In the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that more and more companies are adding fertility and family-forming benefits — and you would be right. In 2019, nearly one-third (31%) of employers with more than 500 employees offered some type of fertility benefit, up from 24% in 2016. And it isn’t just large employers, either — even among small businesses with fewer than 50 employees, 10% are now offering fertility benefits (a jump from 4% in 2016).
Whether you personally would like to have an employer-sponsored fertility and family-forming benefit or simply wanted to help raise the issue on behalf of your colleagues, you probably have some questions about raising the topic to your HR leaders. We sat down with some leading benefits professionals to offer a few tips for having that conversation.
Approaching your HR team
Many benefit programs come to life because of employee demand. After all, your benefits team won’t know that fertility and family-forming benefits are something their colleagues are interested in — and therefore a good place to spend their budget dollars — unless employees let them know. Still, given the more personal nature of fertility and other healthcare benefits, it can feel daunting reaching out. If you don’t feel comfortable reaching out to someone on the benefits/people team on your own, it can be helpful to have an “executive sponsor” — someone, not necessarily in HR, who knows how to navigate your company’s systems to help navigate the conversations with you or on your behalf. This can be a manager, employee resource group (ERG) leader, friend, or any knowledgeable colleague.
Power in numbers
Another way to request fertility and family-forming benefits is through already established employee resource groups (ERGs). These are employee-led groups of individuals with shared identity or experiences. Some of the common areas ERGs form around include:
- Culture, race, and ethnicity
- People with disabilities
- Religion or faith
- Gender identity
- Sexual orientation
ERGs can be a good way to gain momentum, capture HR’s attention, and help de-stigmatize the request — after all, if there’s a large group making the initial request, the benefits team will know there’s even more need for this benefit. If you’d like to get ERG support, attend the next meeting or send a note to your ERG’s leader, asking if it’s something the group would be willing to support. Even if a fertility and family-forming benefit is not something that everyone in an ERG needs, supporters and allies can be some of your best advocates.
Preparing for your benefits conversations
HR leaders don’t expect an employee to go into conversations with all of the facts and numbers — but it certainly can help to pitch the benefit as a business case. There are a number of resources that exist to help arm you with the information you need — our post on “How to talk to your CFO about fertility benefits” is a good place to start.
A few important things to remember:
- While recruitment is something that is often talked about, many people don’t think about retention. Having statistics on increasing retention or employee loyalty may be helpful.
- It’s also smart to include data points around the stress fertility or family forming may have on employees. According to one survey, 40% of people planning to undergo fertility treatment reported feeling stressed about the cost of the treatment.
Keep in mind that not everyone in HR or benefits may be completely familiar with what exactly a fertility and family forming benefit is — a common misconception is that these benefits are only for egg freezing, but that isn’t typically the case. There are a number of fertility benefit options on the market, so it’s important to be explicit about what you want covered. When scheduling your meeting, consider including some information to help if the person making the decision isn't as educated on fertility and family forming issues as you would hope — our fertility benefits buyers guide and fertility language guide are two educational resources that can help.
Finally, talking about budget will be important. Many people assume that fertility benefits are extremely expensive, but that’s also a common misconception. Some companies offer tiered options that can flex as your company grows — so it can be helpful to mention that, even if the company starts at a lower benefit level, anything would be a welcome addition. Then, over time, the benefit can be expanded.
Carrot offers a flexible, customizable, and adjustable fertility and family-forming benefit that can be designed to work for your company and alongside any existing benefits.