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Supporting your employee with PCOS: A guide for employers

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine disorder that affects around 1 in 10 people with ovaries, causing a wide range of physical and emotional symptoms. As an employer, it's essential to create a supportive and inclusive workplace for all your employees, including those who may be dealing with PCOS. In this blog post, I'll explore how employers can provide the necessary support and accommodations to employees with PCOS.


Understanding PCOS


Before discussing how to support your employees with PCOS, it's essential to have a basic understanding of the condition. PCOS is characterised by hormonal imbalances that can lead to irregular periods, ovarian cysts, and a range of symptoms such as acne, weight gain and difficulty losing weight, chronic fatigue, insulin resistance, sleep disturbances and excess hair growth. Many individuals with PCOS also experience emotional challenges, such as anxiety, depression, and stress. The symptoms of PCOS and its impact on mental health can be draining and lead to feelings of exhaustion and chronic fatigue which make it difficult to focus and manage daily tasks. It's important to recognise that the severity and symptoms of PCOS can vary greatly from person to person.


How can you create a supportive work environment for individuals with PCOS?

Open Communication

Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing that they have PCOS and can let you know how PCOS impacts them daily. Let them know they can discuss any requirements or requests they have that could make their lives a little easier. Make it clear that you are there to listen and support them. Let them know that they can discuss any concerns or requirements they may have due to their PCOS.


Flexible Work Arrangements

Consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work, flexible hours, or compressed workweeks. This can help employees with PCOS better manage their symptoms, especially during times of extreme fatigue, pain, or hormonal fluctuations. Employees with PCOS may have multiple appointments to attend and be using services such as acupuncture to manage their symptoms. Flexible working can make it easier for them to attend these appointments and manage their time more efficiently.

Promote healthy choices

Encourage a workplace culture that supports a healthy lifestyle. This includes advocating walking meetings, having lunch away from desks, and allowing for short breaks for stretching and relaxation, which can be particularly beneficial for employees with PCOS. If you provide snacks or drinks at the office then ensure you have a variety of healthy options available, including decaffeinated teas and coffee.


Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Offer access to EAPs or wellness programs that can provide emotional support and resources for managing PCOS-related stress and mental health concerns. Employees with PCOS may have difficulty conceiving and would benefit from support around fertility.


Respect Privacy and Confidentiality

Respecting an employee's privacy and maintaining confidentiality is crucial when dealing with sensitive health issues such as PCOS. Ensure that personal health information is kept confidential and only shared with those who need to know.


Educate Yourself and Your Team

There is so much stigma that is experienced by individuals with PCOS daily. If you are aware of an employee suffering with PCOS, educate yourself and your team about it to foster understanding and empathy. Misconceptions and ignorance can lead to misunderstanding and unintentional insensitivity. Consider providing training or resources about PCOS and its potential impact on employees' work and well-being to ensure all managers are informed.


Provide access to menstrual products

Individuals with PCOS may experience irregular and/or heavy periods which means they could be caught off guard at any time. You can help ensure they are always prepared by having a supply of sanitary towels and tampons available in all bathrooms.


Allow ample preparation time

PCOS can really knock an individual’s confidence making tasks such as presentations, social activities and meeting new people incredibly daunting. Try to be sensitive to this and always allow plenty preparation time for all these situations. Be aware that any last-minute changes can be incredibly overwhelming if they don’t give an individual enough time to prepare.


Be their biggest cheer leader

Low self-confidence can really impact their ability to put themselves forward for things like promotions and new roles. If you work with someone with PCOS and you think they’re doing a great job and may be due a promotion/pay rise or new role, then shout about it because chances are that they won’t.


Ensure they take time off

When our confidence is low we’re often left feeling like we constantly need to prove ourselves and may shy away from taking time off to avoid appearing lazy (there is a huge misconception that those with PCOS are lazy, which means many individuals with PCOS will have a fear that this is how everyone in the workplace perceives them). The inflammation and insulin resistance experienced with PCOS is exhausting which means time off to recharge and rest is essential. If you notice that someone with PCOS hasn’t had some time off for a while, encourage them to take some time out for themselves.


Supporting employees with PCOS is not only a matter of compassion but also good business sense. When employees feel supported and understood they are more likely to be productive and engaged in their work. By implementing some of the strategies mentioned in this blog post, you can help create a more inclusive and supportive workplace for all, including those living with PCOS. Remember, it's essential to tailor your approach to each individual's needs and preferences, as PCOS can manifest differently for each person.


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Uncover the 3 simple, highly-effective steps used by myself and all my clients to improve their PCOS symptoms, regain their confidence and live a life they love with PCOS (without dieting). 

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