What’s that one location we spend most of our time at (discounting our homes)?
If you guessed workplaces, you’re absolutely right!
A massive chunk of us works a solid 8-9 hour shift today, with some professionals even stretching it to mind-numbing 10-12 hour shifts. Just like we place importance on researching an office’s work culture, their reporting manager, the office’s location, the commute details, etc, there is one more crucial aspect that many people, especially menstruators, should keep a lookout for – the presence of clean and hygienic-sanitary facilities in their future workplaces.
On average, menstruators have around 450 periods in their lifetime, which equates to around 10 years. Unfortunately for us, our menstrual cycle doesn’t work around our work-life schedule. A huge chunk of our menstruating time, therefore, falls under the bracket of ‘being at the office’. Hence, finding the right kind of workplace with the right kind of sanitation measures in place is a must.
Let’s take a deeper look into this:
Entering the ideal workplace
A workplace is great only when it takes every employee’s needs into consideration, and establishes an equal, inclusive, and sensitivity-oriented culture. Menstruators, for example, have different needs as opposed to non-menstruators; however, a workplace can elevate its status from ‘good’ to ‘great’ the moment it makes both parties feel at home during those 8-9 hours. Right from flexible working hours to sanitation facilities, a great workplace has them all.
First and foremost: Hygienic Washrooms
Ask any menstruator and they will undoubtedly rank this point first on their list. Practising good menstrual hygiene always starts with having hygienic sanitation facilities. A great workplace will ensure that there are enough bathroom stalls, proper dustbins, an ample supply of environment-friendly toilet paper, proper soap/hand wash, running water, biodegradable paper towels, and maybe even an air dryer. It will also ensure that there is a dedicated cleaning crew to keep these stalls in spick and span conditions. Great workplaces will have airy and open bathrooms, with no stains, no residual garbage, no clogged toilets, or no putrid smells, all of which directly point to a well-maintained hygienic infrastructure.
Stocked Up On Products
A great workplace doesn’t just stop at keeping their facilities clean – they know that they have menstruating individuals in their workforce and that sometimes, periods can spring up in the most unceremonious ways. Therefore, they always make sure that they are stocked up to the brim – pads, tampons, painkillers, hot water bottles…you name it, they have it. This helps put every menstruating individual at ease as they know they can bank on the office’s product supply if they are ever caught unawares.
In addition, employees might forget to bring a change of pad/tampon on some days. Studies have shown that leaving tampons in for longer than what is advised, can lead to serious health conditions such as toxic shock syndrome, etc. Therefore, it’s always beneficial if places of work can stock up on period products for instances like these.
Additional products like painkillers and hot water bottles are also super relevant for menstruators to have access to at their workplaces because let’s face it – no menstrual cycle is a bed of roses. There can be excessive bleeding, cramps, pain, bloating…all of which won’t allow a person to cross the street to buy medicines at a pharmacy with ease. Hence, it’s extremely helpful for workplaces to stock emergency medication to combat the common side effects of periods.
What’s another sign of a great workplace? Its management’s mindset and mentality towards the whole phenomenon to begin with! Most workplaces today are starting to truly understand the physical/emotional/mental discomfort a menstruator goes through when they’re on their period. This realization is now prompting the introduction of separate “period policies”, where employers are giving menstruators a couple of days off (plus paid leave) during their cycles. In addition, many workplaces are also providing their employees with subscriptions to period tracking apps, which can help menstruators better manage and track their cycles.
Work can be stressful, to say the least. Add hormones, bleeding, cramps, bloating, pain, general discomfort to the mix, and it can definitely make stress levels skyrocket. A great workplace understands and does its best to help menstruators during these times. Whether it provides stress management measures like enrolling employees in yoga/mindfulness classes or allows employees to take 10-15 minute breaks, every measure counts. The management constantly seeks awareness about how to make things better, and this culture of learning is an extremely significant tracker to look out for any time you start your job search.
Your wellbeing always takes first priority, and you deserve to join a workplace that thinks the same!