Julie Cridland: What benefits do you offer to support employees through the menopause?


I have spent the last four years working with incredibly brave women, listening and learning how to support them to thrive through their menopause. As a result of their input, the support community we have built at Aster through trust, openness and action has made a huge positive difference to the working and personal lives of our people.

Menstrual health has a huge impact on any workforce, whether a person is experiencing the menopause themselves, or supporting someone else through it. We have a number of ongoing initiatives for colleagues in this situation, and for those who just want to be better informed.

We have emergency packs in all of our office bathrooms containing sanitary wear, freshening wipes and other toiletries. We also provide USB fans to help anyone experiencing hot flushes as a standard stationery item. This ensures that they do not have to go through the stress of ordering products themselves, and can rest assured that the provisions are there if they need them.

We also run a successful ‘Hot Topic’ forum, which is a safe space where colleagues can share their experiences of menopause, access good-quality information and support each other. This community is underpinned by regular opportunities to come together through informative sessions and exercise programmes, often run by specialists including Menohealth. We also run monthly ‘sofa sessions’, for which we invite guest speakers to discuss personal stories and experiences of the menopause and explore topics including how to cope with symptoms, nutrition, exercise and hormone replacement therapy.

It is really important to us that we foster a workplace where colleagues feel willing and able to discuss the menopause and how it affects them. This makes it essential that the support we offer is not just for those who physically experience menopause. Educating colleagues is fundamental to creating an open and inclusive culture, which is why for four years now we have been running awareness training for those who want it, with dedicated sessions for line managers. We are also really focused on ensuring that our transgender and non-binary colleagues are included in the conversation as well and feel just as empowered as everybody else.

Julie Cridland is health and wellbeing lead at Aster Group