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Exploring How Service Design Can Support Organisations in Addressing the Needs of Employees Experiencing Menopause Lisa Baker, Dr Kulsum Janmohamed Rampling, Alice Kennedy

By: Lisa Baker | Tags: Service Design

Menopause is a natural biological transition that marks a significant stage in a woman's life. Yet, despite its universality, the challenges women face during this period are often overlooked, particularly in the workplace. Menopausal women are the fastest-growing demographic in the workforce, so it is crucial to have open communication about menopause in the workplace. Menopause comes with a complex and wide-ranging list of symptoms that can affect a woman's focus and performance. Due to this complexity, it is important to consider that there may not be a universal solution that suits all women, as their needs and preferences may vary. Recent studies have highlighted a lack of support for women experiencing menopause symptoms while on the job. According to a survey commissioned by the British Menopause Society, among 1,000 adults in the UK, it was revealed that 45% of women reported experiencing negative effects on their work due to menopausal symptoms. Additionally, 47% of those who had to take a day off work due to these symptoms indicated that they would not disclose the true reason to their employer. Unfortunately, there remains a stigma surrounding discussions about menopause, leading to many women enduring symptoms in silence that can impact their overall well-being, both physically and mentally. Supporting menopausal women enhances operational efficiency and process effectiveness. Therefore, it is both ethical and beneficial commercially to address the needs of employees going through menopause.

A woman wearing black stands in front of a yellow wall

Using Service Design to Map Menopause

In today's digital age, we are inundated with information, making it challenging to sift through all the noise and extract the necessary information. Navigating menopause poses unique challenges due to its retrospective diagnosis, typically confirmed after 12 consecutive months without menstruation. This delayed recognition contributes to a lack of awareness about the extensive range of symptoms associated with menopause. Moreover, societal stigma and embarrassment, coupled with the misconception that menopause is a natural aspect of ageing, often leave women to independently manage symptoms in the workplace without adequate support structures. In the midst of all this overwhelming information, service design emerges as a powerful tool to help organisations cut through the noise and solve complex problems. Service design provides a structured approach to apply human-centred design, co-creation and hearing everyone’s voices, including those less likely to be heard, and continuous improvement principles to address the challenges and meet the diverse needs of individuals and communities.

At Mima, we apply service design to complex problems which creates more inclusive and supportive environments for organisations. Dr Kulsum Janmohamed Rampling, a consultant in Public Health Medicine, General Practitioner (GP) and menopause specialist has previously highlighted that "Women’s health is important and it is our duty to be considered in our approach and to continually try to ensure that we achieve our promise to do no harm. When it comes to our ability to provide appropriate medical care, there’s always been something about menopause, and it needs to change. We teamed up with Dr Kulsum Janmohamed Rampling in a workshop to map the patient and healthcare practitioners (HCP) experience of menopause.

Alice Kennedy of Mima works through the notes from the workshop mapping the patient and healthcare practitioners (HCP) experience of menopause.

During the workshop, Dr Kulsum Janmohamed Rampling shed light on the gaps in understanding and access to menopause care. It became evident that menopause is not well-taught to GPs, as many NHS practitioners do not actively promote menopause services. Moreover, some GPs hesitate to prescribe Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) to patients under 45 years old, deeming them 'too young' for such treatment. Additionally, NHS GP menopause services face challenges of being over-subscribed, indicating a significant demand for comprehensive menopause care that is currently unmet within the healthcare system. These insights underscore the urgent need for improved education, awareness, and accessibility to menopause services for both healthcare providers and patients. Organisations must also play their part in supporting employees within this complex ecosystem.

Workshop insights shaped our ongoing menopause service blueprint, highlighting current healthcare challenges and examining how organisations can actively contribute to bridging these gaps and providing essential support to employees experiencing menopause.

