If your employee comes up to you and shares the good news with you, elation will most likely be your first response as her boss. But after the good news has been shared and celebrated, comes the hard part. How can you ensure that your employee stays as comfortable as possible during the pregnant stages at work? How can you assure your pregnant employee that your office is the best place to work in until she has to take her maternity leave? And how can you be sure that you have created (or are in the process of creating) the ideal workplace for pregnant women in your office? Read below to find out more.
Conduct a risk assessment of the workplace
The first step to making sure that your workplace is the ideal workplace for pregnant women is to inform your HR in writing about the particular employee’s pregnancy. Then, you must conduct a risk assessment of your workplace.
This assessment includes a check up of all the chemicals, solvents and heavy metals included or present in your office space. These chemicals might harm the mother and the unborn baby. So, at this stage, if you, as the employer, know that certain harmful chemicals are present in your workplace, you must inform the pregnant employee of the same.
Apart from this, you must also identify any physical or psychological factors in your workplace that might harm the pregnant women and the unborn baby, so that you can rectify the same.
Look out for any misplaced seating arrangement or the quality of food in the canteen. You will also fare well to look into the psychological stressors that might affect the health of pregnant women. This includes taking too much workload all alone, manual work, or being surrounded by violent individuals or situations.
See if these stressors can be altered or another safe alternative can be presented for the same. Including them in your office will help you to create the ideal workplace for pregnant women.
Adjust the sitting arrangement for pregnant women
As the pregnancy progresses, your pregnant employee will only grow in size, and as a result, will drift more and more away from her desk. To compensate for the increasing distance between herself and the work desk, she might overreach for the mouse or the touchpad on the laptop. This is not healthy or ideal.
To create the ideal workplace for pregnant women, ensure that you add forearm rests by her chair, so that the women can sit in comfort. They will also allow pregnant women in your office to bend over to their work desk easily.
If you can afford, try installing ergonomic chairs for the pregnant women in your office. These chairs are best known for adjusting well according to the bodily changes of the pregnant women throughout the entire nine months.
If they seem expensive, a better idea is to include just one ergonomic chair in your office and allow the pregnant women to use it during their work hours.
Include a sitting wedge for back pain
Back pain is one of the most common issues that pregnant women face through their term. To create an ideal workplace for pregnant women, you can come up with furniture that helps to ease the back pain of expecting mothers.
One of the best ways to do this is to include a sitting wedge in your office. If you are unable to do that, you can also provide your pregnant employee with soft cushions on their chair to aide them and find relief from back pain.
Communicate with the pregnant women about work breaks
Post-pregnancy health issues – be it physical or mental are no joke. And while most pregnant women return to work just days after childbirth, they might still be suffering from blood loss or post partum depression.
It is important, when you set out to create an ideal workplace for pregnant women, to take into consideration not only the architectural changes in the organization, but also changes in the way it approaches mid-pregnancy and post-pregnancy issues.
To do this, open a transparent dialogue with your pregnant employee about how she is feeling post childbirth. Ask her if she needs a break for some more days or lesser workload to help her heal quickly.
Treat your pregnant employee, if needed, as a temporarily disabled individual at work, and allow her the benefits or privileges for the same. Of course, most women would not demand this upfront. But being informed and educated about it helps. Speaking about being educated and informed…
Create a separate breastfeeding space
While we are on the topic of creating an ideal workplace for pregnant women, let us not forget that even new mothers are allowed to bring their newborn babies to work in most developed countries.
To provide a supportive environment for returning mothers in the workplace, you can also create or design a separate breastfeeding space or room for them and their babies.
Most women, pregnant or even post-pregnancy, are great and willing contributors to a company’s or country’s economy. To facilitate their productivity at work, this breastfeeding room is a must. Not only will it help new mothers to take care of their babies at work, but also feel safe, secure and confident in their ability as a mother and as an employee at the same time.
Educate yourself and other employees about the topic
Sometimes, the lack of awareness about the trails and turmoil pregnancy and childbirth brings to a woman can act as a hindrance to creating an ideal workplace for pregnant women.
So, one of the most crucial things to do in order to facilitate a supportive work environment for pregnant women is to be educated about the ordeals the nine months bring to the surface.
Once you and your employees are sensitized to the good and bad sides of pregnancy and childbirth, you can offer a helping hand or an understanding nod to the unspeakable, seemingly minor problems a woman might face before and after childbirth.
Creating an ideal workplace for pregnant women is not just about making physical changes to your work environment. It is also about understanding the emotional and mental needs of pregnant employees and cater to the same as smoothly as possible.