Jane Fowler - Head of Customer Support Services
Yesterday marked a year since we saw our normal way of life turned completely on its head in ways that we would previously have thought unimaginable with the first COVID lockdown. Many of our friends, relatives and colleagues have struggled with loss, mental and physical illness and separation from loved ones during this time. Everyone has experienced a different COVID pandemic, which makes it all the more important that each of us make time to listen to and support one another. Part of today’s Wellbeing Wednesday is on our theme of financial wellbeing, which has affected many people during the pandemic, and it gives some advice and guidance on debt awareness.
Whilst many people have found COVID very difficult, we have heard from lots of you about creative ways you have spent your time, making new online connections, trying out new skills and hobbies, so let’s remember to acknowledge and celebrate these, and hold onto them as we move into the next phase of our COVID lives. This week I am celebrating getting my first dose of the COVID vaccination – with no ill effects!
Our other theme today is one that affects over half of our population and will at some time affect around 75% of our workforce, as we have more female than male employees. The menopause has been a taboo subject for generations, so more openness about it, and better understanding of the sometimes severe physical symptoms women experience can only be welcome. As a post-menopausal woman, I have tried to look for the positives in this change and a helpful colleague spotted this quote, which I really like ‘The Menopause can have a positive impact on your life as well; for one thing, not all physical changes caused by reduced female hormone levels are negative - many of the emotional and social changes can actually be energising. ’ So on that note, let’s move forward into spring energised!!!
22 - 28 March is Debt Awareness Week
While this might not be the most entertaining of wellbeing topics, it is an opportunity to think about positive ways in which we might be able to improve our financial wellbeing.
From 22 March the debt charity Step Change are running a series of activities across social media, forums and websites, as well as working with bloggers and celebrities. Which you can find out more about at their website.
Being able to talk more openly about debt-related issues can help to relieve stress and anxiety that might build up around this and Step Change Debt Charity have partnered with the Mental Health Foundation to set up a wellbeing programme called 7 days and 7 ways to deal with debt.
COVID has affected all of our finances differently, and as you will likely have read recently, though we are weathering the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. For some it has brought financial insecurity while for some others it has provided a reprieve from some household outgoings. If your finances have been negatively affected by COVID you can find advice on steps you can take at the Step Change website and at the Money Advice Service.
If you are looking to make positive changes to help your finances, you may want to consider products offered by ScotWest credit union. As a ‘not for profit’ organisation they claim to provide ethical, competitive and fair financial services. You can access further information on their website or via The Hub.
Your employee assistance programme Health Assured also have a wide range of financial wellbeing assistance including financial assessments, legal and financial support and webinars on money worries, dealing with debt and debt support.
If you could do with some ways to save on your food shopping you might appreciate food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Munroe’s website cooking on a bootstrap. Also don’t forget the Money Saving Expert a mine of useful information and always reminding us not to just accept that renewal quote!
Menopause in the workplace
The menopause is a natural part of the female aging process and will be different for every woman. There are a range of symptoms related to the menopause, some of which may not be immediately obvious and others which can be particularly challenging to deal with, especially while at work. Many women may feel uncomfortable talking about these issues with their colleagues and/or their line manager.
Information about the menopause is not just for women. As a male manager and a colleague, it is important that you understand some of the issues that can affect female members in your team and be able to provide sympathetic support where required.
Did you know?
- Menopause normally occurs between the ages of 45 and 55 although it can occur at any time up to a woman’s mid-60s
- The average age for a woman to reach the menopause in the UK is 51
- Symptoms usually last between 4 and 8 years (yes really!)
- 20-25% of women suffer from hot flushes which adversely affect their quality of life
- Around 75-80% of women of menopausal age are working
- Approximately 1 in 3 British workers are over the age of 50.
So, there are a lot of potentially menopausal women in the workplace and around 75% of them will experience at least some symptoms, while 25% will experience severe symptoms. If a woman does not get the help and support they need at work, it is increasingly likely that the effects of the menopause could lead to them feeling ill, losing confidence in their ability to do their job, suffer from mental health conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression and in severe cases, consider leaving their job.
It is vital that as an employer we acknowledge and understand the impact of the menopause on employees and provide guidance and support for women affected by it. The Council has recently launched a Guide to the Menopause for managers and employees which provides useful information on the impact of menopausal symptoms on women at work. It contains suggestions about how managers and colleagues can provide support, where required, as well as some useful contacts for further information and advice. You can find this here.
If you are struggling to deal with the menopause there is lots of help and advice available, such as MenopauseMatters and Menopause - NHS (www.nhs.uk)
The employee assistance programme Health Assured is also available for advice and support.
We really value your feedback, so please get in touch and don’t forget to send us your book reviews or recommendations, as well as any other suggestions for future wellbeing topics.
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