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The world of work is changing, and so is the definition of a valuable employee benefit. Today, it’s about more than just gym memberships and ping-pong tables.
Beyond the physical, companies now focus on supporting employees’ journeys to create the families they desire. As infertility rates climb and diverse family structures become the norm, employees crave support beyond the standard health insurance.
This article explores the potential of fertility benefits – not just for employee well-being but as a recruiting and retention magnet in the ever-evolving workplace landscape.
The Shift in Employee Priorities
Talented employees are no longer solely chasing the traditional markers of success.
The global pandemic has sparked a significant reevaluation of priorities and increased emphasis on work-life balance, not just for individuals but also for corporate America.
This is part of a larger demographic trend where societal attitudes are shifting, and employees are seeking workplaces that align with their values and life goals, including starting a family.
Globally, infertility affects approximately one-sixth of the population, according to a new report by the WHO. In America, infertility statistics show that an estimated 10% of women or their partners have received medical help to get pregnant.
Unfortunately, despite the need for fertility services, there are many hurdles and varying levels of stigma associated with experiencing infertility.
Millions of people yearn to build families yet face complex barriers – sky-high costs, unequal coverage, and societal stigmas often block their path to parenthood.
For these reasons, today’s workers are redefining traditional healthcare benefits and expect support and benefits from employers from preconception to postpartum.
Beyond that, they’re looking for employers who will meet their needs and understand the impact that fertility can have beyond just physical health. Social, financial, and mental health challenges associated with infertility and coordinating clinical care systems are also significant.
The Rise of Fertility Benefits for Employees
One decade ago, Facebook and Apple made headlines for offering a novel employee benefit: egg freezing. At the time, offering such an unconventional perk aimed at attracting and retaining young tech talent was seen as typical for Silicon Valley. Still, it was out of reach for most of the American workforce.
Today, fertility benefits for employees are experiencing a dramatic rise, with 40% of US companies now providing them – a 10% increase from 2020, according to the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans.
Adding to this momentum, the US Office of Personnel Management will expand coverage for federal employees in 2024, offering a lifeline to countless families.
When we consider that Millennials and Gen Z, the largest working population in the US, are entering family-forming years, it’s clear why fertility benefits have quickly emerged as a top priority.
As more employees delay marriage and family-building, they want access to services that can holistically support these life choices. This includes offering benefits like flexible work schedules, remote work and telecommuting options, and extended parental leave policies.
As such, fertility benefits have expanded to include:
The Role of Fertility Benefits in Employee Recruitment
Recently, the baby-clothing company “Kyte Baby” received backlash for firing an employee who requested to work remotely when their adopted newborn was born prematurely and admitted into a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
This recent example is a reminder of the power of public scrutiny in today’s digital age and how quickly a brand’s reputation can crumble under the weight of a misstep, especially when it touches upon sensitive issues like family and childcare.
On the other hand, companies that show genuine care and understanding by offering comprehensive fertility benefits are creating a competitive edge in the talent market.
So, are fertility benefits the new frontier in employee recruitment?
According to Carrot Fertility’s “2023 Global Fertility at Work” report:
- 75% of employees consider fertility benefits as an important part of an inclusive company culture.
- 65% would change jobs to work for a company that offers fertility benefits.
- 72% would stay at their employer longer if they had access to fertility benefits.
Supporting employees through life’s biggest challenges sends a clear and powerful message about your commitment to their well-being, boosting your employer brand.
According to research, family-forming benefits build loyalty in employees, with 61% of employees who have this coverage saying they felt more committed and loyal to their employer. Furthermore, 88% of women who received IVF with their employers’ support returned to work after their maternity leave.
However, fertility benefits extend beyond loyalty and employee satisfaction.
It comes as no surprise that as much as three-quarters of employers cite competitive pressure to attract and retain talent as the primary reason to offer family-friendly benefits.
Incorporating Fertility Benefits as a Recruitment Strategy
The most common approach adopted by 31% of the companies that provide fertility benefits is reimbursement – to help cover the cost of fertility medications (76%) and in-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment costs (77%).
Aside from financial assistance, 20% of employers are combating infertility stigma through education and awareness campaigns. On top of that, as much as 78% of the best workplaces for parents support employees with finding childcare, making childcare a mainstream benefit necessary for supporting working parents.
While the positive impacts of fertility benefits on employee recruitment are evident, Amy Spurling, Founder and CEO of Compt, highlights some complexities, “One of the main challenges is the perception of exclusivity. Fertility benefits, while valuable, may not be relevant to all employees, leading to a perception of inequality.
