Empowering Women and Businesses through Menopause Conversations

Hosted by

Steve Boese

Co-Founder of H3 HR Advisors and Program Chair, HR Technology Conference

Trish Steed

CEO and Principal Analyst, H3 HR Advisors

About this episode

Empowering Women and Businesses through Menopause Conversations

Hosts: Steve BoeseTrish Steed

Guest: Shelly MacConnell, Chief Strategy Officer of WINFertility

This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex, one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. After years of being in survival mode amidst a global pandemic, HR leaders have been challenged to get back to business — ushering in the era of the dynamic workplace. In our 7th Annual Pulse of HR Report, find out how these leaders are optimizing the work experience regardless of where it’s done, addressing widening generational gaps, and increasing productivity not just for their employees, but also themselves. Visit paychex.com/awia to check it out, today.

This week we met with Shelly MacConnell from WINFertility about the importance of addressing menopause in the workplace.

– Importance of normalizing being open about menopause at work

– The intersection of menopuase and healthcare

– Impact of menopause on productivity

– How to be inclusive in your workplace


Thank you for joining the show today!  Remember to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts!

Transcript follows:

Announcer 0:00
Welcome to At Work in America, sponsored by Paychex. At Work in America digs in behind the headlines and trends to the stories of real people making a difference in the world of work. And now here are your hosts, Steve Boese and Trish Steed.

Steve 0:27
Welcome back to the At Work in America show we have a great show today Trish, we are going to be talking about menopause. I can’t believe Trish and 14 years of doing this show. I don’t believe we’ve ever talked about this subject. Do you remember us ever talking about it before?

Trish 0:46
No, not that specifically. I think we’ve talked about women’s issues, you know, many times and certainly, maybe certain components that could be part of menopause, but never just a whole show dedicated to it. So I’m actually really excited that we’re going to.

Steve 1:02
I am as well, it’s an important topic. I have learned a lot already in the prep for the show. And I’m sure we’re going to all learn a lot more once we welcome our guests to the show here in second before we welcome her Trish. I want to thank our friends at Paychex. This episode of At Work in America is sponsored by Paychex one of the leading providers of HR, payroll, retirement, and insurance solutions for businesses of all sizes. After years of being in survival mode amidst a global pandemic HR leaders have been challenged to get back to business ushering in the era of a dynamic workplace. In the seventh annual Pulse of HR report, you can find out how these leaders are optimizing the work experience regardless of where it’s done, addressing widening generational gaps and increasing productivity not just for their employees, but also themselves. Please visit Paychex.com/awia to check out the Pulse of HR report today. And I really do encourage folks to do that. It’s a great report.

Steve 1:58
All right. Let’s welcome our guest Trish. Our guest is Shelly MacConnell. She is a FEM Tech strategist, a women’s health proponent, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion advocate and employee benefits expert and is currently the Chief Strategy Officer for WIN. In that capacity. She is responsible for developing wins business strategy, including innovation alignment with external branding, communications, marketing operations, handle partners, product partnerships, and acquisitions. And she most recently served as senior vice president AON and has more than 25 years experience in benefits consulting. Welcome, Shelly to the show. How are you today?

Shelly MacConnell 2:39
Very good. Thank you, Steve and Trish for having me excited to talk about menopause today.

Trish 2:44
I mean, we would love to just maybe dive into a little bit of your story and how you know how that that diverse, wealthy background has turned into sort of, you know, being an expert when it comes to talking about some of these specific issues that impact women in the workplace, because these are things that at least in my almost 30 years of being in the workforce are things we’ve not really talked about at work. So could you maybe just give us some background on on yourself and how that came to be of interest to you?

Shelly MacConnell 3:16
Well, yeah, happy to. And I will also say that in my 25, nearly 30 years, it often has did not come up either. So I think these things factor in together. But my background was helping employers large and jumbo employers design their benefit programs for employees. And in that capacity, as family building in particular came to prominence. I developed an expertise in that to help our clients across the country in strategizing around their programs and building it. And at the same time, of course, that the Venn diagram overlaps very strongly to diversity, equity inclusion, but of course, there’s a lot about diversity, equity inclusion that is not included in family building. So I also have an interest in diversity, equity inclusion across all definitions and bringing, understanding inequity to our employee benefit programs that employers are offering and many of these disparities have been invisible to employers. And so bringing light to some of these to help organizations become more effective, and to create more inclusive cultures is is a passion project and, and of course, so it’s Fabtech. So, that is some of what leads me to be here today. But I recall the first time that a co worker told me during the meeting, that she was having a hot flash and needed to take a break. And it was shocking. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it. I’ve never heard anyone say it in the workplace. I’ve begun to Hear it a little bit more, but it’s still something people don’t talk about. And you know, even the small impact of people who, even as we’ve moved more to a video environment, a woman having a hot flash, during a video call where it’s up close and personal is, is an interesting issue. And something I think sometimes people aren’t sensitive to impart because they’re not aware of it. We don’t talk about it just as a small example. But I agree with you, it has been largely undiscussed, and that is part of the problem that we’re helping to try to solve.

