Once a perk offered by only the most innovative companies, fertility benefits are no longer a nice-to-have. As the workplace becomes more diverse and people continue to start families later in life, employees are increasingly looking to their employers for support on their path to parenthood.

67% of LGBTQ+ employees plan to use assisted reproductive technology, adoption, or surrogacy to start a family. Whilst a further one in three employees want additional support for family-building from their workplace, whether that be financial coverage or access to emotional support. As fertility becomes a wider issue globally, fertility and family-building benefits are proving a tactical way for companies to attract and retain top talent.

The state of fertility care in the U.K. today

According to the British Fertility Society, up to 15% of heterosexual couples in the UK will experience fertility issues—and rates are rising. Research also shows a decline in male fertility, while many women are delaying parenthood until their mid to late 30s when fertility is known to decline

But fertility issues don’t just impact heterosexual people. Same-sex couples, pre- and post-op trans people, and single parents are also affected, and often seek support with  starting a family through fertility treatments, adoption, or surrogacy.

This has led to an upward spike in the number of those seeking fertility care. A report from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HEFA) found that egg and embryo-freezing increased by 64% between 2019 to 2021, whilst IVF cycles increased by 33% in female same-sex couples and 44% for single parents.

Yet despite IVF success rates tripling in the last 20 years, the number of NHS-funded cycles has decreased. UK guidelines state that women under 40 are entitled to three full IVF cycles; however, this rarely happens outside of Scotland. In England, many are subject to a “postcode lottery,” with some areas offering no NHS funded cycles at all. Certain parts of the UK have also seen dramatic cuts to funding, making it almost impossible for people to access public fertility coverage and leave them to face the potentially financially-crippling decision to go private.

For the LGBTQ+ community, the path to parenthood is even harder. The UK Government’s 2022 Women’s Health Strategy pledges to end discriminative IVF policies. However, according to BPAS Fertility, female same-sex couples are often still required to self-fund at least three cycles before being eligible for NHS IVF treatment. For those who chose adoption or surrogacy, costs can total up to £60,000 with years of assessments and procedures to contend with.

Financial trauma is just one contributor to the stress, anxiety, and depression often experienced during fertility treatment. One study revealed 50% of women and 15% of men reported infertility to be the most upsetting experience of their lives. Another survey by Fertility Network UK found that two in five fertility patients had experienced suicidal feelings, with most wanting access to therapy.

Understanding fertility benefits

With people not receiving the financial and emotional care they need for fertility through the NHS, it’s vital that employers step up and fill the gaps. Fertility benefits are an employer-provided program that help people to plan and build their families. They can support the financial aspects of treatments by covering costs of appointments and medication, while also commonly providing access to fertility specialists, mental health support, and clinically vetted content.

Fertility benefits offered by UK employers commonly support journeys including:

  • Fertility testing and consultations
  • Egg and sperm freezing
  • IVF and IUI 
  • Surrogacy
  • Adoption
  • Fertility leave

Aside from financial assistance and reimbursement programs, effective fertility benefits should support the entire journey of family-building. Fertility treatments can be demanding on both a person’s mental and physical health; therefore, a benefit program should encompass financial, clinical and emotional support.

Clinical health includes matters such as preconception support, providing access to specialists and vetted clinics who can advise on treatments, and preserving future fertility. Regardless of a person’s journey into parenthood, their emotional health will also be affected. Support from mental health professionals can help with situations such as prolonged infertility, pregnancy loss, adoption challenges, and the general anxiety surrounding reproduction. 

How fertility benefits help employees—and your organisation

Fertility benefits are no longer a workplace perk—they’re a must-have element to all talent acquisition and employee engagement strategies. 

Employees are no longer solely focused on salary. Benefits have an overall higher stake in retention and job attraction than before, and according to a recent Maven report, fertility benefits are among the top five most-requested benefit types. This demand is tenfold when it comes to those who struggle with infertility or who delay parenthood until later in life.

