During National Fertility Awareness Week, new research published by Peppy shows that 36% of employers do not currently offer fertility support to their staff. The research also shows that they have no plans to do so in the future.
Brands such as ASOS and Kellogg’s have announced providing support for people who are undergoing fertility treatment or have experienced a pregnancy loss.
According to Peppy, employers believe the most critical fertility issue with which employees need support is that of miscarriage and baby loss (33%). However, 30% of employers recognise that fertility is a topic that employees simply find difficult to raise with HR, line managers and colleagues. 30% of respondents stated that mental health issues associated with fertility struggles are a key area that requires support.
Interestingly, 29% of employers stated that it was not always obvious who need support. This is particularly in regards to men or those in “non-traditional” families.
Dr Mridula Pore, CEO of Preppy, says: “Fertility can be seen as a very binary issue—employees and their partners either are or aren’t pregnant. This monthly cycle of hope and despair can be particularly difficult for employers to manage.
“Employers need to think about providing support that not only deals with the practicalities of fertility treatment but crucially also encompasses comprehensive emotional support too. Not only offering a source of trusted professional support, but also a sense of community. It’s also really important to ensure support is available to all staff, so that employers are not making assumptions based on age, gender or situation.”
Minority Of Employers Offer Fertility Support
The research by Peppy also found that 22% of employers have always offered fertility support in the workplace. Another 15% put support in place in the last 12 months. In terms of those planning for the future, 11% are in the process of arranging fertility support now. Plus, 7% will do so in the next 12 months.
Dr. Pore, CEO of Peppy explains: “Fertility support is not just for those who will experience fertility problems but it is also about providing support and resources for staff at this significant time in their lives when they are starting or expanding a family.
“As a growing number of employers are finding, it makes good business sense to provide fertility support for employees. If employers do not offer support, employees may need to take time off to get that support elsewhere or indeed may not reach out for any support and suffer in silence. This has potential consequences for their employer, including loss in engagement and productivity and the risk of increased absence.”
Reluctance To Discuss Fertility And Lack Of Resources Are Barriers
Peppy found that 37% of employers agree that supporting employee fertility issues is hard. This is because of the reluctance amongst staff to discuss this topic. Around a third (30%) of employers find it difficult to manage how long employees need off work at this time. On the other hand, 19% said presenteeism (or working whilst not being fit to do so) was also an issue.
Nearly one in five (19%) said managing productivity and staff distraction was an issue. Alarmingly, 18% of employers had concerns about employees leaving work altogether when experiencing fertility issues.
Most businesses do not have the resources or expertise to deliver fertility support directly or effectively, says a Peppy press release. The company recommends appointing specialist support: “Employees are more likely to speak openly and can then benefit from personalised help. In addition, when the employer makes such support available, this also helps them build their brand and enhance their reputation.”
Dr. Pore concludes: “Fertility issues can, unfortunately, last for many years and be all-consuming for those involved. It’s really important that employers provide comprehensive support for both the practical and emotional issues surrounding fertility or they really do risk losing their most valuable asset.”
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