5 ways to make your office period-friendly
New research has revealed that not having access to period products at work is impacting the mental health of 61 per cent of working women in Australia.
Here are 5 ways to make your office period-friendly and ensure all employees are able to thrive at work! If you’re an employee, you can use these to start lobbying your employer and encourage them to start making positive changes at your workplace.
1. Provide free sanitary products
While most companies are happy to provide free coffee and biscuits as ‘workplace essentials’, it’s time to make free sanitary products an essential part of every workplace too.
With research showing that more than half of working women in Australia have had to take time off work to go and buy sanitary products, providing access to free products can not only improve mental health, but also increase productivity.
2. Make bathroom breaks more accessible
Many of us have come up with creative ways to hide tampons and pads on the way to the bathroom or had to make a sudden dash to one when your period has come as a surprise or is heavier than expected. That’s fine if you’re in an office, but even getting to a bathroom can be challenge for employees working a retail shift, on a factory floor or teaching in a classroom.
Ensuring there are measures in place that allow all employees to access the washroom as required is essential to making sure employees feel comfortable to come into work while menstruating.
3. Implement a menstruation policy
The key to ensuring a period-friendly office is normalising menstruation. While access to period products and waste disposal are great initiatives, without policies that normalise menstruation at a corporate level, menstruation will continue to be a taboo subject. For example, offering flexible start and finish times for employees suffering from menstrual-related symptoms so that they don’t need to use up their sick leave, reaffirms that menstruation is not a sickness and shouldn’t be treated as one.
4. Provide adequate handwashing facilities – and waste removal units
Making sure there’s always soap, as well as a working hand dryer, ideally with a HEPA filtration system and UV sterilisation, are both important in providing a dignified washroom experience, as they ensure that employees can hygienically change their sanitary products.
Creating an inclusive workplace is also about making sure the needs to all employees are met, regardless of gender, so it’s also critical for workplaces to include waste removal units in all washroom cubicles.
5. Break the taboo and challenge the status quo
Periods can be a sensitive topic to talk about at work, but to drive change, we need to increase awareness about the lack of washroom dignity and encourage employees to flag their concerns and share their thoughts on the solutions. Help drive change in your workplace by speaking to your manager, your HR team or your employee wellbeing champion and telling them why washroom dignity matters and ask them why there are free biscuits in the kitchen, but no free period products in the washroom.
Bonus tip! Implement workplans to make the office more comfortable
Encouraging employees to openly use products that ease period-related symptoms such as heat packs for menstrual cramps, will ensure employees feel comfortable both mentally and physically, to come into the office while menstruating.
Making your office more period friendly and ensuring a dignified washroom experience for all, starts with a conversation.
With governments already driving change in schools by funding free period products, Initial Hygiene is calling upon Australian employers to step up or risk lagging behind.