Trish 5:33
I really appreciate sort of your perspective on on just how we’re thinking about this. And one thing, maybe even before we dive in, because I know, we’ve got lots of different sort of facts and figures to share around this topic, but I’d be really curious just to hear your perspective on, you know, as, as a woman growing up, my mother never talked about menopause, or really any sort of, you know, feminine related needs. And I don’t think her mother talked with her, do you think that that is something that’s quite common? And maybe that’s why we’re, we’re not even as women going through different phases of our life? That were sort of holding it in maybe because we’ve not been talked to? Or is there another reason, maybe underlying that we need to get to first?

Shelly MacConnell 6:25
I think that is one of them, certainly, and I think there were a few other cultural things, as well, I think your upbringing, and the fact that we just didn’t talk about things in any great detail, which is changing in our younger generations, with our children, and others who are much more open talking about almost everything. And so I think that the world is changing, in part with younger generations. But we also have, I think, left some of our true selves out of our work. And so if this didn’t come at, at home, it certainly was not discussed at work, where I think there’s just more gender neutrality and things that are gender specific, are not always welcomed or discussed at work, another trend that I think is changing, and then just culturally, there’s, I think there’s a stigma to it. And there is a negativity to the idea that someone is getting older, right? We are very youth centric. But also it’s almost insulting to a person that they are not as, like their fertility and their youth is past is something that as a culture, there are some underlying negativities about it. Again, I think this is beginning to change, right? As we see people who have a lot of social influence, and we see Oprah and Michelle Obama and some of our media stars, talking about this openly, it begins to change the dialogue. And that is what I think we are seeing in this transition. There are a lot of business impacts to that. I think we’ll get to but just culturally, there’s been a lot that has kept this quiet and not discussed, personally or at work.

Steve 8:27
Surely, thank you. And I think there’s a really interesting kind of intersection, right? It’s I think, I’m, I am sort of thinking about this through my own lens a little bit, but I am I think, I think it’s important because I sort of fit the profile, I believe, of the corporate middle aged guy who much like Trish mentioned, right, didn’t have a lot of conversations about this growing up, I’m guessing I have fewer even than you did finish, I think all all of maybe zero, right? And so honestly, new, almost still to this day, I’m not sort of proud, I’m not proud to admit this, I know almost nothing about this until prepping for this show, right in the last couple of days. And since I knew we were going to do it, and I still know almost nothing, right? But I’m that profile in many organizations, right? Have that organizational leader or that VP or that CEO, that business owner, who’s got lots of folks on the staff, lots of women who are being impacted by this. And I as a leader, I as a person don’t know anything, right? I mean, I’m so ignorant. And I think that’s a problem in itself. Surely, I’d love for you to maybe give us a little context around the breadth of the problem because like I said, as a guy growing up in this country anyway, I don’t know. I have no comprehension of it.

Shelly MacConnell 9:51
And not just those of us who are just living in the world, but also our provider community. So Um, you know, too many women are facing what is a frustrating search for menopause care. And many women don’t even know that it’s available. So this kind of lack of research and funding and specialized training in the market has led to women being misdiagnosed, untreated, underserved, just from a healthcare standpoint, forget about bringing it into the workplace. So the a pretty did a study, and it showed that 80% of graduating internal medicine residents, so those are the people who provide often adult primary care, don’t feel competent to treat or even discuss menopause. And when you look at OB GYN, specifically about 20% of residency programs offer menopause training, and even then it’s not necessarily mandatory. So when you hear that half of us OBGYN residents felt like they needed more education on at least medication. And patients say, it’s much more than that. It’s much more than 50% that need additional education, people are not feeling heard and seen and like they are getting the appropriate care. So a yield study showed that 75% of women who seek help for significant menopause symptoms, don’t receive it. 75% seek it, of those that seek it, do not receive it. These are very significant numbers and really show an opportunity for our our healthcare and the programs that surround it to do better.