According to the Reproductive Medicine Associates of New Jersey (RMANJ), almost seven out of 10 millennials would seek a new role that provided fertility benefits. Those who do have access are shown to be more loyal, not only by staying in their job but by recommending their company to others too.

Read more: Why fertility benefits need to be a priority in 2023

For current employees, fertility benefits can be linked to increased engagement. The emotional and financial burden of fertility treatment often impacts productivity—understandable considering the toll it takes on a person’s time and energy. However, research suggests that by supporting employees’ mental and financial health, organisations can expect reduced stress, improved focus and better overall engagement. 

Unsurprisingly, more organisations are looking to implement family-building benefits to do right by their people and reap the rewards. Leading companies that offer fertility benefits in the UK, have openly shared their commitment to supporting employees’ on their journey to and through parenthood through fertility leave and treatment coverage.

Bumble recently evolved their Pregnancy & Newborn Care offering to include Fertility and Family Building benefits, as well as Maven Wallet, which provides global coverage for IVF/IUI, egg freezing, and adoption—the majority of which has been utilised by employees in the UK.

“Even though we have employees all over the world, Maven helps us navigate the ins and outs of each country,” says Jes Schneider, Senior Manager of Global Compliance and Payroll at Bumble. “For example, I’ve never had to personally learn what the NHS does and does not cover—Maven’s team are experts in coverage in the countries our employees live and work in. It’s super helpful.”

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Implementing fertility benefits in the workplace

Before developing a fertility benefit program, employers must understand that reproductive care is an overarching healthcare issue. There is no one-size-fits-all solution—instead, a “one-size-fits-one” approach should encompass the spectrum of individual needs your employees may experience, from preconception to fertility treatment, adoption, and even maternity and postnatal care.

Inclusive end-to-end fertility and family-building benefits should include:

  • Simple-to-use expense management
  • Inclusive coverage for all employees regardless of gender, sexual orientation, relationship status or location
  • Access to a trusted network of high-quality fertility clinics both through the NHS and privately, including local and virtual telehealth
  • Care management that guides employees through the benefits available to them
  • An evidence-based care model that aligns clinical, emotional, and financial support

Fertility coverage is a core part of fertility benefits therefore you may have concerns about cost management. But whilst fertility treatments can be expensive at an individual level, the ROI to the employer is significant. Family benefits like Maven show a 2:1 clinical ROI and 4:1 business ROI.

Promoting fertility benefits and encouraging employee well-being

For fertility benefits to be successful, your organisation must promote a family-first culture and facilitate employees to feel supported. 26% of people undergoing fertility treatment are concerned about the possible impact on their career, therefore the messaging that surrounds your fertility care program is a crucial part to its success.

Open conversations and inclusive, sensitive language is needed when sharing what support is available to an employee. This includes supporting policies such as flexible working hours and equal parental leave for mothers, fathers, same-sex couples, and those who have become parents through adoption or surrogacy.

Maven’s Fertility & Family-Building program also provides a care manager to engage employees and encourage them to use the benefits available to them. This forms part of an evidence-based care model which measures the impact and success of the program by focusing on families built and supported rather than the services provided. This type of care model ensures users have a tailored experience with individualised advice, recommendations, and guidance.

Building better fertility benefits with Maven

Supporting employees on their path to parenthood results in a happier, healthier workforce. By providing inclusive fertility and family-building benefits, you can improve loyalty to your organisation and overall productivity in the workplace. 

Now is the time to take the next step to building a fertility benefits program that supports your entire workforce. Maven Clinic is the leading global women’s and family healthcare company with a comprehensive fertility & family-building program. 24/7 access to clinical, emotional, and financial support helps members to build their family, their way. 83% of our Family Building members report being more productive during fertility treatment whilst having Maven’s support. 

Request a demo today to find out how Maven can support your employees to thrive at home and in their career through personalised fertility and family-building benefits.

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