Article: Why flexible work is key to period-friendly workplaces

Life @ Work

Why flexible work is key to period-friendly workplaces

A guide to building inclusive, high-performing workplaces with period-friendly policies.
Why flexible work is key to period-friendly workplaces

World Menstrual Hygiene Day serves as a reminder of the critical need to address menstrual health in the workplace. Menstrual health encompasses not just the physical aspects of menstruation, but also its emotional and psychological impacts. Ignoring menstrual health can lead to serious medical conditions such as infections, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and infertility. Additionally, menstrual health affects emotional well-being, morale, productivity, and overall quality of life.

Despite the increased participation of women in the workforce, menstruation remains a taboo subject in many workplaces. Many organisations fall short in creating menstrual-friendly environments, often limiting their efforts to providing sanitary pads. The concept of period leave, while gaining traction, is still not widely adopted.

Addressing these challenges requires creating workplaces that support women's holistic well-being, addressing both physical health needs and fostering emotional and psychological support. This approach contributes to a more inclusive and productive work environment.

By normalising conversations around menstruation and implementing comprehensive support measures, organisations can break the stigma and empower women to thrive both professionally and personally.

Here are some key strategies that can be implemented to create a supportive environment for female employees:

Enhance office facilities

Organisations should take proactive steps to support menstrual health by providing a variety of free menstrual products, such as pads and tampons, in restrooms. This ensures that employees are prepared and supported during their menstrual cycles. Additionally, it is important to offer private rest areas where employees can take breaks, manage symptoms, and find relief without feeling self-conscious. Stocking common pain relief medications in-office medical kits can also help employees manage symptoms more effectively, contributing to a more supportive and comfortable workplace environment.

Offer flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements greatly benefit employees experiencing menstrual difficulties. Allowing employees to work from home provides a familiar environment where they can manage their symptoms more comfortably, alleviating discomfort and enhancing productivity. This includes enabling employees to work from home during their menstrual cycle and allowing flexible working hours, so they can rest when needed and work when they feel more capable.

Provide access to healthcare

Women in India face unique health challenges while balancing work and family responsibilities. Providing specialised healthcare, including access to gynaecologists and comprehensive insurance coverage for reproductive health issues, is crucial. Insurance plans should include coverage for conditions such as PCOS and fertility treatments to ensure women receive the necessary support and care to manage their health effectively. Additionally, offering access to counsellors or therapists who can help employees manage the psychological impact of menstruation is equally important. This holistic approach supports women's physical and emotional wellbeing, enabling them to thrive both personally and professionally.

Implement wellness programs

Incorporating wellness programmes into the workplace empowers women to prioritise their health and wellbeing by providing access to amenities such as gyms, nutritionists, and peer support groups. These programmes contribute to improved health outcomes and foster a positive work environment conducive to personal and professional growth. Effective wellness initiatives include encouraging regular exercise through gym memberships or in-office fitness classes to alleviate menstrual symptoms and improve overall health, offering access to nutritionists for dietary advice, and establishing peer support groups where employees can share experiences and advice. This creates a sense of community and reduces feelings of isolation.

Creating a menstrual-friendly workplace goes beyond providing necessary amenities; it involves cultivating a culture of understanding and support. This approach is a vital step towards gender equity, ensuring that women can fully participate in the workforce without their menstrual health being a barrier to their success. By implementing these measures, organisations can create an environment where women feel supported and valued, leading to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and overall wellbeing.

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Topics: Life @ Work, Culture, #DayInFocus, #Wellbeing

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