Despite affecting over two 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.

Despite making up the vast majority of the factory workforce, women face significant wage inequality and a lack of workplace accommodations. Even when offering enhanced support and family benefits, employers often neglect to address the effects of menopause on their workforce. From providing tailored benefits to fostering age-inclusive workplaces, here’s how manufacturing, shipping, and production companies 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 manufacturing, shipping, and production 

Since industrial work often requires more physical labor, the impacts of menopause on working women is especially stark. One third of menopausal women report missing work due to symptoms. 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. 

Across industries, one in four workers experiencing menopausal symptoms have left or considered leaving their jobs. Although many employees cite menopause as a barrier to promotions, most of them are still uncomfortable talking with employers about their symptoms and asking for support, with 75% of employees reporting they do not feel appropriately supported by their workplaces.

By not offering adequate support, companies risk worsening the stark gender pay and skill gaps in the industrial field. Women of all ages hold only 30% of manufacturing jobs and only one in four manufacturing leaders are women. These numbers are more dire for women of color: Black and Latina women hold less than 9% of manufacturing jobs and are even less represented in managerial and leadership roles.

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 companies in numerous ways—including higher employee morale and better customer experiences—it also plays a major role in their bottom lines. Retaining existing employees is far more efficient for the business than recruiting and onboarding new hires; studies have shown that high employee turnover impacts morale, productivity, and customer satisfaction.

Competitive compensation packages and salaries impact employee retention, but benefits are becoming increasingly important for employees deciding whether to stay or go. According to a 2021 survey, 66% of people said benefits directly impacted whether or not they would stay at a company longer term.

Since the vast majority of employees cite benefit packages as a key factor in choosing their employer, companies must continue to provide support for employees in the ways they’re asking for. And increasingly, employees are demanding menopause-specific benefits, with this support ranking among the top five most requested benefits for employees. 

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 employers do. Knowing that benefits packages are increasingly important, here’s how to design meaningful, comprehensive benefits for industry and factory 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 in their local areas.

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

Manufacturing, shipping, and production companies can support their menopausal employees with intentional workplace accommodations, such as flexible work schedules. While fully remote work may be less feasible for many industry and factory employees, part-time work or adjusted hours can help employees manage their symptoms and the accompanying stress. Portable air conditioner units can also help menopausal employees feel more comfortable, as can more breathable uniforms and PPE specifically designed for women.

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 discreetly-accessible education—as well as employee resource groups, like Willmott Dixon’s “Menopause Cafés”. Even without hosting groups themselves, 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 finance HR leaders

Implementing new menopause benefits at industrial companies may feel like a daunting task, especially on top of existing benefit offerings. Here is a step-by-step guide for industrials 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 companies can improve retention, productivity, and morale, leading to lower healthcare 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 companies 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 company build better menopause benefits, contact us today.

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