An increasing number of organisations across the UK are recognising the importance of implementing Fertility Friendly practices and policies; this is evident, with an increase in the search term ‘Fertility Friendly’¹ in the past month and an increase in workplaces interested in fertility support services.
The majority of organisations leading the way in their commitment to becoming Fertility-friendly to date are medium to large, yet the principle is the same whether you have three or 3,000 employees.
Community Interest Company (CIC) Fertility Matters at Work has recently developed its SME tool kit and shares five ways businesses can commit to becoming Fertility Friendly:
With 1 in 6² people being impacted by infertility issues, whatever size your organisation is, fertility is likely a wellbeing issue you must consider. The first step to committing to being Fertility Friendly as a small business is ‘acknowledgement’. By recognising infertility as an issue within the workplace, you can demonstrate empathy and understanding towards some of the diverse challenges your employees could face.
Acknowledging employees can help alleviate the emotional burden carried by those dealing with infertility, reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety. If employees feel that their personal struggles are being acknowledged and recognised, it will also signal that the workplace is a safe space to share and seek support.
- Be open to learning and understanding
Starting the conversation and encouraging a culture of openness is key for SMEs to become Fertility Friendly. This can be done by inviting people who feel comfortable to share their lived experiences, which helps bring to life fertility challenges and the potential impact on employees, such as the physical, emotional, and psychological toll fertility can have on a person’s work life. If there isn’t anyone internally who can share, Fertility Matters at Work provides free downloadable resources and a podcast, ‘The F Word at Work’, to allow businesses of all sizes to understand this issue better, as well as the impact on individuals and businesses.
- Building internal support networks
Building internal support networks within an organisation is extremely important for employees, as it’s a chance for co-workers to communicate about their unique challenges within a safe space. Connecting with other individuals going through fertility issues can be incredibly helpful during this journey, and such networks, no matter how big or small, can foster a sense of belonging and reduce the isolation often felt by those dealing with fertility struggles.
Internal support networks and an opportunity for peer support provide a refuge for open dialogue, enabling employees to seek advice, share resources, and access emotional support from colleagues who have walked a similar path.
- External signposting
Ensuring that your organisation gives access to external signposting resources for employees grappling with fertility issues is a crucial aspect of a comprehensive and supportive workplace strategy. These external resources, such as charities, support organisations, counselling services, credible podcasts and patient-led organisations, offer expert guidance and assistance beyond the organisation’s immediate capabilities.
- Take it one step further with a clear policy
A policy dedicated to fertility reflects an organisation’s commitment to supporting its employees’ wellbeing and acknowledges the multifaceted challenges individuals may face on their fertility journey. Businesses create a more inclusive and empathetic environment by offering provisions such as flexible work arrangements, leave options, and sometimes coverage for fertility treatments.
Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.