(BPT) - The pandemic has forever changed how, where and why we work. As a result, employers and employees alike are re-evaluating workplace benefits, including family-building benefits like parental leave and fertility treatments. Yet, recent data from the Society for Human Resource Management reveals that the number of employers offering benefits like paid maternity, paternity and adoption leave has actually decreased from 2020 to 2022, indicating a shift backward — despite leave benefits remaining among the top-ranked benefits employers felt organizations should offer.
If companies are serious about centering their workplace around employee needs to help attract and retain the best talent, they should focus on supporting employees by offering benefits they need — and deeply appreciate.
Employers should set a higher standard for family support
Providing employees with expanded paid family leave packages is one way companies can offer meaningful support and encourage employees to stay with a company.
For example, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, which develops treatments in areas that include reproductive medicine and maternal health, has launched an initiative called "Building Families at Ferring," which puts family-building at the forefront of their employee benefits package. All of the company's global and U.S. employees are now eligible for 26 weeks of paid parental leave — for both birthing and non-birthing parents. The company is also providing unlimited financial support for employees on the fertility journey.
"It’s so important that companies look at what kind of support they are providing for employees on their family-building journey and ask themselves, ‘is this enough, could we do more?’,” said Purvi Tailor, Vice President of Human Resources at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, U.S. “Companies can get started by first listening to what their people need, and finding a trusted benefits management partner who can help ask the right questions and put a program in place."
Employees should look for these benefits
If you are an employee or looking for a job, pay attention to the variety of family building benefits offered by companies. As there is currently no minimum standard for paid leave in the U.S., it’s important to understand what employers are offering.
For example, does the company have policies regarding fertility treatments or adoption? Infertility impacts 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. and unfortunately, this has repercussions beyond the physical. In fact, 60% of people being treated for infertility believe the diagnosis and treatment of infertility has negatively impacted their mental health, causing their relationships to suffer and/or emotional strain.
"I know these challenges all too well, as I struggled with infertility. Thankfully, I have a beautiful daughter that my husband and I welcomed via gestational surrogacy after four years of fertility treatments and trying to carry the baby on my own," Tailor continued.
And because there are many ways to build a family, look for policies that apply to all employees regardless of gender, sexual orientation, relationship status or how they choose to parent. Look for policies that support the variety of time, financial and emotional strains that often accompany the family building journey. So, it’s important to consider benefits like:
- Financial support for fertility, adoption and surrogacy processes
- Extra time off for fertility treatments, appointments and adoption proceedings as part of their benefits package
- Support for pregnancy loss, including miscarriage or stillbirth
Tailor found that Ferring employees responded to their new family-friendly policies at first with surprise, then joy.
"Some people said they didn’t think they could build their families before, but now with this support, they feel like they can move forward," added Tailor. "I had a very long journey from the fertility perspective. While I'm so grateful for how it ended, this amazing set of benefits would have been a game changer as my partner and I went through our journey."
Benefits packages that go beyond to support family-building, along with an employee’s emotional needs, demonstrate how much a company values each employee as an individual – giving them the tools and support they need to be great employees and feel good about themselves and their lives.
"Moving forward, more progressive family-building benefits must be the norm," Tailor continued. "I'm thrilled that we’re able to provide these benefits to our people, and I hope we will be an example for other companies to follow as they develop and build on their own policies."
Learn more about the Building Families initiative at FerringUSA.com.