The founder of what he claims to be the UK’s “first Workplace Fertility Community” has said the new initiative will bring a new sense of understanding and a new type of employee benefits to workers across the country.
Tony Chen, who is also the CEO of Fertifa, said the not-for-profit initiative – which sees its formal launch later this month – will help to break what is “one last workplace taboo”.
He also said it would help decisions makers who often struggle with how to approach the subject of ferility and family wellbeing with their workforce.
Chen added that research shows that fertility challenges can affect anyone in the workplace, including men, women, same sex couples, single people and single parents.
According to Chen, one in six couples – or 3.5 million people – have experienced fertility challenges and over 70,000 IVF cycles are carried out each year in the UK.
Chen also said that LGBT+ employees who would like to start a family will need donor conception, surrogacy or adoption support.
As many as 90% of individuals encounter fertility issues experience some level of depression and 43% feel suicidal.
But the majority of employers are not “fully” recognising the impact this has on their business or providing adequate support.
Chen said that existing benefits such as employee assistance programmes, private medical insurance – as well as the NHS – do not provide “appropriate solutions” for many and fewer than 30% of organisations have a workplace fertility policy in place.
He said: “Proactively addressing employee fertility challenges has many benefits for employers.
“Absenteeism falls, workplace barriers are overcome and productivity increases.
“Offering guidance on fertility challenges, which often disproportionately impact women in the workplace, also positively supports the corporate agenda and regulatory frameworks around gender balance and diversity and inclusion.”
Employee recruitment and retention is also likely to improve if employers do more to address the issues of fertility and reproductive health.
He said: “We understand that for many employers taking the first steps towards building a supportive, open dialogue and integrated support system for employees can feel like a mountain to climb.
“The Community was founded to offer its members free access to peer networking opportunities, a series of educational events and both informal and formal support on any questions related to workplace fertility.”