Why offering a fertility support programme to all of your workforce should be part of your wellbeing
Offering fertility support in the workplace is a great way to foster a culture of wellbeing and inclusivity – here’s why.
Figures from Fertility Network UK reveal that fertility challenges affect one in six couples in the UK – the equivalent of 3.5 million people. The journey to conception can take years, leading to significant emotional, physical and financial strain. This journey can be all-consuming for many people, which leads to increased absenteeism, a reduction in productivity and overall unhappiness at work.
LGBT+ employees require additional support to become a parent, either through donor conception or via adoption or surrogacy. According to the industry’s regulators, the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority, same sex couples currently make up 6.4% of all patients having fertility treatment in the UK, and this number is rising.
Single people are also affected. Many women simply haven’t met the right partner and want to be able to take control of their reproductive health through fertility preservation treatment.
Time to break the taboo
The sad truth is, people don’t like to talk about reproductive health. Whether it’s conception, pregnancy, miscarriage or menopause – there is still an underlying stigma attached as employees don’t want to be judged or hamper their career prospects.
All good employers understand that most employees will, at some point, start or build their family. The starting point to creating a more inclusive culture is, therefore, to offer an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their plans and challenges openly, if they wish to do so.
Having a fertility support programme in place will go a long way to helping employees feel they can talk to their employer. Workplace education is also a key part of this. Line managers need to understand the ins and outs of fertility issues so that they can directly support their team. Company-wide seminars or workshops can really break down the stigma and help people realise that they will be supported, not judged by their employer, if they embark on a fertility journey.
The clear benefits of fertility benefits
Proactively addressing fertility challenges and providing an appropriate solution has a multitude of advantages for both employees and employers.
Supports wellbeing, productivity and mental health
A recent study by Fertility Network UK found that 90% of those experiencing infertility felt some level of depression, while 42% felt suicidal. It’s clear that employees facing fertility challenges often experience a negative impact on their mental, physical and financial wellbeing.
An IVF cycle often costs more than £6,000 and has less than 50% chance of pregnancy. A treatment cycle can involve weeks of hormone injections and countless clinic visits for blood tests, scans and invasive procedures. This is all physically very draining and when someone has invested so much – both emotionally and financially – it can be devastating when things don’t work out.
Given employees spend around a third of their lives at work, for those undergoing such a major life event, it’s unsurprising that their mind can often be distracted, with productivity reduced and absenteeism increased.
Attracting and retaining talent
It is critical for employers to provide benefits that stand out from the crowd. There is a shift in the employment market as in-demand millennials seek out more flexible, creative and socially responsible company benefits.
Diversity & inclusion
LGBT+ employees require additional support when it comes to starting a family – either through donor conception or through adoption or surrogacy, and we know this is a growing percentage of our population.
Fertility benefits promote gender equality. Empowering women to take control of their reproductive health by funding egg or embryo freezing cycles gives female employees choice. These benefits support closing the gender pay gap – without compromising on dreams of having a family.
Companies with family-friendly policies showcase a better corporate brand to the outside world, making the business an attractive place to work. As far as corporate benefits go, fertility benefits tick multiple boxes – especially as they are accessible by everyone – irrespective of age, gender, sexual orientation or marital status.
USA leads the way…but the UK is catching up
Across corporate America, fertility benefit programmes have become a must-have benefit. According to the 2017 Maternity, Family and Fertility Survey by Willis Towers Watson, around two thirds of US employers with more than 100 employees were expected to be offering fertility benefits by 2019. Such companies include household names like Starbucks, Google and Spotify.
Now, demand is rapidly increasing in other parts of the world. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, more UK firms are rethinking their approach to employee health and wellbeing, and we are seeing a surge in demand for workplace support on reproductive health issues.
Fertility benefits offer good ROI
You may be surprised to learn that offering a fertility support programme is very cost-effective. If you consider the price of absenteeism, poor productivity, losing staff due to the emotional stress of the process, and the additional cost of having to replace them, it’s undoubtedly a wise investment.
This article is provided by Fertifa.
In partnership with Fertifa
Fertifa is the UK’s leading fertility and reproductive health benefits provider.