It’s mighty unpleasant…and it’s not going away
If you had employees suffering from nausea and pain on a regular basis, struggling with fatigue and heavy bleeding, you’d want to know about it right? These are all symptoms of endometriosis, and 1 in 9 people who period struggle with it. Every. Single. Month. Sadly, many employers may not be aware of it or have any idea how they can help!
That's the trouble with this chronic disease (yes it’s a disease). Unfortunately it has such a stigma around it that many employees are too embarrassed to speak up. Or even worse, too afraid to take the time to properly manage their condition for fear of losing their jobs or being overlooked for promotions. Sad, but this actually happens!
‘Being informed about endometriosis and knowing how to help workers manage symptoms means you can support workers better. Taking reasonable steps…can lead to better work health and safety outcomes.’ Safe Work Australia
So what is endometriosis?
It’s where cells like the ones in the uterus grow in other parts of the body. Sounds harmless, but it can be excruciating and take a massive toll on a person's physical and mental wellbeing (let alone their productivity!) There’s no known reason why people get it and no cure. Sufferers just have to manage their symptoms as best they can and get on with life. Brutal.
So how can you help?
The National Action Plan for Endometriosis states that having the disease recognised and acknowledged by employers can have a positive impact on employees in the workplace. It’s reported to cost more than $7.7 billion in healthcare, absenteeism and lost social and economic participation, so it’s time to do something about it.
There’s a whole host of ways an employer can help support those suffering. From managing WHS risks, to building a supportive workplace culture where sufferers may feel comfortable to open up and share how they’re feeling. Flexible work arrangements and adequate access to toilets and rest facilities can all contribute to a more comfortable work environment rather than needing to take time off or suffer in silence.
With that being said, you might be asking yourself what practical steps you can take right now to help those suffering? In conjunction with managing your employees emotional needs, you can also help by catering to their physical needs too. Most workplaces have a first aid kit, right? Why not have a period and endometriosis kit on hand?
Many symptoms can be managed or made more comfortable with heat packs, soothing teas and pain patches to take the edge off. Also, you can save employees the embarrassment of scouting around the office looking for pads by having a handy supply available at all times. What an incredible piece of mind for when you need it most!
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