The COVID-19 pandemic is having a major impact worldwide, with all of us experiencing changes to the way we live and work. Those of us lucky enough to have been working remotely during the pandemic have experienced a blurring of the line between home and work. So, it comes as no surprise to long-time HR professional and Gynii Me “people and organisation” advisor, Tarquin Bennett-Coles, that COVID-19 has shifted the work goals of many.
A recent interview with Tarquin discussing the ins and outs of corporate fertility benefits has uncovered a new trend in what those in the job market are looking for – as well as the shortfall in what employers themselves are offering. The full interview can be read here.
“Many employees are questioning what they really want to be doing in their lives and careers. People are thinking about the uncertainty of the future and what it means for traditional life milestones, such as having children. Many are wondering about having children and how their current work situation might impact the timing of this milestone”, Tarquin says.
At the same time, Tarquin has seen the talent pool becoming increasingly highly risk-averse, with many candidates now rejecting top-notch job offers because of a mismatch with their new work ideals.
“These changes in ideals have made it much harder for companies to both attract and retain talent. The cost of recruitment is very high, and the average active member of the working population will change jobs every 2 – 3 years, so retaining them for another few years is really valuable for businesses.”
Now, more than ever, it’s important for companies to be re-evaluating what their policies and employee benefit offerings are saying about their values.
Tarquin agrees. “When it comes to securing top talent, a company’s ability to differentiate their workplace offering from their competitors is probably the biggest factor right now. The ability to match the individual’s values can sometimes be the one thing that convinces a candidate that this is the right company for them.”
According to Tarquin, fertility-related benefits in particular can be highly attractive to the talent pool, since:
- 1 in 7 couples in the UK encounter difficulties with conceiving
- The average age of a first-time mother is 30 in the UK, when natural fertility is already beginning to decline
- 1 in 4 women experience miscarriage
- The number of women turning to egg freezing, as a way of delaying parenthood so they can pursue their career, is increasing
- Single parenthood is an option for some; the number of single women pursuing IVF treatment has increased by 35% since 2014
- 60% of fertility treatment in the UK is privately funded, due to reduced NHS funding; this can mean costs of up to £24,000 for multiple rounds of IVF treatment
- Fertility treatment is a key pathway for LGBTQI+ individuals who wish to build a family. With only 14% of LGBTQ+ individuals feeling fully supported by their employer, fertility-focused benefits can contribute to a more inclusive workplace
- IVF success rates are only 30%, adding to the financially, physically and emotionally draining nature of fertility treatment. Companies able to support employees during this challenging time can make a big impact to their quality of life.
“Fertility and family-building benefits are not uncommon. Companies such as Starbucks, who offer these benefits can really stand out from the crowd and have already seen improvements in worker loyalty and productivity.
Fertility benefits don’t just mean giving your employees the odd few hours off to attend appointments as necessary. I like the phrase 'to treat everyone the same you’ve got to treat them differently' – and in this instance, that means providing packages that work for individuals. Often where people feel the most isolated is with emotional support. It can be hugely powerful knowing you have support at work if things don’t go to plan.
It’s important for employees to feel well supported by their employers in something as emotionally-charged as fertility. In turn, these companies also benefit from 'word of mouth' feedback, with employees sharing how their employer makes an impact on their personal lives. In the age of social media, companies working to support their employees are also ensuring that the impact their employees talk about is positive.”