Whether or not you are personally affected by infertility, chances are high that someone you love is struggling behind closed doors. It’s an unfortunate reality, and though navigating the sensitive and emotional conversations surrounding infertility can be incredibly challenging, they are a crucial part of destigmatizing these all-too-common health issues and cultivating an atmosphere of support rather than shame.
Some of these difficult conversations are inevitably necessary for the workplace to increase the number of companies offering fertility and family planning benefits. Nearly a third of large employers will offer benefits such as access to fertility treatment coverage and adoption and surrogacy benefits by the end of 2023, and almost another third will consider it.
Whether you’re a worker who wants your employer to add a fertility and family planning benefit for personal needs or to advocate for your peers and loved ones, you can drive positive change by speaking with your HR department via a thoughtful, informed approach.
Your 7-step process to advocate for new benefits
1. Bring others along
If going to HR alone feels overwhelming, consider asking a few additional employees if they would be a part of the conversation and willing to share their story if they have gone through their own family-building journey. If your organization has an Employee Resource Group (ERG) established for parents, women, people in the LGBTQIA+ community, or other groups who would likely benefit from adding fertility and family building to your plan, they could also be great allies to have in your corner to help push the ask along. Even if you want the conversation to remain between you and your HR leader, having these people in your back pocket to campaign on the benefit’s behalf, should you need them, could be a great resource.
2. Come with solutions in mind
Come with a few solutions of your own in mind. Not all HR leaders know about fertility and family planning benefits. It’s a good idea to do some research to know exactly what benefit options are out there, what treatments/procedures are critical for you and your colleagues to have covered (IVF, egg freezing, surrogacy, etc.), and what the average costs of those are.
3. Include statistics
It’s great to come to the table with statistics from reliable sources such as FertilityIQ, RESOLVE, and ASRM that show how adding a fertility benefit helps their bottom line. For example, Progyny clients typically save 25-30% compared to a traditional carrier program. We can demonstrate how paying for expensive fertility treatments impacts employee stress levels and work productivity and how these benefits are essential in employee recruitment and retention efforts.
4. Start with email
Start with an email to HR before meeting 1:1 to give them time to investigate potential resources. Something simple is best, such as the example below.
“Hi, NAME! Reaching out to see if we could set up a quick meeting to discuss the potential of adding a new benefit. I’ve done some initial research we can chat through during our discussion.”
5. Know what questions to ask
A few key questions to make sure you incorporate into the conversation with HR are:
- What do our current benefits cover, and what are the parameters of care and cost?
- Have you considered providing fertility benefits before, and if so, why were they not implemented?
- What is the process like for approval of adding this benefit?
If cost is an issue, let them know that there are different options and levels of coverage that can best meet the company’s budget and the employee’s needs
6. Set your expectations and be patient
Going through the approval process of adding a new benefit can take time. For example, if you have a plan year that starts January 1st, most benefit decisions are evaluated in Q2 the following year. While this is a long-lead process, know that your voice still matters and that if you haven’t heard anything from your HR representative in two weeks, a quick follow-up to check on the status of your conversation is more than acceptable.
In most cases, you should expect to hear back by the middle to end of Q3 if a benefit is being added. You may hear sooner if it’s deferred for another year but don’t be discouraged. Ask your HR team if there are ways you can advocate for adding the benefit in the future.
7. Find a sponsor
If fertility and family planning is a sensitive topic for you due to a personal situation, and you don’t feel comfortable contacting HR directly, please know that going to someone within your organization to campaign for you and the benefit is always an option. This could be your manager, an ERG leader, or any colleague with knowledge of the inner processes of your company.
For the full workbook on how to talk to your employer about fertility benefits, click here.
Cassandra Pratt is SVP of people at Progyny where she brings her expertise in leading human resources, talent acquisition, learning and development, and employee experience at growth stage companies. Prior to joining Progyny, Cass was director of talent at SignPost and TravelClick.