Trish 11:55
Yeah, it’s such a large number. It’s shocking. And in one aspect of that, it’s also not shocking, right? Because I think to just as someone who’s gone through it, and to see if to your point, men aren’t taught about this. Women aren’t taught about this. We don’t really know what we’re even going through when we’re starting to go through it. Often. You’ll talk to your friends, and they’re like, Yeah, I don’t know, maybe maybe we’re in it, maybe we’re not right, you kind of know about the age maybe. But it does feel very isolating. And, and kind of just reading even prior to this show prep. It was like, you know, women were often thought of as being hysterical. They were prescribed just being hysterical, right? When when they would have whether it’s hot flashes or mood changes, or, you know, I had I went through a phase of vertigo. And it turns out that’s very common. going through menopause. I didn’t know I thought I thought I had a brain tumor. Right. So like, I mean, this is modern day, and yet we have highly educated even women who don’t know, what even makes up this kind of Is it a is it considered a disease, a condition?

Shelly MacConnell 13:07
I don’t just, it’s not. But it certainly is, you know, a stage that can last a long time. Right? This can be a 10 year or more period of time, where you will be transitioning into it. So you’re in perimenopause, and then you go into menopause, which will be you know, further postmenopausal for the rest of your life. So it’s a big timeframe as well, and what you’re talking about this kind of symptomology, where you might have, people often have heart palpitations, they think they have a heart condition or off to a cardiologist. And maybe that cardiologist identifies it as being part of menopause, and maybe not maybe go through a bunch of testing, et cetera. There are many different symptoms that people are completely unaware of. It if you think about it, menopause is you know, a hormonal change and as estrogen decreases in perimenopause and menopause, estrogen has an anti inflammatory impact. And so inflammation in the body can increase and lead to joint pain can lead to congenital bone issues that never bothered someone. Now coming to light it’s not just wear and weight and other things that people talk about is the in the inflammatory impact. So people understanding this and getting to the right treatments more quickly, are helpful to them to a workplace to a cost standpoint, all of these things so when you think about musculoskeletal if you’ve gone in to the doctor because of particular pains. It’s not often that there’s a correlation made to menopause and perimenopause in The treatment of those conditions. So there’s a lot of opportunity here.

Trish 15:04
Yeah. Although I admit I have never really thought about addressing this as a workplace issue. So I am glad that you’re both helping to educate Steven I am and the listeners, but also to maybe even start thinking creatively about what we as business leaders can be doing to help because again, I’m thinking like, I just give Steve a shout out, like Steve is like the best business partner, because I literally could tell him anything. But I, I don’t, I don’t always tell him if I was having vertigo or hot flashes or whatever, right? All the things, not that he wouldn’t be supportive, but it’s just, you sometimes don’t even know what you need yourself. So I guess my question around that would be, what are some of the things that you recommend, or you’re seeing companies do that they can be doing proactively to offer support to women going through both perimenopause and menopause, who may not even know that they’re going through it or what they need?

Shelly MacConnell 16:07
I would suggest thinking about this in a number of ways. And one of them would be how do we support this population through our benefits. And so doing a real audit of your benefits to identify where there’s an opportunity to be more inclusive of treatment for menopause symptoms, and making sure that people have access? So one of the things we’ve done it when it’s, you know, building this capability for nurses to support people in education and self advocacy, as they go through this process. And then also, how do they find a provider that is, met up pause, competent, and sensitive and understanding and finding those providers can be a barrier to care for people or like we talked about going to care, and being having your symptoms be ignored or written off, and not treated as necessary, or as as well as could be is a significant issue. So this kind of knowing, understanding, self advocating, and knowing what exists out in the marketplace are important components. And all of that kind of fits under a benefits plan, structure. But there are a lot of things that you can be doing culturally as an organization. So I would suggest communities, many organizations have employee resource groups or employee affinity groups, they go by many different names, but they are people who are going through perhaps same circumstances in life, and having someone to support this population, to talk to one another and to learn from one another would be I think, an amazing resource to people in the in your workforce, but also a great demonstration of how you value women who are contributing to the organization.

