By Kirsty Duffin, Recruitment Consultant, Commercial & Administration at Escape
October is World Menopause month, an occasion to spotlight an essential phase in many women's lives. And, as it turns out today, the 20th of October, we indulge in the sweetness of Office Chocolate Day. While the two might not seem connected at first, there is a link that underscores how small things can make a big difference, especially for the c13 million people in the UK currently experiencing perimenopause or menopause.
The Sweet Connection: Menopause is an often under-discussed and significant life transition that brings its share of challenges which can include anxiety, depression, hot flushes, irritability, fatigue and sleep disturbance and mood swings, as well as unpredictable menstrual cycles.
With fluctuations in hormones during this period impacting mood, energy levels, and even sugar cravings,1 many find themselves drawn to sugary treats during these times and, it seems, chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, can be a valuable ally.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants and contains compounds that trigger the release of endorphins in the brain, which can improve mood. Additionally, it provides a quick source of energy due to its sugar content and theobromine2. Both cacao powder and cacao nibs are also rich in magnesium which reportedly reduces hot flushes and night sweats.3
Now, you might wonder, how does this connect to Office Chocolate Day? Well, it shows that the presence of something, like enjoying a piece of chocolate in the workplace can be more than just a delightful treat and could make a positive difference, something that can offer a quick, mood-lifting energy boost when needed most and it can also act as a nice way to bring up a more sensitive topic as we’ve hopefully done here!
Beyond Chocolate: Supporting Women in the Workplace: But of course, while Office Chocolate Day can provide a delightful excuse for a chocolatey treat, there are larger, much more impactful and important ways to create a supportive environment for women navigating menopause in the workplace. And with 45% of women feeling their menopause symptoms have a negative impact on their work4 and a 2016 survey reporting 25% of women going through the menopause had even considered leaving work because of their experiences 5 it’s important that employers do so.
Here are some suggestions:
- Flexible Work Arrangements: Offering flexibility in work hours or remote work options can help women manage their changing energy levels and symptoms more effectively.
- Educational Workshops: Organise informational sessions on menopause and its effects. These can help colleagues understand the challenges and offer empathy and support.
- Well-being Spaces: Create dedicated quiet spaces where women can take short breaks to relax and recharge.
- Healthy Snack Options: Offer a variety of healthy snacks in the office to support overall well-being
- Mental Health Support: Encourage open discussions on mental health and stress management, as menopause can be emotionally taxing.
- Appoint a Menopause Champion: this is someone who can provide the right support at the right level to those who may need it.
- Audit your existing policies and procedures: Make sure your policies don’t unintentionally create barriers for employees during this stage of their life6
Empathy and Inclusion: This October, let's foster a workplace that is inclusive and empathetic, supporting all its members, irrespective of the phase they are going through.
So, happy Office Chocolate Day, and here's to supporting one another in every phase of life!