nature, addressing both individual and Organisational factors. This is reflected in the definition below: Workplace health represents “the combined efforts of employers, employees and society to improve the health and well-being of people at work. This is achieved through a combination of improving the work organisations and the working environment, promoting the active participation of employees in health activities and encouraging personal development.” (Reference from WHAA, 201708).

Best practice guidelines

As no two organisations are identical, it is difficult to have a fixed formula for a successful workplace health program. However, there are key characteristics that successful and sustainable programs share. Consistent with current research and best-practice, there are 15 guiding principles for development and implementation of a results-oriented program.

  1. Active support and participation by senior leadership 
  2. Health as a shared responsibility 
  3. Engagement of key stakeholders 
  4. Supportive environment and culture 
  5. Participatory planning and design 
  6. Targeted health interventions 
  7. Evidence base, standards & accreditations
  8. High levels of program engagement
  9. OH&S integration
  10. Technology and online programs/content
  11. ROI – assumptions and calculations
  12. Innovative marketing and communication
  13. Evaluation and monitoring
  14. Commitment to ethical business practices
  15. Sustainability 

The Wellbeing Tipping Point

Companies are rapidly implementing Workplace Wellbeing Programmes (WWP) recognising that there is an ethical, societal and financial duty to ensure the welfare of all employees. A number of recent developments are helping raise the profile of these important issues including the Prime Minister’s January 2017 announcement of an independent report on companies actions to support mental health (one of the 5 domains of Wellbeing). Impetus towards change may be similar to that seen in Corporate Responsibility initiatives where traction started in mid-90s to rapidly gaining full effect by early 2000s.

Wellbeing Trends

Regulations around Workplace Wellbeing have become more refined moving from general health and safety legislation to specifying employee health, wellbeing and mental health.  Another drive is the need for organisations to be attractive to millennials. A survey by Deloitte shows nearly 40% of millennials place Workplace Wellbeing as a key priority for senior leadership - by 2025 millennials will make up to 75% of the workforce. 

What you need to know about Menopause

As the number of older women within the workplace is increasing, it appears that the menopause is slowly becoming less of a taboo subject and is increasingly appearing in the media.

The Government Equalities Office produced a report last month considering the effects of the menopause on female employees and the adjustments that should be made within the workplace. The report provides the following guidance on areas where employers can make changes to help employees suffering from menopausal symptoms:

  • Employers to be open to discussing the troublesome symptoms that a female employee may suffer from. Training may need to be provided to managers to ensure that these conversations are handled correctly;
  • Review temperature of the workplace and consider how this can be adapted to suit the needs of the female employee. It may be appropriate to provide a desktop fan, place the employee’s seat near an openable window or away from a heat source;
  • Consider requests for working from home, flexible working hours or shift changes. It may be that later start times are appropriate if employees are suffering from disrupted sleep and/or night sweats.
  • Ensure there is adequate access to clean wash room facilities/toilets and potentially an area for the employees to relax without noise;
  • If the employee is required to wear a uniform, consider whether the material and/or style is appropriate for the female employee and whether you could provide uniform which is lighter and not made from synthetic material.

The report also highlighted the treatment towards female employees from their male colleagues, in particular when they are suffering from a hot flush that consideration is given to whether inappropriate comments could be grounds for discrimination both on the grounds of age and on gender.

Also, depending on the severity of the symptoms of the menopause for a female employee there is the possibility that it may fall within the definition of Disability Discrimination for the purposes of the Equality Act.

It is important that employers keep up to date with the information that is being provided to the female employees so that you do not treat a female employee suffering from the menopause incorrectly and expose yourself to any risk.

Click here to read News Spotlight October 2017

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