Over the last three 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 really stop and 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, seemingly leapfrogging other commitments, like work, in the minds of many.
"Not only can it help to promote an accepting work environment, but the crossroads of starting a family vs prioritising a career can also cause your business to lose valuable talent."
Colm Power, Managing Director
A battle between career progression and starting a family
According to research commissioned by the Department of Children, nearly a third of Irish parents said difficulty arranging childcare had made them turn down or leave a job. Furthermore, a survey conducted earlier this year by recruitment site Indeed, highlighted that 40% of women have considered quitting their job in the last 12 months, citing burnout and the pressures of family life as the reasons for thinking about leaving the workforce.
As a result, there now seems to be a much 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 therefore 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.
What are family-forming benefits?
Family-forming benefits focus on alleviating the potential struggles faced by couples that are 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.
Not only can it help to promote an accepting work environment, but the crossroads of starting a family vs prioritising a career can also cause your business to lose valuable talent. Financially investing into your people to make starting a family more manageable alongside work, can help to not only communicate their value to you as their employer, but demonstrate your commitment to honouring and accommodating for their life goals and aspirations.
Family-forming benefits can include:
- Adoption-specific leave
- Financial assistance
- Access to fertility medications, egg harvesting and freezing services
- Support with fertility treatments (be that dedicated leave or financial assistance)
- Visits with counsellors (e.g geneticists and surrogacy supervisors)
- Support with genetic testing
- Paternity support for new fathers
- Help to develop more inclusive HR policies
It all starts with culture
Despite the advantages of adding family-forming benefits to your employee benefits offering, it can require a considerable financial commitment from a business. However, that isn’t to say that there’s nothing else your business can do to support employees looking to start a family.
Aside from the financial investment into these dedicated benefits, the root of offering the right support is a culture that has diversity and inclusion at its core. Offering the relevant benefits is great, but 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 when for a related absence
- Writing family-forming inclusivity into core policies
- Educating your people on challenges faced by LGBTQIA2+ couples and couples with fertility issues, to 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.
Ultimately, demonstrating a commitment to supporting couples that need additional family-forming support can be a fundamental solution to a variety of your ‘staffing’ issues.
Whether you’re able to support financially by offering relevant family-forming employee benefits, or culturally by maintaining a diverse, inclusive and accepting workforce and policies, it can:
- 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)