Aviva launches new workplace menopause support

Middle aged woman riding a bike

Almost everyone will experience menopause at some point in their lives, whether directly or indirectly. Over the last few years, Aviva has increasingly recognised the importance of offering support. This week, Aviva will be running a menopause awareness campaign for UK employees. Opening the conversation gives everyone a better chance to bring their whole self to work and feel supported to do so.

Activity will include seminars aimed to support people experiencing menopause and those close to them. Employees are also planning to share their perspective with colleagues.

World Menopause Day, which takes place on 18 October every year, offers the opportunity for employers to break the taboo of talking about menopause in the workplace. Employees aged 45 and over is the fastest growing employee population by age at Aviva. Numbers of women experiencing menopause in the workplace are growing overall.

To build on this, Aviva has launched a menopause support app, by Peppy, freely available to all Aviva UK employees. Accessed through a smartphone app, the support includes a free 45-minute one-to-one phone consultation with a menopause specialist. Employees will also have highly accessible, personalised live chat with a menopause expert through the app, providing reassurance at the touch of a button if people have questions or worries about symptoms or other issues.

In this film our people talk about their experiences with the menopause:

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Transcript  for video Menopause Day

The 20 hot flushes a day, procrastination, the nights sweats.

I think I've probably had about 30-34 symptoms.

Tiredness, hot flushes, sleeplessness and things like that.

The menopause, menopause, menopause, and I can't wait till it's over.

Hi, I'm Judith Grange, and I work in the leader advise team, I just felt compelled to talk about the menopause and how I've seen its impact on several of my really close friends and through my job as well.

I'm a team leader in Sheffield. I've got a lady in my team struggling with the menopause at the moment. She has been for quite a while.

I have the pleasure of telling you that I reached a ripe old age of 50 a few months ago in August, and unfortunately at that time, good old menopause hit full on.

The brain fog was just the worst thing, I did silly things, I paid my credit card bill twice, I tried to get out of a car park and realised I hadn't paid.

I had the blood test and my GP said I wasn't menopausal. So I continued to worry every time I

experienced one of the other thirty three symptoms beyond hot flushes that I didn't know anything about. Did I have Alzheimers, cancer, not to mention, generally feeling rubbish with lots of psychological symptoms?

I think what I've really, really found is particularly difficult is the anxiety, the anxiety that some people experience in the real dip in confidence. And that dip in confidence often causes women to step out of senior roles and to, you know, really question their own abilities rather than understanding that they perhaps just need to go to the GP and get some proper help.

This affected lots of things, my anxiety, my job.

I didn't ever speak to anybody at work about it. I thought it was my issue, I got embarrassed, I felt guilty.

After two years of suffering, my doctor told me that my quality of life was suffering and I went on to HRT.

I've now got treatment in the form of HRT gel, counselling. Hypnotherapy, and I've reduced my working days.

I'm still not one hundred percent but things are a lot lot better.

We offer a lot of help which is brilliant.

I think just by being supportive, showing that I care, you know, listening to what she's saying.

I run a menopause group in Norwich because I don't want anybody else to suffer in silence.

We can refer people to the employee assistance program. We can refer people to our group income protection team for support and signposting.

So what I would say about that is, you know, if you are worried or if you see something unusual, then don't make the menopause a word that you can't say. Talk about it. We're going to bust myths about it and about treatments as well.

And also, we want to encourage people to get through it in the best way they can and support them through that.

So let's make it okay to talk about menopause.

Bev Rowles, who works for Aviva’s finance department in Norwich, took part in a pilot run by Peppy earlier this year:

"I've worked at Aviva for some years, I’ve seen many changes but for me, going through the menopause has been a very difficult time.

"My phone consultation with a Peppy practitioner felt like I was talking to a friend."

"The menopause ‘hit’ me in my fifties, with symptoms that made me feel at times unable to cope with general day-to-day tasks.

"My phone consultation with a Peppy practitioner felt like I was talking to a friend. We talked about my symptoms and medication and next time I spoke to my doctor, I felt empowered. I knew exactly what needed to be changed and why.

"I really appreciated having the opportunity to speak to someone else about my symptoms and how they were making me feel."

This year, Aviva also launched menopause awareness training, aimed at line managers but available for everyone, to better help them support colleagues who may be experiencing menopausal symptons. So far, over 150 leaders have completed the training, which covers what menopause is, why it’s important to talk about it and advice on how to support. Leaders will be encouraged to complete the training as part of this year’s awareness campaign.

"People talk about hot flushes, but there's much more people don't talk about."

Aviva Norwich-based employee Emma Armes, who works in marketing and runs a menopause support group said:

"I started a face-to-face support group in Norwich a couple of years ago. I now run the group nationally once a month virtually. There are about 180 on my list and growing. Someone I used to work with even discovered she was going through menopause from a novel I lent her!

"People talk about hot flushes, but there's much more people don't talk about. One of the worst things is memory loss. When people learn that's a symptom, they're often relieved."

Danny Harmer, Aviva’s Chief People Officer, said:

"We need to break the taboo of menopause."

"We need to break the taboo of menopause.  Most people are familiar with the common, and sadly sometimes still ridiculed, physical symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes and night sweats. Less well known are the mental health aspects, including anxiety and difficulty sleeping, which can have a massive impact on performance and self-confidence. So it’s no wonder that one in four women consider leaving work because of menopause - a loss of talent that businesses can prevent. 

"Menopause need not be a barrier to a continued successful career.  An open and empathetic culture, with proper training available for leaders, access to expert advice for individuals and supportive policies like flexible working, will help us better support our people, their partners and families during every stage of their lives."


Media Enquiries

Heleana Greeves

Group Financial and Corporate Communications

Joe Booth

Financial Communications

Notes to editors:

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