Endometriosis is a long-term condition where the same tissue cells that line the womb grows in other places of the body too (the ovaries, fallopian tubes, outer surface of the uterus, the intestines, and more). Every month, these cells behave in the same way to those in the womb, building up and then breaking down and bleeding. However, unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to exit the body - causing the body to experience pain and stress.
Endometriosis can affect women anywhere from puberty through to menopause and can have a significant impact on their daily life. Women who live with this condition can experience the following symptoms:
As you can imagine, dealing with any number of the above-mentioned symptoms while also managing daily work commitments can be difficult.
If you're managing someone who is affected by this chronic condition, here are 5 tips to help lighten the load and create a working environment that's endo-friendly...
It's important to demonstrate that as a manager, you are sensitive to your employee's condition and don't hold it and its symptoms against them. Do your best to be mindful of their experience while still treating them fairly and equal to their colleagues. There may be times where your employee is incapacitated by their symptoms and won't be able to work, in which case, it'll be helpful for you to be prepared for this and to take an empathetic approach to offering support.
An employee who suffers with endometriosis will most likely need flexible working hours in order to manage their condition. These days, most organisations already have flexible working policies in place. If that is the case in your organisation, you may want to discuss those policies openly and see how they can accommodate your employee. Being open about such policies will help your employees to feel more comfortable broaching the subject.
Creating an environment in the workplace where people can freely discuss their work-life situations is good for every employee, not just those with medical conditions. It's important that all employees feel as though they can discuss their needs without being judged. The more open communication there is (between colleagues, as well as employees and their managers) the more enabled they will be to function at their best, remain happy in their place of work, and avoid burnout.
By regularly checking in with an employee who has endometriosis, you'll be able to gauge how they're coping and help them to manage their workload accordingly. Regular discussions will help you to know exactly what's going on, making it easier to pick up and be prepared in the event they can't make work for a couple days. Because Endometriosis effects people differently and for some, not every month is the same - checking in can help you both to stay flexible and plan accordingly.
The Endometriosis Friendly Employer scheme is a way for employers to confirm their commitment to developing a work environment and culture that enable employees with endometriosis to thrive at work. By signing up, you'll receive valuable educational resources throughout the year and a certificate to display your commitment - among other things. Once you make a pledge to join this scheme, your organisation will then need to appoint a group of endometriosis champions (a committee) to start implementing the principles of the scheme within the organisation. After you're first year of pledging, you'll be required to submit your organisation's efforts for review. This is a great way to walk the talk and to gain expert guidelines on how to implement positive change.
Endometriosis UK Website: https://www.endometriosis-uk.org/