Shelly MacConnell 18:17
There are some studies showing how employees would be very interested in employers that show support that actively demonstrate support for this phase and the symptoms and this long period of life particularly because perimenopause and menopause strike at a time where women are contributing the most in the workforce, very significant contribution, even at the highest levels of an organization and to lose people and their talent. That’s, that’s, that’s a problem we really want to retain to organizations want to retain this talent, and also have them be able to perform at their best and at their peak. So communities even supported by someone at top levels, women at top levels, maybe not just women, I would say is another great add. And there might be some manager training involved in this. How do we support people? How do we recognize some diverse issues that people may be going through that you yourself are not going through? So leaders who, in that example I gave somebody who didn’t want to be on video because they were having hot flashes? Leaders who are respectful of people who opt to not be on video in a phone call? Right? A lot of very high level leaders want people on video all the time. And let’s understand that there may be some medical circumstances where someone does not want to be. So this kind of how can we support managers? How can we support the community of people and then how from a benefit standpoint meat? Do we support people as well? I’d probably put it into those three categories.

Steve 20:06
Shall we? Thank you for that. I think that those are great points and great recommendations. And I think one of the things I wanted to make sure we touched upon, even just briefly is, and you mentioned it, right that this is hitting at the life stage where you are at your peak potentially in your career, right, you’re contributing the most you’ve achieved great success, worked hard for X number of years, 20 plus years, most likely, right? 20 years or so. You’re running groups running business units or running organizations, Theron, all of a sudden, now you’re having having some issues. And I feel like it’s just under sold or under reported, like, the numbers of folks, this is impacting and at their sort of prime. And there’s some stats we have in the notes that, you know, almost almost all women, it’s literally says 99% of women feel menopause symptoms and negatively affected their career. And 59% of women have taken time off due to these symptoms. And I feel like we’re just, again, I say, I’m ignorant. And I’m just I don’t think I’m ignorant. I think I’m typical guy, honestly, and women don’t know either by this.

Steve 21:23
And so just maybe talk about this a little bit more in terms of, hey, I hate to say this, but so many leaders, right, don’t want to don’t want to do the right thing. They only want to do the thing that’s good for business fine, right? That’s part of the game we’re playing here in capitalist America, but maybe maybe shot let’s talk just a little bit about the true business impacts and benefits to the organizational performance by really taking these issues seriously.

Shelly MacConnell 21:51
Lack of menopause care is a health care issue. But it is also a business issue. Period. Yeah. When you see the statistics of how many people report that their work, and productivity is impacted by menopause symptoms, so there was an AARP study. And it showed that women 50 to 65 40% of them said, it impacted them at least once a week 20% Every day, if not multiple times a day. And that’s for people who are 50 to 65. That leaves off a decade and a half or more of people who are experiencing perimenopause symptoms. So the impact on people is pretty significant. And many people, like you said, are juggling even understanding what is happening, they may not even understand that it is menopause. And then how do we treat menopause versus trying to treat all these different symptoms that are coming up? You know, there’s a, there’s a big difference between HR thinking they support menopause, and employees who do not have the same perception, there is a gap for certain, and studies have showed that the majority of people do not feel comfortable discussing this at work. So this has a significant business impact. And let’s even put aside like the business opportunity that exists in the marketplace, but for employers, this has a business impact. And many people aren’t telling you, it’s silent, they are not telling you. So there is an opportunity for businesses to create, to put light on this and to create the opening to talk about this and understand what the impact is. So we can make this better, and help people get the right treatment and be at their peak and bring their best to work.

Trish 23:52
Yeah, thank you for sharing that. I think that just even listening to you talk. And and again, I pretty much been through this, but like you’re talking about things like inflammation of the like, I didn’t know that was part of this. Right. So, Steve, to your point, Steve, to your point, women don’t know it either, necessarily. I think that if I were, if I were any leader, male female does not matter. I think and not just about menopause. But back to your earliest statement where you’re talking about this really being a way to be inclusive in your work environment. I think just being a leader, even if you don’t know you’re not doing anything intentional to hurt or harm, or further the company and not care about your employees. I think if you are just the type of leader who says hey, if you are in whatever phase of your life, maybe you’re trying to start a family, maybe you’re entering menopause, maybe you’re doing something maybe you’re going through some sort of a medical issue that you are not comfortable sharing. I want you to know that I am here to support you and what ever way you need. I am open to a discussion, because I don’t know what I don’t know, I think if you even just said something as simple as that, you might find that your employees would at least start to verbalize hopefully, when they’re when they’re having a tough day. Because I think sometimes we feel like sharing our what we perceive as weaknesses could lead to something punitive against us not just being not included, but truly punitive. So I think you have to just turn the tables and, and maybe just be very generically open.

