In October 2022, we introduced Maven Menopause, a specialized program that helps employees better identify and manage symptoms. In the program, employees can connect with a dedicated care advocate and have access to digital appointments with providers, wellness coaches, and provider-moderated groups to connect with others. We’ve also added paid compassionate leave for Workmates experiencing severe symptoms.
Employees Share Their Stories: Tips and Insights for a More Inclusive, Just Workplace
Menopause directly impacts a significant portion of the workforce now, and will impact others in the future. We connected with Workday employees worldwide who’ve been through menopause to learn about their challenges, how they’ve managed this life shift, and what they wish they’d known sooner. Read on for candid and helpful insights.
Julia Gilmour is a regional sales director for large enterprise net new ANZ based in Australia:
Menopause can be a taboo subject that even our mothers, sisters, and women friends don't talk about. I wish I’d had conversations, though, so I knew what was happening when it started for me. Conversations dispel the fears people have about it, and if we educate ourselves then the shame and fear of the unknown goes away.
At a previous employer, I was working on a complex deal. I'd been in perimenopause for a while, but going through a difficult phase. I didn’t feel comfortable asking for support and didn’t want to be marginalized. I had brain fog, hormonal shifts, exceptionally heavy and unpredictable menstruation, and difficulty recalling information as immediately as I'd done in the past.
When I asked my doctor if I could have my hormones checked because I was experiencing menopause symptoms, he joked, “Ask your husband, because he would know if you’d been in a bad mood.” That was a shocking experience that caused me to realize even more the importance of speaking about menopause with sensitivity and kindness rather than brushing it off with dismissive comments. (And it caused me to get a new general practitioner.) If medical providers aren’t taking this seriously, how are people supposed to feel they can bring it up at work?
The loss of immediate recall was a hard adjustment at work, because that's what I’d done in the past and what was expected of me. I needed additional considerations. Having a manager who’s aware of symptoms and encourages you to bring your laptop or notepad to take notes and look up information is helpful, even in casual “hallway conversation” meetings. I can do my job well, and I'm going through a stage of life that I have no control over. That needs to be recognized.
I was impressed when Workday launched a menopause program. I thought, this is an organization that speaks to its values and understands its employees. Having someone who you can talk to about the symptoms, including reduced confidence and imposter syndrome, hormone replacement treatment, challenges with heavy cycles, and more, is helpful.
Marie Cowen is a director of quality assurance for Workday Payroll based in the UK:
When I was a teenager and started having periods, my mom said, “This is one of the things we don't talk about. We definitely don't discuss it with men.” So half of the world's population doesn’t have an open conversation about something that impacts them? It’s time to change that.
That’s why it’s great we’re having this conversation at Workday. We need to talk about this, so people know the impacts. Menopause happens at different times of life and impacts everyone differently. I went through menopause early, just past age 40. I didn't have the emotional impacts typically associated with it; my hormones actually balanced when I hit menopause. But I had extreme breakthrough bleeding for a full summer, which was my body shutting everything down. I was lucky I could work from home at the time because it would have been difficult to go into the office and be worried about people noticing.
Another learning: by the time you get to menopause, it’s too late to invest in your bones. My advice is to talk to your doctor about investing in your bones with calcium-rich food and weight-bearing exercise. Menopause causes drops in estrogen levels and bone density loss. Many women don't realize this until they break a bone, have a scan, and are told they have osteoporosis.
For much of your career, you think menopause is something in the future. You think about your pension plan before you retire, right? Menopause requires preparation, too, to know what it’ll be like and to do what you can to safeguard your body and make the process easier.