Renfrewshire Council

Menopause support shows 'we listen and care'

As World Menopause Awareness Month draws to a close, our assistant facilities manager, Susan Allan applauds the impact of new initiatives to dispel the menopause taboo.

We know it can feel daunting to talk about menopause, especially at work, so our approach has focused on creating a culture where you feel confident to discuss what's happening and know we have a dedicated support structure in place.  

Our managers are vital to making these discussions a positive experience and there's lots they can do to help you cope with menopause in the workplace. We spoke to assistant facilities manager, Susan Allan to find out how our new menopause policy, training and initiatives have enhanced how she supports her team and others across the service.  

Susan said, "As a woman of a certain age, I have been a cheerleader for menopause support and applaud our organisation for taking steps to and provide training and clear guidance on how we can help our workforce.  

"So many colleagues I've spoken to are now more aware of the impact of menopause symptoms both at work and in people's personal lives. All the videos, iLearn modules, interactive RenTalks sessions and posters have been brilliant and to be honest, even though I have been experiencing some symptoms myself for some time, there have been a few lightbulb moments, especially about some of the more physical aspects associated with the hormone changes.  

"More than 70% of our Soft Facilities Management team are women within the menopausal age range working a variety of shifts in our schools, community centres and halls. I look after cleaning, catering,  janitorial and caretaking colleagues at 19 sites across Erskine, Bishopton, Houston, Gryffe, Inchinnan and Bridge of Weir. 

As a manager, what has been the impact of having a menopause policy in place?  

"Before we had this new clear structure around supporting menopause, I had to rely on sharing some of my own experiences, signposting to websites I thought were useful and suggesting local groups to consider. Now I can talk to colleagues about what we can do as an employer, I can highlight all the information available on our own website and show them the many ways we can make small changes to help and offer the flexibility of dedicated leave if its needed. It reassures people that what they're going through has been taken seriously, we're listening, and as an organisation, we actually care. 

How has this impacted workplace culture? 

"Conversations are starting to be more open, more male colleagues are talking to me about how they can support their teams and wellbeing and mental health are more everyday topics of discussion. As a mental health first aider, this is exactly what I want to see.  

What would you like to see next in our approach to supporting menopause? 

I'd love to see more opportunities for people to talk to each other about what they're going through. I know Fiona Sinclair in our HR & OD team is developing a menopause network so I'm looking forward to getting involved in that. It would also be useful for managers to have a forum or platform where we can share best practice, possibly around wellbeing in general, or ways to improve people's awareness of the support available at the council. I've added my feedback to the menopause survey, and I'd like to remind colleagues to have their say too before it closes on Friday 10 November.  

You can complete the menopause survey here

Full details of our menopause support are available on the council's staff info webpages. 

Published on Friday 27 October 2023