Additionally, the cost implications of implementing and maintaining these benefits can be significant, requiring companies to balance this with other financial priorities. Fertility and family planning are also sensitive topics that must be approached with care to avoid alienating or offending employees.”
Amy Spurling suggests that a better approach is offering broader family benefits or a family stipend. She explains, “A family stipend or more generalized family benefits are inclusive and versatile, allowing employees to use the resources in a way that best fits their unique family situations.
This could include adoption, surrogacy, fertility treatments, or even childcare or elder care. By providing a stipend or a range of family benefits, companies can support an even broader spectrum of family planning and care needs, ensuring that all employees feel included and valued, regardless of their personal choices or circumstances.”
Financial Impact of Fertility Treatments
While the decision to start a family is a deeply personal one, the financial burden of fertility treatments is equally overwhelming for many.
Cost barriers are restricting access to family-forming options in many countries across the world, but in the United States, the situation is particularly dire, as most states do not require private insurers to provide fertility benefits.
As a result, over 80% of those who undergo fertility treatments have little to no insurance coverage.
However, the out-of-pocket costs for fertility treatments such as IVF can easily exceed $10,000, and any other necessary fertility medications can double the cost. On top of that, for many people, it takes multiple IVF cycles or egg retrievals before they can get pregnant, meaning these costs can double, triple, or even quadruple.
With such high prices, it’s not surprising that only 32% of employees say they can afford fertility treatments if needed, and 29% may incur debt to pay for them.
When discussing the financial impact of fertility treatments, often, the focus is on the cost of IVF and similar assisted reproductive costs. However, many employees seek alternative pathways to parenthood through adoption or surrogacy, which also comes with substantial costs.
By offering fertility benefits, companies can alleviate some of the financial stress and provide much-needed support to employees during this critical phase of their lives.
Inclusive Fertility Benefits
Infertility is a universal hardship that can affect anyone, regardless of gender, age, socioeconomic status, or geographic location.
However, for marginalized populations and other groups, challenges with infertility and family forming are even more pronounced.
Employers must consider:
- Navigating unique fertility and family-forming options for LGBTQ+ community couples
- Supporting single parents by choice
- Cultural and regulatory considerations
- Exploring alternative family-forming pathways, surrogacy, gestational surrogacy, adoption, and foster care services
Recognizing this, companies are adapting their benefits to embrace diverse paths to parenthood and family formation.
Today, progressive companies prioritize inclusivity and diversity, catering to the needs of all their employees. Recent research confirms this shift:
- 66% of employers now offer fertility benefits for all family types, with another 9% planning to expand in the coming year.
- About 40% of companies extend coverage beyond the traditional “infertility diagnosis” requirement to support diversity, inclusion, and equity (DEI) efforts.
- 90% of employers ensure equitable coverage across sexual orientation, identities, and marital statuses.
Can Fertility Benefits Boost Recruitment?
In conclusion, the surge in fertility benefits isn’t just a post-pandemic trend; it’s a revaluation of what attracts and retains top talent in today’s competitive landscape.
Companies committed to DEI and employee happiness are realizing that family-building support extends beyond traditional models, embracing more fertility options to cater to diverse needs.
George Yang, Founder of Yanre Fitness and Oxygenark, shares his firsthand experience, “When companies offer fertility benefits, not only do they attract a wider pool of candidates, but they also enhance the image of the company as an inclusive and supportive employer. At Oxygenark, we have some employees who have been attracted to our fertility benefits.”
In a world where talent is increasingly scarce, companies that demonstrate genuine care and support for their employees’ families are positioned to attract and retain the best.
Written by Ivana Radevska
Senior Content Writer at Shortlister
- 1 in 6 people globally affected by infertility: WHO
- CDC’s Public Health Surveillance of Women, Infants and Children
- What you need to know about egg-freezing, the hot new perk at Google, Apple, and Facebook (Business Insider)
- Federal Employees Health Benefits Program Call Letter
- Millennials in the Workplace Statistics: Generational Disparities in 2023
- The Costs of Surrogacy: What You Need to Know
- How Much Does It Cost to Adopt a Child?
- Parents at the Best Workplaces (Great Places to Work)
- New survey finds employers adding fertility benefits to promote DEI (Mercer)
- Coverage and Use of Fertility Services in the U.S. (KFF)
- Fertility at work: A global report from Carrot Fertility
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