First-time login tip: If you're a REBA Member, you'll need to reset your password the first time you login.
13 Jan 2023

Fertility in the workplace: the inclusive approach

How you support your people through their journey into parenthood is, increasingly, the benchmark of a responsible, forward-thinking employer. Here’s how you can be part of that movement

Fertility in the workplace: the inclusive approach.jpg


Scratch the surface of any modern workforce and it quickly becomes apparent that there’s one health concern in particular many employees are struggling with, no matter which sector or country they work in. 

Fertility issues, whereby couples are struggling to conceive, affect as many as one in six couples.

For those who do conceive, there is the added stress of knowing approximately 25% of pregnancies end in miscarriage. 

Alternative routes to parenthood, such as IVF, surrogacy or adoption, all require serious consideration and aren’t options to be undertaken lightly. 

Each can be an expensive and lengthy process, and all take a toll on physical and mental wellbeing, as Francesca Steyn, Peppy’s director of fertility services and chair of the Royal College of Nursing Fertility Nurses’ Forum, explains. 

”Fertility treatment is all-consuming and can result in anxiety and depression,” Steyn says. “In fact, figures [from Fertility Network UK] show that 90% of men and women struggling with their fertility experience feelings of depression. Even more worryingly, 42% have stated that they felt suicidal.”

As well as impacting mental health, fertility issues commonly affect other areas of life.

For instance, treatments such as IVF can be physically gruelling, with the hormone injections required to kickstart the process causing headaches, hot flushes, mood swings and irritability. The medically invasive procedures during which eggs are collected can cause pain, cramping and bleeding.

Unsurprisingly, 85% of people feel that fertility treatment has had a negative impact on their work and their ability to perform at their best. Nearly a fifth (19%) have felt the need to reduce their hours, or even leave the workplace altogether. 

5 ways you can support your employees

Everyone’s fertility journey is different. Each person will experience challenges unique to them, but there are steps that HR teams and line managers can take to create a supportive environment, no matter what an employee’s circumstances or which country they reside in.

1. Educate your team 

Educate line managers across your business about the reality of fertility issues, some of the more common challenges people face and the language surrounding these, so there’s an overall awareness that makes it easier to start a conversation. 

Ensure managers also know where to direct employees for further support if they feel their teams are struggling, mentally or physically.  

Organising training sessions with a fertility expert can also be really valuable. 

Organisations, such as Fertility Network UK, offer training sessions on fertility in the workplace and how employers can better support their people. 

2. Implement a fertility policy 

Introduce a written policy, tailored to each country, that outlines an organisation’s recognition of fertility issues. This demonstrates a level of commitment to your people and reassures your workforce that as employers, you understand the impact infertility can have on lives. 

Just as importantly, it also removes any ambiguity in terms of the support employees can expect and how they go about accessing it. 

For example, your policy may set out the amount of time off employees are entitled to in connection to fertility treatment.  

3. Start the conversation 

The more fertility issues are discussed, the more normalised they become. 

If line managers and senior leaders talk openly, the conversation will begin to flow more naturally and reduce any stigma or feelings of shame or embarrassment people may feel. 

If you’re not sure how your employees are feeling or the type of fertility support they want, ask them! An anonymous survey is a great place to start. 

4. Cultivate an open culture and environment 

By raising awareness around the challenges of infertility across your organisation, you’ll help your teams understand the struggles some of their colleagues may be facing.  

One way to do this is by highlighting the issue during awareness days or awareness weeks, such as World Infertility Awareness Month in June 2022.

You may also want to encourage peer-to-peer support by setting up a fertility support coffee morning (virtual or in person), a Yammer page or a Slack channel, so employees have a safe space to offload. 

5. Introduce a digital health solution

Consider giving your people access to a digital health platform which offers them remote access to personalised fertility support. For example, we connect users to fertility experts for 1:1 chat and virtual consultations via their smartphone. 

Offering easy access to evidence-based information from experienced medical experts can make a big difference to your employees’ fertility journey.

In partnership with Peppy

Peppy is a next-generation solution that's transforming digital healthcare.

Contact us today


Webinar: How digital change will transform workforce wellbeing & engagement

Crafting a resilient HR strategy to future-proof your employee health offering

Wed 27 Sept 2023 | 10.00 - 11.00 (BST)

Sign up today