Menstruation and Menopause at Work - Half of all Workplaces Lack the Features Needed to Manage Pain and Discomfort

5 Minutes

•78% of people whose hormonal symptoms are eased by having a place to lie down lack the faci...

•78% of people whose hormonal symptoms are eased by having a place to lie down lack the facilities to do so in their workplace. •Hormonal fluctuations span a whole career. Over 50% of people say conditions associated with menstruation have greatest impact on them, versus 35% for menopause. •Fresh air, comfortable seating, natural daylight, temperature and light-controls, and focus rooms were all identified as attractive workplace features. The inclusive design company, Motionspot, surveyed 2,000 office workers who experience menstruation or menopause to explore the optimal workplace design for this sizeable segment of the workforce. Concerningly, the results reveal that despite many changes being relatively simple to implement, they are absent from a significant number of workplaces. Nearly half (48%) of respondents do not have access to the feature they identify as most useful to manage their pain and discomfort at work. The most common unavailable feature in respondents’ workplaces is a place to lie down (78%); second is a hot bath and shower (both 66%); third is a dark or dimly lit space (60%).ii The data also shows that the lack of facilities to aid the management of pain and discomfort associated with hormonal change is not limited to people experiencing “the menopause”. Many people experiencing other hormonal fluctuations are also affected. While 35% of respondents report that their hormones are most impacted by conditions associated with “the menopause”, for 53% of people it is conditions associated with menstruation that have the greatest impactiii. These include PMS (premenstrual syndrome (19%), PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) (6%), endometriosis and PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) (both 5%), pregnancy (4%), miscarriage, and chest-feeding/expressing (both 3%), and IVF (in vitro fertilisation) (2%). Mariella Frostrup, broadcaster, columnist, creator of BBC1’s The Truth about Menopause, Chair of Menopause Mandate, and Co-Founder of The Women In Work Summit said of the findings: "The imperative place of women in our workplaces is unquestionable but the inequity caused by our differing biology remains almost entirely unaddressed. From menstruation to fertility issues, parenthood and menopause, there is a strong correlation between women’s health and workforce participation. Employers have a crucial role to play. Without robust policies, inclusively designed workplaces, and a strong cultural mandate, the failings will continue— women will leave the workforce and the bottom line will suffer.” Pareisse Wilson, Inclusive Design Strategy Lead at Motionspot, commented: “There is a substantial overlap of desired workplace features for people experiencing hormonal fluctuations and people with neurodivergent conditions related to sensory modulation. We hope these insights encourage organisations to engage with their employees— and their full spectrum of intersectionalities— to create happy and healthy working environments that enable everyone to thrive. The progressive organisations that embrace inclusive design will enjoy improved productivity, performance, and staff retention, and become the top choice for workers at every age and career stage.” Inclusive workplace features For office workers who experience menstrual symptoms, fresh air is the most common feature that would attract them to work more days in their current workplace (37%), increasing to 41% for people experiencing peri/menopause. This is followed by comfortable desk seating (30%), natural light (28%), a private room to decompress (25%), temperature-controlled spaces (19% vs 28% for peri/menopausal people), and more focus rooms with less distractions (19%). Specific insights from respondents include: •“Shower facilities with a private and secure changing and showering space would make a huge difference as someone with a heavy flow, because the cleaner I feel the more productive I am.” •“A quiet room to just go and sit for 10 mins to massage my tummy when I have pain.” •“Screens between desks for privacy to hide hot flushes.” •“More open space so that I can move freely to help with moments of discomfort.” •“Spaces to emote.” The impact The impact of the negative effects of hormonal fluctuations on both employers’ and employees’ productivity, efficiency, and financial outcomes cannot be underestimated given that: •61% of respondents say their mood is affected at work •58% find their concentration at work is impacted by hormonal variations •44% face fatigue •35% feel teary at work •29% deal with pain 43% of peri/menopausal people suffer brain fog and 65% struggle with concentration, both of which are significantly more than the 18% and 51% of non-peri/menopausal respondents who said the same respectively. Accessible design features in Motionspot client projects (contact Motionspot for high-res versions) Motionspot’s inclusive design team Motionspot’s team of inclusive designers are experienced in helping businesses to design beyond minimum design standards and building regulations to create an environment that considers the entire spectrum of protected human characteristics and identities. Organisations can discuss their inclusive design requirements with Motionspot's inclusive design experts by emailing or calling 020 3735 5139. Read more articles like this in The Financial Technologist. Download your free copy here.

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