What can organisations do to support the needs of employees experiencing menopause

  • Develop and enact a Women’s Health policy, which should include a dedicated section focused on menopause support along with other women's health issues. This helps ensure that employees experiencing symptoms receive the necessary support, accommodations, and understanding in the workplace. It promotes inclusivity, diversity, and equality by recognising and addressing the specific needs of menopausal employees. Additionally, it helps organisations foster a supportive and empathetic work environment, where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered to manage their health effectively. At Mima, our own Women’s Health policy covers menopause, menstruation, breastfeeding and expressing, and endometriosis. We recognise the intersectional nature of menopause experiences and the need for inclusive support initiatives that cater to the diverse needs of our employees. Organisations should address any potential barriers to access and participation, including cultural differences, language barriers, and unconscious bias.

  • Encourage open dialogue and communication channels where employees feel comfortable discussing their menopause experiences and seeking assistance when needed. Remember, they are your lived experience users and they will likely have great ideas of how to improve menopause support within your organisation. Line managers play a crucial role in effectively supporting any team members going through menopause, which can positively impact team morale, talent retention, and sickness absence rates. The CIPD has a great resource on their website - Menopause at work: Guide for people managers6. At Mima, we advocate for utilising a service blueprint to facilitate collaborative workshops involving menopausal employees, HR professionals, managers, and other stakeholders. This approach allows identifying pain points and opportunities for improvement, leading to the co-creation of supportive work environments.

  • Service design methodologies can also be used to continuously monitor and improve menopause support services within the organisation. This may involve collecting feedback from menopausal employees, analysing data on the effectiveness of support initiatives, and iteratively refining policies and practices based on evolving needs. Moving forward, organisations could extend this co-creative process to encompass a range of women's health issues beyond menopause. By employing service design principles, organisations can address the universal healthcare needs of women, including menstrual health, reproductive health, endocrine health, and other issues. Creating supportive environments for women at various life stages can help tackle the stigma surrounding women's health.

  • Consider the specific needs of menopausal women when conducting risk assessments in the workplace. Prioritise making changes to the environment that can help ease their symptoms. This could mean offering flexible work options, adjusting temperature and lighting, improving ventilation, selecting comfortable uniform materials, providing ergonomic furniture, and ensuring access to menopause-friendly facilities. In this way, organisations can enhance comfort and support the well-being of menopausal employees.

In conclusion, the journey through menopause presents unique challenges that are often overlooked or misunderstood. The retrospective diagnosis of menopause, coupled with societal stigmas and misconceptions, leaves many women navigating this phase independently, especially in the workplace.

Service design is a powerful tool for organisations to address these challenges and create supportive environments. Through structured approaches like workshops and service blueprints, we can better understand the gaps in menopause care and actively work towards bridging them. By embracing these initiatives, organisations can not only support menopausal employees but also foster a culture of empathy, respect, and inclusivity in the workplace, ensuring that every individual feels valued and supported throughout their menopausal journey. Collectively we can create workplaces where menopause is openly discussed and becomes a catalyst for positive change.


1 NHS Inform – Access available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/womens-health/later-years-around-50-years-and-over/menopause-and-post-menopause-health/menopause-and-the-workplace/

2 Kopenhager T., Guidozzi F. Working women and the menopause. Climacteric J. Int. Menopause Soc. 2015;18:372–375.

3 D'Angelo S et al. Impact of Menopausal Symptoms on Work: Findings from Women in the Health and Employment after Fifty (HEAF) Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Dec 24;20(1):295.

4 British Menopause Society – Access available at: https://thebms.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/BMS-Infographics-JANUARY-2023-WomansRelationshipwithMenopause.pdf

5 Rampling KJ, BJGP Life, 2022. There’s something about menopause – Access available at: https://bjgplife.com/theres-something-about-menopause/

6 CIPD - Guidance for managers on how to support employees through the menopause. Access available at: https://www.cipd.org/uk/knowledge/guides/menopause-people-manager-guidance/

Written by:

Photo of Lisa Baker

Lisa Baker
Principal Human Factors Consultant

Lisa is a Chartered Ergonomist with 15 years of experience across various industries, including healthcare, transport, culture and heritage. Lisa specialises in bridging human factors and design research to create innovative and sustainable services and experiences, grounded in evidence.