Shelly MacConnell 25:36
That’s a great point Trish, just that we’re being inclusive, and we’re open. And even that even if someone doesn’t choose to talk about it, if they think that is genuine, that is an important component of a corporate culture.

Trish 25:51
And I don’t think I’ve ever had male bosses, female bosses. Again, Steve, I know, I could call him if I said, like, oh, my gosh, I’m having a hot flash. I can’t talk right now. Right? He would not. But but we don’t do that. So again, I think there’s also some responsibility on the female to say, I’m dealing with something today. And I don’t really want to go into all the details, but I might need a minute or 30 minutes or whatever, right to sort of sift through, because it is very emotional. Sometimes I just cry for no reason. You know, that’s just like what it is right? Like, sometimes our emotions are, are driven by our hormones. So it doesn’t mean anything’s wrong, per se. It’s just you might need a minute. Right? So that’s very hard to bring into the workplace.

Shelly MacConnell 26:38
For many people who have kind of thought or felt like they’ve fought to climb a corporate ladder, or break the glass ceiling, etc, you’re now bringing things in that may fit a stereotype that you’ve tried to avoid, that you have tried to avoid. So I can see, and certainly understand why talking about this made me not just feel uncomfortable, but may lead to or feel like it leads to a lack of opportunity, a lack of advancement, a lack of progression, perhaps in in an organization. And so perhaps that’s why it’s important for people at the highest levels to to voice these messages as a trickle down.

Steve 27:21
Yeah, I think that I’ve been listening, Shelly, to you and Trish as well, I feel I wrote down a note here. I feel like there’s a lot of similarities to many of the conversations we’ve had in the last few years around mental health in the workplace, is very similar in terms of it’s a bigger problem than anyone really cared to think about or admit or recognized. There was often a stigma about having the conversation in the workplace at all reluctance to admit, perhaps you were having an issue with mental health, similar to Shelly, what you said here, and also even on the benefit side, right, where employees may not have had access to the support that they needed or knowledge of where to find that access, even if it existed. And then that has been changing, right? We, the mental health in the workplace conversations been happening now. Much more over the last number of years, to maybe some of that was pandemic driven. I don’t know. But I feel a lot of equivalence here.

Shelly MacConnell 28:21
I see the correlations too steep. Yeah. And just to mention, mental health is a component of menopause, actually, and for some people who go on, you know, mood altering medications, because of what is happening to them might actually be served being on hormone replacement therapy, which might help with more of the symptoms that they are addressing. But that’s not even something that people necessarily know.

Steve 28:48
Yeah, I think that’s fascinating. And I just want to throw out one more thing, and then I kind of want to talk a little bit Shall we give you the chance to talk a little bit about when and some of the services that you provide, and more concretely write to employers for them to think about how they can better support their employees but I’m again a dumb guy here never had conversations about this. Certainly my mom and I never discussed this right, so I just think menopause equal hot flash, that’s literally the only thing I ever had in my dumb little man brain. I was looking before the show, and there was a really big study I read about that had hot flashes only the number five most reported symptom, right? So there’s all kinds of other things like body composition and weight issues, brain fog and memory issues. moodiness, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and then then hot flashes, number five, and this was like 22,000 people survey. So I think and why I bring that up was the person who shared that with me pointed out that those other first four symptoms right are often the ones we tell people even doctors, tell people Oh, just You’re fine. They’ll get over it. Go get a good night’s sleep. Go take a walk. One bath, and you’ll be fine. Like, you know what I mean? Just and similar to the mental health thing, right? If someone’s anxious or depressed or feeling down and we say, oh, go cheer up, go do this go, you know, go watch the sunset, you’ll feel better kind of thing, right? Those fake kinds of treatments. So anyway, I thought that was interesting. And maybe I’m speaking to the men in the audience, specifically at this point. Now, I think the women all know this, but I just wanted to share that as well, that I learned tonight.

