The Value of Employee Perks and Benefits
Finding and retaining top talent is always a top priority for any business, big or small. Having qualified people handling important projects, leading teams and developing strategies can mean the difference between success and failure. For years organizations have attempted to differentiate themselves from the competition by offering competitive pay, healthcare, insurance and retirement packages. Since the dot-com boom, many companies use workplace perks that go well beyond free coffee in the break room.
Companies can offer everything from workout rooms and tanning beds to free gourmet cafeterias and incredibly flexible work hours. Some have weekly dance parties, host laser tag events, or have video games and ping pong tables in the break room. But since March 2020, our way of life has changed. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people to work from home. Suddenly, all those office perks don’t seem that valuable anymore.
Fertility Benefits Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Just as important, today’s younger workforce needs and expects more personalized benefits, especially those associated with their physical, mental, family and financial health. So now is the perfect time to revisit what perks an employer can offer and update them to reflect its workers’ current needs and expectations. One such benefit that could have a widespread impact on an organization is fertility benefits. This can help individual employees, promote diversity, help retain talent and promote gender equality while also boosting the bottom line.
Why fertility benefits now? Fertility is a benefit that affects many aspects of life important to people today—physical, emotional, family and financial health. The pandemic has disrupted life in many significant ways. The risk of contracting or spreading the disease and the concern about possible long-term health issues from the virus weigh heavily on many people. And, as we know, the economy has taken a hit and left millions out of work and millions more facing the prospect of losing their homes. Understandably, with all this uncertainty, many couples have decided to delay starting or expanding a family.
This could lead to serious consequences, as one in eight Americans is diagnosed as infertile. Women are at their peak fertility until the age of 30, and after 35 it becomes significantly more difficult not only to conceive but also to carry a child to term. There are also physical and emotional tolls on women and their partners due to infertility. These delays and challenges will have an impact on demographics very soon. The Brookings Institution estimates there could be as many as half a million fewer births in the United States in 2020, which represents a 13-percent decline from 2019. Add to this the fact that in 2018 the American birth rate hit a 32-year low. The United States Census Bureau is forecasting that by 2034 the number of people over the age of 65 will outnumber those under 18 for the first time.
Fertility benefits can help address many of these challenges and be made available to everyone. This could help differentiate a company from its competitors, all while showing they are woman and family-friendly.
The Cost of Fertility Treatment Options
For employees, the support of this type of benefit is significant. The cost and variety of treatments and solutions can be wide-ranging. For some examples:
- Smartphone apps and/or wearable technology. This is the cheapest option and can help provide doctors with insight into where issues may lie or pinpoint peak fertility for women.
- Fertility drugs. These medications are used in female treatments to boost a woman’s chance of becoming pregnant. The drugs are designed to stimulate the development and maturation of eggs to increase the chances of fertilization with sperm either through intercourse or in a clinical setting. The cost for one round of the drugs is between $500 to $3,000.
- Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). A simple procedure that increases the chances sperm will reach an egg. After collection, the most active sperm are placed into the uterus using a catheter passed through the cervix. One cycle of IUI can cost $1,500 to $4,000, depending on the medications and level of monitoring the doctor requires.
- In-vitro fertilization (IVF). This is the most effective type of fertility treatment. It involves fertility drugs to stimulate the development of multiple eggs. The eggs are retrieved from the woman’s ovaries through a minor surgical procedure and fertilized with sperm. After fertilization, the embryo is placed back into the woman’s uterus. By replacing only a single embryo the risks of twins is reduced to approximately that in the general population. An IVF cycle costs between $15,000 to $25,000 including the fertility drugs.
- Third-Party Reproduction. Also known as donor-assisted reproduction, this involves using donated eggs, sperm or embryos from someone other than the intended parent(s). This is typically used for older women, men with no sperm, and people in a same-sex relationship. The average cost of a donor egg cycle is around $35,000, including the cost of obtaining eggs, lab work and transfer of an embryo into the uterus. A sperm donor cycle is more affordable, costing about $1,000 to $2,000 to obtain the sperm and place it in the uterus at the correct time in the woman’s cycle..
- Gestational Carriers or Surrogates. Certain infertility challenges may require third-party reproduction involving a woman becoming pregnant and carrying the baby to delivery for the intended parent(s). The egg and sperm can be provided by the intended parent(s) and/or donors. A surrogate may also supply the egg. Surrogates can cost anywhere between $60,000 to well over $100,000,. This includes agency and legal fees, as well as surgery.
The cost for some of these options could be out of reach for many employees, especially if they need more than one cycle to get pregnant.
Fertility Benefits Give Employers a Competitive Advantage
Fertility benefits are also beneficial for companies for many reasons. It helps make women feel welcome and builds the reputation of the organization as being family-friendly. Retaining women in the workplace is important for diversity. It is also important to help keep women on career trajectories that will enable them to advance to senior management and board positions.
For recruitment purposes, this benefit would make companies stand out. Most organizations offer similar levels of compensation and health care plans. With all things being equal, fertility benefits could be the added value that helps a candidate choose where they want to work. A study by Glassdoor found that 67 percent of job seekers felt workplace diversity was important when evaluating job offers. It would also help retain top talent. In fact, more than 32 percent of employees say they are more likely to stay with companies that offer this benefit.
Fertility benefits also increase loyalty and morale. Studies show that employees with access to this type of benefit expressed 1.5 times greater work satisfaction and were 2.5 times less likely to miss work. According to global research firm Gartner, companies with a culture of inclusion see 2.3 times more cash flow per employee and earn 1.4 times more revenue.
Without this type of benefit, employees who cannot afford IUI or IVF may turn to treatments that are cheaper and involve more risks, resulting in lower success rates but increased risk of poor outcomes such as multiple births. This could result in long-term costs to employer plans. Preterm births are a widespread complication for multiple births, and employers and private insurance take up almost 50 percent of all charges related to prematurity.
As we slowly return to a normally functioning economy, competition for the best and brightest recruits is sure to heat up. As with anything in business, organizations need to look for programs that give them an advantage over the competition. Fertility benefits can help a company stand out from the crowd, promote diversity and gender equality, all the while helping their employees and generating greater profit. The time is now to embrace this innovative solution.