Almost everyone will experience menopause at some point in their lives, whether directly or indirectly. Over the last few years, Aviva has increasingly recognised the importance of offering support. This week, Aviva will be running a menopause awareness campaign for UK employees. Opening the conversation gives everyone a better chance to bring their whole self to work and feel supported to do so.
Activity will include seminars aimed to support people experiencing menopause and those close to them. Employees are also planning to share their perspective with colleagues.
World Menopause Day, which takes place on 18 October every year, offers the opportunity for employers to break the taboo of talking about menopause in the workplace. Employees aged 45 and over is the fastest growing employee population by age at Aviva. The numbers of women experiencing menopause in the workplace are growing overall.
To build on this, Aviva has launched a menopause support app, by Peppy, freely available to all Aviva UK employees. Accessed through a smartphone app, the support includes a free 45-minute one-to-one phone consultation with a menopause specialist. Employees will also have highly accessible, personalised live chat with a menopause expert through the app, providing reassurance at the touch of a button if people have questions or worries about symptoms or other issues.
Bev Rowles, who works for Aviva’s finance department in Norwich, took part in a pilot run by Peppy earlier this year:
‘I’ve worked at Aviva for some years, I’ve seen many changes but for me, going through the menopause has been a very difficult time.
‘The menopause ‘hit’ me in my fifties, with symptoms that made me feel at times unable to cope with general day-to-day tasks.
‘My phone consultation with a Peppy practitioner felt like I was talking to a friend. We talked about my symptoms and medication and next time I spoke to my doctor, I felt empowered. I knew exactly what needed to be changed and why.
‘I really appreciated having the opportunity to speak to someone else about my symptoms and how they were making me feel.’
This year, Aviva also launched menopause awareness training, aimed at line managers but available for everyone, to better help them support colleagues who may be experiencing menopausal symptons. So far, over 150 leaders have completed the training, which covers what menopause is, why it’s important to talk about it and advice on how to support. Leaders will be encouraged to complete the training as part of this year’s awareness campaign.
Aviva Norwich-based employee Emma Armes, who works in marketing and runs a menopause support group said:
‘I started a face-to-face support group in Norwich a couple of years ago. I now run the group nationally once a month virtually. There are about 180 on my list and growing. Someone I used to work with even discovered she was going through menopause from a novel I lent her!
‘People talk about hot flushes, but there’s much more people don’t talk about. One of the worst things is memory loss. When people learn that’s a symptom, they’re often relieved.’
Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Officer, said:
‘We need to break the taboo of menopause. Most people are familiar with the common, and sadly sometimes still ridiculed, physical symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and night sweats. Less well known are the mental health aspects, including anxiety and difficulty sleeping, which can have a massive impact on performance and self-confidence. So it’s no wonder that one in four women consider leaving work because of menopause – a loss of talent that businesses can prevent.
Menopause need not be a barrier to a continued successful career. An open and empathetic culture, with proper training available for leaders, access to expert advice for individuals and supportive policies like flexible working, will help us better support our people, their partners and families during every stage of their lives.’