With March being Endometriosis Awareness Month, employers have an opportunity to improve their understanding of how the condition can affect their employees and how they can support them.
With one in ten women and those assigned female at birth suffering with the condition, it affects many women and employers need to understand the impact and how they can support them.
Impact on the workplace
Employees who have endometriosis can find that the pain is debilitating, and it affects their ability to work. Support to increase understanding, and advice on managing symptoms, can be a great help. Peppy, the digital health app has put together five ways that employers can support employees with endometriosis.
Endometriosis can have a significant impact on a person’s life, including chronic pain, depression/isolation, an inability to conceive and difficulty in fulfilling work and social commitments2. However, with the right endometriosis treatment, many of these issues can be addressed, and the symptoms of endometriosis made more manageable.
Francesca Steyn, director of fertility and women’s health services at Peppy says: “As an employer, it’s useful to be in a position to support and educate employees, this needs to include having a good understanding of what employees are going through and putting yourself in a position to actively help.”
1. Flexible Working
Employees who have endometriosis can benefit from flexibility in their working day: for doctor’s appointments, to get treatment or to have some downtime if needed. Giving the option of flexible working can be a real support, allowing employees to fulfil their duties at different times and/or the ability to work from home.
2. Job Security and Fertility Treatment
Endometriosis can cause complications in conceiving, but a good and clear maternity policy is vital. Mothers-to-be need to feel secure in their job security. Employers need to make sure maternity information is easily accessible and available from the point of hire.
3. Have a Compassionate Workplace
It can feel alienating to live with a chronic condition, and employers may have no idea how many staff could be struggling silently.
Someone with endometriosis may not feel comfortable disclosing their diagnosis for fear that assumptions about their productivity might be made. It’s important to create an open and compassionate environment, with easily accessible and in-person support facilities.
4. More Sanitation Awareness
Employers can go to extra lengths by openly offering sanitary products in bathrooms, and including posters and information on the back of toilet doors, for example. This instils in employees’ minds that the company is supportive and aware, and will encourage an open discourse. By doing so, employers promote a healthier mindset when approaching female wellbeing.
5. Encourage Medical Attention
There is a range of professional medical help that can support employees with endometriosis, and it’s important for employers to be aware of what’s available and to offer the most appropriate support to their staff, as well as encouraging them to utilise it.
Specialists can diagnose the condition and offer advice and support on areas such as fertility and managing pain and symptoms.
Steyn continued: “It mustn’t be underestimated how difficult it can be for employers themselves to know how to offer support, and we’ve found the assistance we can give to employers, educating them on the kind of medical support that’s available to employees with endometriosis has been hugely welcomed.”
Endometriosis is a condition which can affect anyone born with a female reproductive system, in which the standardly-unbearable symptoms of periods can become chronic and debilitating; not discussed frequently enough and often misunderstood. It is a significantly difficult condition to live with, in which the body produces excess tissue that mimics that of the lining of the womb in areas that it would not – and should not – normally develop.