Trish 30:29
You know, though, Steve, it’s, you mentioned sort of the mental health thing, and it made me think like, you know, if you’re on tic tac, or any of sort of the social channels, there’s a lot of joking, I think that goes on about, you know, if you’re a Gen X, or like many leaders of today’s workforce, you know, when we were growing up, there was no such thing as an anxiety your mom was like, get out of the house, go play, right? You couldn’t, this, you could never address anything, really. So we kind of poke fun at ourselves, if we’re in this sort of age range of maybe say 40 to 55 or 60. Ish, right? And, and thinking like, we did it. The truth is, we didn’t have examples unnecessarily, culturally, from our families, teaching us how to not only care for ourselves, but be caring for others, because we were constantly we’re just constantly told that our feelings what we were experiencing, were not happening. But you’re not anxious, get outside and go play. You’re not feeling sad, go out. And like you said, watch a sunset, watch a sunrise, right? Do something. So I just wonder, too, though, I think we need to also be a little gentle on ourselves as leaders. And, and be kind to ourselves, because we haven’t been trained to do this either. Right? So we need to seek it out. We may need to take some steps to seek it out. But this isn’t something that’s necessarily intuitive that we would know how to care for someone. Again, it’s back to you don’t know what you don’t know. So it is about educating yourself. Educating your your organization. Again, my mind is spinning Shelly, I’m thinking of like, what are all of the things you could be doing proactively to help someone going through menopause like, I remember I worked in big for public accounting a number of years ago, and one of the best things that we had in the kitchen was this huge medicine cabinet. And, you know, again, I was in my 20s, right, free Tylenol, free Motrin, whatever you need, right. But we thought that was great. We were like, yeah, we’ve you know, but wouldn’t it be nice if you thought about your own workplace and thought, you know, what, maybe you have some Dramamine for the people who might be having, you know, some sort of vertigo that day, because their hormones have suddenly acted up in there at work, and they can’t drive themselves home. Like, it’s like proactively thinking about all the little things or ice packs that someone might be able to take into the women’s restroom and, and just cool themselves down during a hot flush. Right. I’m just like, making this up, obviously. But I don’t know, in your, in your experience working with many companies, have there been any companies that did? I don’t know. I almost think of it. Like I get migraines, which my doctor and I have talked about are probably due to menopause, right? They’re triggered by menopause. So I have like I call it a migraine kit. Right? All the things in the little kit and a little bag that I might need to try and help fight a migraine. Could there be are there companies doing like almost like a kit of things, if you will, in the workplace to help people deal with menopause symptoms.

Shelly MacConnell 33:39
Trish, I like the idea. I am not aware of any who are doing it. And I do think that the symptoms are so wide ranging from heart palpitations to migraines, vertigo to almost every system, it can be impacted by this, that I think there probably hasn’t been but I love the idea of having ice packs in the freezer in the kitchen. And maybe we brainstorm on some other things that just are, again, part of a culture of inclusion in support. For instance, there have been some wearables that have emerged in the marketplace that people can wear overnight, and might trigger cooling when it’s needed to help with sleep because sleep is one of the major problems and of course we all know with inadequate sleep and inadequate good sleep. It has a lot of different impacts right so I had heard about it this is some time ago through some of my work and recommended it to a few people who I knew were going through this experience and their their feedback was actually quite different. One said quote It was life changing. Another said, didn’t help at all. So how we respond to things can be really different. But even just the idea of supporting wearables, for instance, in benefit plan, and thinking about these different ways that can actually help a person and may not be may not only not be high cost, but actually maybe reducing the cost to an employer for the right kind of treatment, to actually serve under that underlying cause of symptoms. As you know, so for instance, in the in the musculoskeletal example, understanding what is causing those issues, instead of going off for physical therapy and MRIs and X ray, you know, all the things that might come that are expensive in a health plan, if if you identify with a core issue is you really can save the plant a lot of money. And so, and not only that, but productivity and helping people to be at their peak, etc. So, I think there are some ideas around what we could do, culturally, and what we could weave into a benefit program to to really help people with small things and big things.

Trish 36:20
I love that connection, too. Because as someone who’s been, you know, a benefit administrator myself, and helping select the plans and policies for an organization. You know, as a middle aged woman, I wasn’t doing that specifically. So yes, I think it’s a good way to challenge those HR leaders or CEOs, you know, CFOs, who are making these decisions about benefit plans to offer and seek it out? And maybe it doesn’t exist in the plan that you’re working with. But maybe you’re asking about it will be the catalyst for benefits providers to start thinking about it more too.

Shelly MacConnell 36:55
Maybe it does exist, and putting it into a package that says, from a marketing standpoint, are you experiencing this, here are things we offer to help you that you might not know about by reading Benefits Enrollment Guide, or looking at other things, it may not be apparent the support that an employer offers. So kind of packaging it up, it’s a little marketing program, could really also be effective. So this audit of your programs to see where you may already offer something? Or maybe you could add something really could be effective?

