Fertility problems can affect anyone – regardless of sex, socioeconomic status, or race. Which means no workplace is immune from having employees who face fertility issues. Given this, all companies should have a support system in place for employees who undergo this difficult experience. Not only is it the right thing to do but also, without one, you risk losing your top talent to other companies that offer a more supportive culture. Below are a few of our best recommendations to help your employees through this challenging time:
Normalize the conversation
Undergoing fertility treatments can be an incredibly lonely time for employees. And despite the fact that one in eight U.S. couples experience infertility, it’s still a taboo topic in many workplaces – as are other related fertility topics like egg freezing and in vitro fertilization. However, there are things you can do to normalize the conversation at work:
- Create a culture of openness. Your employees should feel comfortable bringing their whole selves to work. There are many ways to achieve this type of open culture – whether that’s by hiring diverse teams, encouraging Employee Resource Groups, or creating safe spaces for people to speak candidly about tough subjects. This type of change won’t happen overnight, but starting off with a few of these initiatives will show your employees that they won’t be penalized or judged for sharing their fertility experiences at work.
- Educate your company. One of the best ways you can normalize the conversation around fertility care is to educate the rest of the company. You can host lunch and learn sessions with a fertility clinic or teach your employees how to communicate in an inclusive and accurate way. This type of company-wide education increases empathy and may make employees feel more supported, knowing that their colleagues and managers understand what they’re going through.
- Provide resources. Undergoing fertility care can be emotionally, physically, and financially taxing. That’s why you may want to consider offering resources to support employees as they navigate their fertility journey. This can be anything from access to relationship therapy services to financial counseling. While these resources don’t seem like they have anything to do with fertility care, they can actually help employees better manage their stress and prioritize their wellness.
If your employees are undergoing fertility treatments, they’re likely in and out of doctor’s appointments all the time, dealing with lots of personal stress, and may even encounter loss or disappointment during the process. To feel supported during these situations, your employees need lots of empathy from people in their workplace. Here are a few ways you, your managers, company leaders, and colleagues can demonstrate empathy:
- Listen. One of the best things you can do for your employees during this time is to listen. Let them tell you – instead of assuming – exactly what they need as they undergo fertility treatments. Then do everything you can to make those modifications for them. You can also simply be a supportive figure by giving them a safe space to discuss their fears, stresses, and concerns.
- Allow flexible hours. On a related note, you may want to consider giving your employees flex time. This thoughtful gesture gives people the option to set their own hours so that they can work around their appointments. Not only does this relieve a lot of mental burden, but it may also boost productivity levels for your employees since they can adjust their schedule to work during times they know they won’t be distracted.
- Respect their privacy. Sometimes, fertility treatments don’t go as planned. When this happens, it can be an extremely painful experience. You should be prepared to support your employees if they want to talk about it, but you should also be ready to respect their privacy if they don’t. Use your sense of empathy to recognize what your employees need in those difficult moments.
Offer fertility benefits
Of course, the most impactful ways you can support employees is to provide fertility benefits at your organization. Given that treatments can cost thousands (and frequently tens of thousands) of dollars, this type of financial support is critical. Not to mention that the right vendor can support your employees through complex and stressful processes. But not all fertility benefits are created equal. Here are the traits to look for in a high-quality vendor:
- Inclusive. Look for inclusive plans that offer the best fertility care to every employee – not just heterosexual couples or those with an infertility diagnosis. Otherwise, you’re isolating an important part of your demographic. We believe everyone – regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status – should have the opportunity to start a family, and your vendor should be able to offer services that reflect those values.
- Global. Your fertility benefits vendor should also be able to accommodate a global workforce. This ensures the vendor scales with your company and can serve as a resource when you expand into other parts of the world. Given that fertility is approached in very different ways around the globe, your vendor needs to have the expertise to work with employees everywhere – whether that’s in the U.S., Asia, or Europe.
- Quality care navigation. Finally, it’s important to make sure your fertility benefit vendor has the capacity to handle all aspects of care management – from connecting employees to the right provider to answering tough questions along the way. This means having a super responsive and knowledgeable team in place who has the ability to help your employees during their fertility journey. This type of support is ultimately what will make your organization stand out from others.
As an HR leader, there are tons of things you can do to support employees that are undergoing fertility care. If you’re interested in learning more about Carrot and how we can create a customized fertility benefits plan for your organization, let us know.
This is the first article in a three-part series about how to best support your employees as they undergo a range of treatments and processes to start their own families. Keep an eye out for our next post, which will focus on how to support your employees through the adoption process.