Despite affecting over 2 million Americans each year, menopause remains shrouded in stigma, especially in the workplace. Studies show nearly 15% of women have experienced at least one adverse work outcome and 11% have missed work due to menopause symptoms. Because of these negative effects, global productivity losses due to menopause can top $150 billion per year.

As healthcare companies work to close the industry’s pervasive gender pay gap by offering enhanced support and family benefits, they often neglect to address the effects of menopause on their workforce. From providing tailored benefits to fostering age-inclusive workplaces, here’s how the healthcare industry can better support their menopausal employees. 

What is menopause?

While menopause officially happens when someone has gone 12 months without a period, many people with ovaries start experiencing symptoms up to seven years before the cessation of their menstrual cycles, a time period called perimenopause. Because doctors can only confirm a menopause diagnosis retroactively—meaning at least 12 months after someone’s last menstruation—many employees face additional shame and confusion during the perimenopausal years due to new symptoms and little to no support from the traditional healthcare system. 

The most commonly reported symptoms of menopause include:

  • Hot flashes
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Anxiety 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lower confidence and self-esteem
  • Headaches 
  • Joint pain 

The necessity of menopause benefits in the healthcare sector 

Since women make up two-thirds of the global healthcare workforce, the impacts of menopause on working women is especially stark. Nearly 40% of female doctors experiencing menopause have considered leaving their jobs due to physical and mental symptoms, but almost 50% of women are still uncomfortable talking with managers about their symptoms and asking for support. 

While many states require employers to provide sick leave, only 4% of companies specifically include menopause support in their sick leave policies, and only 24% offer menopause benefits outside of sick leave. 

By not offering adequate support, hospitals and healthcare organizations risk worsening the gender pay gap in the field. The majority of women in healthcare have experienced gender-based discrimination, including pay inequity, unequal professional advancement, and gendered workload distribution. Even as they make up 76% of the healthcare workforce, women hold less than 25% of leadership positions. These numbers are more dire for women of color, who make up only 4% of healthcare leaders. 

In recent years, numerous studies have shown how inclusive menopause benefits play a key role in recruiting and retaining top talent, especially in leadership. 

Most employees cite salary and benefits as the top reason to stay at or leave a company. When employees feel supported by their company, they are 5.4 times as likely to stay for a longer tenure. While strong employee retention helps hospitals and healthcare companies in numerous ways—including higher employee morale and better patient experiences—it also plays a major role in their bottom lines. Retaining existing employees is far more efficient than recruiting and onboarding new hires; studies have shown it costs healthcare organizations six to nine months of an employee’s salary to replace them, with this cost increasing to almost 200% of the salary of highly specialized physicians.

Competitive compensation packages and salaries impact nurse and doctor retention, but benefits are also important for employees deciding whether to stay or go. With 93% of healthcare professionals reporting high stress levels, physical and mental health resources are increasingly vital. 

Beyond HRT: Building better menopause & midlife health benefits

Discover how to build comprehensive, holisitic benefits that support employees as they navigate midlife health.

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Beyond HRT: Building better menopause & midlife health benefits

Key components of an effective menopause benefit program in healthcare

While the majority of women want their companies to provide specific benefits related to menstruation and menopause, few healthcare organizations do. Knowing that benefits packages are increasingly important, here’s how to design meaningful, comprehensive benefits for healthcare employees.  

Access to virtual menopause specialists

Over 80% of OB-GYN residents indicate they are barely comfortable discussing or treating menopause . As such, it’s no surprise that many employees seeking treatment for menopause symptoms are told they’re making things up or exaggerating, or can’t find adequate support despite working in the healthcare field.

Providing virtual access to specialized menopause providers can help reduce these gaps in care. Virtual care allows employees to meet on-demand with OB-GYNs, mental health specialists, pelvic floor therapists, nutritionists, and more to help them treat and manage their symptoms. 

Symptom treatment with prescriptions and holistic care

Even if perimenopausal and menopausal employees can overcome all these existing barriers to seeking treatment, they still might not have healthcare coverage for menopause-related treatments and medications. Studies show that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can help mitigate many symptoms by supplementing the estrogen production the body stops making during menopause, but many providers are reluctant to prescribe these medications. 

