Managing incontinence in the workplace: Promoting inclusivity and support

Find out why it important to understand in incontinence in the workplace, and how you can promote inclusivity and support the wellbeing of everyone.

Imagine this: you’re in the middle of a meeting, giving a presentation to your colleagues. You’re feeling confident and in control, until you suddenly feel a familiar feeling. You need to use the bathroom, but you can’t just get up and leave. You’re afraid of what your colleagues will think, or worse, that you’ll have an accident.

In the mosaic of workplace experiences, there are diverse challenges that women navigate, both visible and concealed that too on a daily basis. One being overlooked but affects a significant number of women is the problem of incontinence. 

Incontinence is not just a physical problem. It can also have a significant impact on a woman’s mental and emotional health. Women with incontinence may feel embarrassed, ashamed, and isolated. They may worry about leaks, odor, and having to leave their desk frequently. This can lead to anxiety, stress, and low productivity.

The workplace can be a particularly challenging environment for women with incontinence. This can make it difficult to focus on their work and to feel comfortable in their environment.

In this article, we dive into the importance of addressing incontinence in the workplace, offering insights into fostering inclusivity and providing the necessary support.

Understanding incontinence

Incontinence refers to the involuntary loss of urine or bowel control. While it’s a prevalent condition affecting people of all ages, it’s often accompanied by feelings of embarrassment and isolation. This can be especially challenging in a workplace setting, where concerns about stigma and discomfort may arise.

The importance of inclusivity

When it comes to addressing complex issues like incontinence among women in the workplace, the value of inclusivity takes center stage. Inclusivity goes beyond just acknowledging differences; it involves creating an environment where every woman’s experiences, challenges, and needs are recognized and embraced. 

Breaking stigma

Many people are not aware of the different types of incontinence, the causes, and the treatments. By educating employees about incontinence, employers can help to reduce the stigma associated with the condition.

Creating an atmosphere where employees feel comfortable discussing their needs contributes to a more accepting environment. By openly addressing incontinence, availability of incontinence products for women at workplaces can help break down the stigma associated with the condition. 

Employee wellbeing

The term “employee wellbeing” includes a spectrum of physical, mental, and emotional factors that contribute to an individual’s quality of life within the professional realm. Knowing that their workplace is understanding and accommodating allows female employees to focus on their tasks without the added stress of managing their condition discreetly.

Retention and productivity

An inclusive workplace encourages female staff to stay with the company and be more productive. When employees feel valued, supported, and cared for, not only are they more likely to stay with the organization, but their productivity also soars. 

Four supportive measures you can put in place

Here are four supportive measures you should look at putting in place.

1) Accessible facilities

Whether it’s ensuring ease of movement for individuals with mobility challenges, or well-equipped restroom facilities and accessibility can make a significant difference. Providing proper hygiene products and disposal options can alleviate discomfort.

If incontinence is caused by a medical condition, employers may need to accommodate physical limitations, such as providing a chair or desk that is easy to get in and out of.

2) Open communication

Encouraging open and effective communication encourages greater wellbeing for everyone. By normalizing the topic and allowing employees to voice their needs without fear of judgment. There are a number of resources available to help and talk to women with incontinence. Employers can provide employees with information about these resources, such as support groups, incontinence products, and medical providers.

3) Flexible breaks

Women with incontinence may need to take more bathroom breaks than other employees. Offering flexible break times can be crucial for individuals managing incontinence. This gives them the opportunity to manage their needs discreetly and without time constraints. 

4) Education and awareness

Conducting educational sessions or workshops can help raise awareness about incontinence, debunk myths, and promote understanding. Women with incontinence should feel comfortable talking to their employer about their condition. Employers should be understanding and supportive, and they should make accommodations as needed to help women staff to thrive in daily life with incontinence.

Creating a supportive culture

And here are some ways you can create a supportive culture at work.

Set a leadership example

Leadership can set the tone by fostering open and honest discussions about health concerns, including incontinence. Leadership can set the tone by fostering open and honest discussions about health concerns, including incontinence. Encouraging transparent communication sends the message that health challenges are acknowledged and accommodated.

Put policies and guidelines in place

Incorporating inclusive policies into the workplace handbook demonstrates a commitment to creating an environment where every employee is respected and valued. 

Ask for feedback and celebrate success stories

Establishing mechanisms for employees to provide feedback and suggest improvements related to health accommodations demonstrates a willingness to continuously evolve and enhance support systems.

Highlighting success stories and contributions of women within the organization, regardless of their health challenges, reinforces a culture that values women for their skills and accomplishments.

Foster an environment that values everyone’s wellbeing

Managing incontinence in the workplace is not just about addressing a medical condition; it’s about fostering an environment that values every individual’s wellbeing. 

By acknowledging the challenges women face and providing practical support, organizations can create a culture of inclusivity and empathy. Ultimately, embracing inclusivity positively impacts workplace morale, productivity, and overall employee satisfaction.