Keren Jamieson is a Learning and Development Manager at Alternative Futures Group.
“I have worked at Alternative Futures Group for the last 5 years leading our Learning team. I’m responsible for ensuring we provide the best training and development opportunities for our people and I find my role busy, varied and rewarding.
Over the last few years I started to go through the peri-menopause, and although I had read about it and some friends and family members had spoken to me about what to expect, it’s different when it’s happening to you.
Suddenly I was dealing with uncomfortable physical symptoms (hot flushes and sweats) as well as psychological symptoms like fatigue and brain fog. This quickly started to have a significant impact on how I was feeling and my working day.
There were times where I barely slept and so struggled to think, or I was so overheated that I had to dip my feet in ice cold water during a virtual meeting to cool me down!
Although all organisations have policies on how to support colleagues with the menopause, I am passionate about sharing my own experiences and educating others about what it really means in practice, with ways that people can support themselves and others.
My aim is to create a culture of learning, sharing, and understanding around menopause and the workplace, and I feel I’ve made a positive difference in the following areas
Firstly, a ‘lunch and learn’ session on World Menopause Day was arranged with an external organisation. The aim to give colleagues (both female and male) the opportunity to hear and ask questions directly from the experts at Newson Health, a Menopause and Wellbeing Centre who offers unbiased, evidence-based advice and treatment for perimenopause and menopause.
In the session we encouraged open discussion between participants to share their stories and experiences, and the things that helped them, such as listening to podcasts.
In addition, a new course was made available for staff on our digital learning platform. Titled ‘starting the conversation about the menopause’, this course was open for anyone in the organisation to find practical information and tips about symptoms and treatments.
We have also made a range of guidance, tips, and resources available to staff on our HR platform, as well as free and confidential access to mental health professionals. There’s guidance on raising a concern and how to support a colleague with compassion and empathy, including useful background information like stats on how many women consider leaving a role when they do not feel supported (one in 10!)
Open and honest conversations
One of the other key things I really want to get across is the importance of people having open and honest conversations with their line manager – if people are struggling they should know they can speak to them, or one of AFG’s Mental Health First Aiders.
Looking to the future
Of course, learning is never over and I’m keen to do even more to foster an inclusive culture at work and further support colleagues going through the menopause, and look at how we become an Accredited ‘Menopause Friendly Employer’ in the future.