Employers should enable employees to seek information and education about HRT with speciality providers, and receive a prescription when necessary. However, HRT is just one piece of the puzzle. Comprehensive menopause benefits should extend beyond prescriptions, providing mental health support, nutrition guidance, and other holistic ways to control symptoms. 

Menopause education & community support

Just as most doctors have incredibly limited knowledge about menopause, so do most employees experiencing menopause. While most women agreed menopause should be taught in school, over 80% reported receiving no menopause education. Clinically-vetted education, resources, and community groups are imperative to close that knowledge gap for people of all ages, especially for women over 40, who may already be experiencing symptoms of perimenopause without realizing. 

Midlife health support

In the same way that menopause is not just a women’s issue, the education gap is not just a women’s issue either. While people with ovaries of all genders can experience menopause, symptoms of menopause can also affect cisgender men by affecting their marriages, relationships, and families. Providing education and mental health support is key for this population, as they look for ways to support their partners. 

Many companies opt to expand partner support to include midlife health benefits. These benefits can include prescription support and education for hormonal health. Access to on-demand specialists and reliable content reviewed by experts can help men as they take charge of their midlife health. 

Workplace accommodations & combating stigma

The healthcare industry can support its menopausal employees with intentional workplace accommodations, such as flexible work schedules when possible. Flexible work options including working from home, part-time work, or adjusted hours can help employees manage their symptoms and the accompanying stress. Since many nurses and doctors cannot work from home, breathable scrubs and portable air conditioner units can also help menopausal employees feel more comfortable. 

Despite nearly 20% of women in the workforce experiencing menopause at any given time, they still face significant shame and stigma around asking for accommodations and support. While managers and employers can combat this stigma by talking more openly, it’s also important to provide confidential and private resources, including women’s health resource groups and discreetly-accessible education. Companies can also help their employees by facilitating access to virtual or in-person support groups. 

Implementing menopause benefits: A step-by-step guide for healthcare HR leaders

Implementing new menopause benefits at healthcare organizations may feel like a daunting task, especially on top of existing benefit offerings. Here is a step-by-step guide for hospitals, healthcare companies, and HR leaders: 

Step 1: Conduct employee surveys to understand needs. How do they feel about existing benefits and where are the gaps? For employees experiencing menopause or who may experience menopause, do they understand how to leverage existing benefits and resources for menopause-specific care and education? 

Step 2: Determine objectives for the menopause benefits program. If a goal is expanded education and awareness, conduct surveys before and after rollout. Set goals and metrics for measurement to analyze the efficacy of new benefits on employee morale, retention, and productivity. 

Step 3: Partner with the right providers. For companies seeking to provide more inclusive, cost-effective, and holistic care to women and families, Maven offers comprehensive and evidence-based care. Maven provides on-demand access to a wide range of diverse specialists  including gynecologists, mental health experts, wellness and relationship coaches, nutritionists, and more. 

Step 4: Communicate new benefit offerings to employees. Make sure employees know how to access confidential and private resources and managers are equipped to answer questions. 

Benefiting employees and employers alike

Comprehensive benefits plans that include menopause & midlife care and support can benefit both employees and employers alike. By providing specific benefits and policies that help menopausal employees manage their symptoms at work and at home, healthcare organizations can improve retention, productivity, and morale, leading to lower costs and optimized revenue.

Maven is the complete family health platform for employers seeking to provide more inclusive care to women and families. As the leading platform with specialists trained to support employees through every aspect of menopause, Maven allows healthcare organizations to offer comprehensive and holistic menopause benefits to their employees. Diverse specialists including OB-GYNs, therapists, nutritionists, and coaches are available 24/7/365 to help members understand and address symptoms. 

By offering members high-touch care navigation and specialized care teams, Maven delivers the right care at the right time, all within a seamless virtual experience. To learn more about how Maven can help your healthcare organization build better menopause benefits, contact us today.

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