Fertifa, a leading provider of fertility, menopause and family-forming benefits and Fertility Network UK, the nation’s leading patient-focused fertility charity, have released the results of a workplace survey which explores the impact of fertility challenges upon working life.
Mental health impact
The survey, which was answered solely by working women and men who are either experiencing fertility struggles or have in the past, reveals that 9 out of 10 people suffer with a combination of anxiety (91%), stress (89%), and depression (88%).
This in turn has a marked effect on workplace performance. 56% experienced decreased job satisfaction while trying to conceive and 38% had seriously considered leaving their job, or had in fact quit.
63% of respondents admitted to reduced engagement at work and 36% had to take increased sickness absence.
Katie Beck, CEO of Fertifa, says: ‘I know from personal experience that the process of trying to conceive and going through fertility treatment can be all-consuming and have a significant impact on your working life, so sadly, these results aren’t surprising. If employers can show that they support individuals through this process it’s a win on both sides, with long-term loyalty and retention benefits for businesses.’
48% of people going through fertility treatment report significant financial worries. With the average cost of a cycle of IVF standing at £3,500 and the chances of success just one in three, the costs can really mount up, leading to serious debt and worries about future security.
Gwenda Burns, CEO of Fertility Network UK says: ‘Infertility affects 3.5 million men and women across the UK, which equates to one in six couples. The demographics of those people impacted by fertility issues mean they are likely to form a core element of every employer’s workforce. It is therefore vital that employers are able to support those impacted, so levels of distress associated with fertility treatment are reduced and employees are more likely to be productive and remain in the workplace.’
Signs of change
Almost 80% of people did inform their employer about their fertility journey, suggesting that the workplace taboo is starting to break. However, 60% of the survey respondents were not honest about the time taken off for appointments and fertility-related illness. This indicates that there is still work to be done with getting workplace policies right and in instilling a culture of openness so that employees needn’t feel guilty about taking the time they need to get their treatment.
Katie Beck adds: ‘It is encouraging that there has been a gradual increase in understanding on the employer side. We’ve seen many more businesses come forward in the past twelve months, announcing that they have introduced a new fertility policy or some level of workplace support. As awareness and uptake continues to grow, we would expect to see clear improvements in these survey results.’
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