Trish 37:37
Yeah. I love all these.

Steve 37:38
I think, yeah, this has been so interesting for me, and I’m glad Oh, I’m certainly glad we I’m sad. We waited 14 years to talk about this on the show. But I’m glad we are talking about that. I expect we’ll come back to the topic again, too. But I guess the last thing would be just if you could take a minute Shelley and share a little bit about how when works with employers to help with some of these issues more directly as well as a little bit more broadly, I know when provides a lot of services, in the benefits domain for for employers that they can take advantage of I’d love to maybe give you a minute or two to talk about that.

Shelly MacConnell 38:14
Thank you. Yeah, happy to so WINFertility is the nation’s leading family building and fertility benefit management company. We offer solutions to employers as part of an employee benefit program directly to health plans and also to consumers to help people start and grow a family. So we guide patients and partners through a range of family building options like preconception support, maybe someone is going through IVF the medication, the medical services that go through that are associated with IVF and advanced fertility treatments, also surrogacy and adoption, fertility preservation which has been growing in popularity, you know, freezing and storing material for later use. And then among other things, and perimenopause and menopause. In fact, we find that people who are going through the family building process, that Venn diagram can overlap very significantly with perimenopause. And so that has kind of created the opportunity to think about this as overlapping and helping people understand their underlying health and how that is impacting their fertility. But we also are expanding that to be able to help not just with perimenopause for people who are going through family building, but also other people in the population. People who may be in menopause, approaching menopause but aren’t building their families or already built a family etc. People who may be in an induced menopause state because of surgeries like a history Correct me etc. So, we are building a solution that or have built a solution that uses our nurses to help guide people through the process. And like I mentioned before, become self advocates understand what is going on how to select a provider, etc. And then we also have partnerships with some networks that are vetted and trained in menopause specifically, and then could be covered with virtual care under an employer’s health plan. And the idea of that virtual care, of course, is because it’s giving people access more broadly. And if they live in an area where there is a deficit, or desert, they can still access the care, even from those locations. So you know that that is the premise of what we’re doing. And, you know, in our 25, history, 25 year history, we’ve helped, you know, more than 400,000 families, awesome, build their families and have access to kind of the best doctors and technology and support. And that’s the idea that we bring to menopause. I’m hearing menopause.

Steve 41:15
I love it. I’m Thank you, Shelly, for that. Thank you for helping us understand more, you know, maybe you can trust to learn a little more about this topic.

Trish 41:26
And normalizing it, Shelly, I think what you’re talking about is really making it make sense to normalize the discussion, and then the practice around addressing, you know, women’s health issues. So I appreciate that.

Steve 41:44
Yeah, awesome stuff. So I want to thank Shelly MacConnell from WINFertility for taking the time to join us today. Maybe we’ll even have to revisit this topic, Trish down the road a little bit. Because I feel like we talked about a lot of issues. And there’s still some things maybe even left on the table. But you can learn more about WINFertility, we will put the link to that in the show notes as well. And Shelly, it’s been great to meet you and great to have this conversation. I swear we spent 40 minutes together. This is I’ve now spent 38 minutes longer talking about menopause, probably my entire life that I had up until today. A couple of minutes. That’s great. Thanks to the better for it. And I want more folks to learn about this especially I’m sorry, I’m gonna say especially guys in my position, right? Who really should know more about this? What’s happening in our companies, what’s happening in our families, what’s happening with our partners, what’s happening with our friends, all that right. So let’s hope that happens. So Shelly, thanks again.

Shelly MacConnell 42:43
Thank you both. I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today.

Steve 42:45
Thank you Trish great stuff. Yeah, it’s really fascinating stuff for me.

Trish 42:50
It is and thank you Steve for just being open and encouraging to other people of of learning more. I think that it’s not not that we all have to solve the problems for every single person who’s going through perimenopause or menopause but just being able to have that conversation I that would go a long way. So I do appreciate your support as your coworker Thank you.

Steve 43:12
Well, thank you and I apologize in retrospect fish for all the times I was insensitive. So thank you everybody for listening. Remember, thanks to our friends at Paychex Of course, for all their support. Visit all the show archives at HRHappyHour.net. Thanks, Shelley. Thank you Trish. Thanks everybody for listening. We will see you the next time and bye for now.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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