Over the last 3 years, we have seen a profound change in the way that we think, work and live, driven by the significant ripple effect of the COVID pandemic and the ‘Great Resignation’ of 2021.
We have noted that hybrid working, and the flexibility that comes with it, has encouraged people to consider what is most important to them. Consequentially (and rather understandably), many have come to realise that family takes precedence when it comes to how they want to prioritise their time.
This is illustrated by the almost 2 million UK people that dropped out of the workforce due to family commitments, in the 12 months predating October 2022 alone (The Guardian).
As a result, there now seems to be a more prominent battle between career progression and starting a family, with the assumption being that one must make way for the other to become a possibility. This could suggest that people may not feel that their roles will accommodate for their journey to starting a family, especially if this journey involves additional steps – as can be the case with things like adoption and surrogacy.
Family-forming benefits focus on alleviating the potential struggles faced by couples exploring these options; the primary purpose of these benefits is to show your people that the choice doesn’t have to be starting a family OR progressing their career – they can do both. It can also promote inclusivity and acceptance; it can raise awareness of the struggles that LGBTQIA2+ couples and couples with fertility complications face when looking to start a family, which could help them to feel seen, understood and catered for.
The crossroads of starting a family vs prioritising a career can also cause your business to lose valuable talent. Financially investing into your people by helping to make starting a family more manageable alongside work, can help to not only communicate their value to you as their employer, but demonstrates your commitment to honouring and accommodating for their life goals and aspirations.
Family-forming benefits can include:
Access to fertility medications
Support with fertility treatments (be that dedicated leave or financial assistance)
Visits with counsellors (e.g geneticists and surrogacy supervisors)
Support with genetic testing
Access to egg harvesting and freezing services
Paternity support for new fathers
Help developing more inclusive HR policies
It all starts with culture
Aside from the financial investment into family-forming benefits, the root of offering the right support is a culture that has diversity and inclusion at its core. Without a work environment that is inclusive, accepting and accommodating, the benefits are just one piece of an incomplete puzzle.
Alternative support can include:
Recognising the processes involved for couples looking to start a family via adoption, surrogacy or additional fertility support
Granting additional days off for related absence
Writing family-forming inclusivity into core policies
Educating your people on challenges faced by LGBTQIA2+ couples and couples with fertility issues, to help foster understanding and acceptance throughout your people
Striving to eliminate taboos surrounding the LGBTQIA2+ community and stereotypical gender roles (e.g supporting paternity leave as well as maternity leave), to help encourage open, constructive conversations
Further areas of support can include:
Demonstrating a commitment to supporting couples that need family-forming support, can be a fundamental solution to a variety of staffing issues you may have. Supporting employees financially by offering relevant family-forming employee benefits and/or culturally by maintaining a diverse, inclusive and accepting workforce and policies, can help:
Retain talent that otherwise may have been thinking of leaving employment
Build a reputation as a generous employer, encouraging top talent to apply for your roles
Foster a diverse workforce which can help to build a more innovative, forward-thinking and profitable business (Why diversity matters | McKinsey)
In our latest guide we share some key areas to help you think strategically about your business’ employee benefits approach.
While we encourage you to think about the types of people that your business needs to continue growing, and advise you on how you can make your benefits offering and your business more attractive to your people.