Written by: Louise Siwicki, Senior Level Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
What impact does fertility really have on productivity in the workplace? How can conversations about fertility in the workplace become normalised? And how can a workplace better support the mental health of employees who are suffering infertility or going through the IVF process?
Let’s now discuss
In recent years, conversations about fertility have entered the mainstream. We discuss fertility treatments at the dinner table with our partners, and talk about egg or sperm freezing at brunch with our friends. However, there is still one place where fertility can remain taboo — the workplace.
Infertility impacts 1 in 8 people and it’s on the increase globally! Each year in Australia, more than 80,000 people go through a cycle of IVF. Not an insignificant number of people and therefore it's highly likely that most workplaces will have an employee experiencing miscarriage or undergoing treatment at some point. These numbers alone make infertility at work a critical issue, and one that as a society, we have trouble addressing. With numbers like this we all know someone who is battling infertility, or chances are we have been ourselves at some point.
It is time to normalise conversations about fertility in the workplace.
Much research has shown many people experiencing fertility problems are reluctant to speak to their employer about it because they fear it may have a detrimental effect on their careers. We know that some end up reducing their hours or leaving employment entirely as a result of their fertility problems.
This can be a challenge for employers both operationally and financially. This is why it is important to have a program in place so employees feel supported, and employers can get the best from them in difficult circumstances.
While providing leave to attend fertility assisted treatments is a massive move in the right direction, there still needs to be a focus on employee's mental health during the process. Our fertility needs to be looked at holistically not just in terms of leave required for these appointments.
There is so much emphasis at the moment on supporting the physical side of infertility and IVF. Providing employees with time off to attend appointments and physical procedures. But what has been neglected is the phycological impact IVF treatment has on the woman. It is just as important to consider employees' mental health and the impact infertility is having.
Research has shown that women dealing with infertility have depression and anxiety levels similar to those with cancer, H.I.V. and heart disease, and — through my career as well as my personal experiences — I have become intimately familiar with infertility's psychological impact.
The statistics around mental health and infertility are startling ‒ yet not talked about enough.
Studies conducted by the American National Library of Medicine showed 25% to 60% of people with infertility reported psychiatric symptoms, with anxiety and depression significantly higher than those not going through infertility.
Other important mental health fertility statistics:
76% of infertility patients experience anxiety.
56% of infertility patients experience depression.
39% of infertility patients meet the criteria for major depressive disorder.
9.4% of infertility patients report suicidal thoughts or attempts.
Too many patients go into treatments completely unprepared and unsupported, then become blindsided by things like anxiety, depression, trauma, and more. They're then left feeling even more isolated, confused, and broken...
It's essential to know the facts, to have support in place, and to be prepared not just physically for fertility treatments, but mentally too.
Through my own personal experience, and now in my career, I have become intimately familiar with the psychological impact of infertility and its insidious way of encroaching on every part of your life – including your ability to focus at work. I battled infertility and my busy corporate role at the same time. I too well understand the struggles employees face.
As a business, if you support women struggling to conceive by addressing their mental and emotional wellbeing, you will not only significantly decrease stress and anxiety levels, but in some cases, you may negate the need for medical interventions altogether.
Workplace fertility mental health support program
We are now all very aware of the phycological affect that infertility has on the person. It is also clear that many employees do not feel comfortable sharing their fertility journey with their workplace.
According to a Glassdoor survey, 67% of job seekers consider a diverse workplace an important factor when deciding to accept a position. And if employers don’t meet these needs, they’ll fall behind. In fact, 58% of benefits managers said that they would consider it discriminatory not to offer fertility benefits by 2025.
Change is a constant in the economy. Supporting employees’ fertility health and family-forming goals should be, too. By investing in fertility benefits, your company can reduce costs, maintain and expand your commitment to your employees welfare, and win over top talent— even during uncertain times!
I offer a range of employee fertility support packages for businesses. If you are interested in chatting further about how I can assist please do not hesitate to reach out. I can not wait to chat with you!
Louise Siwicki, Senior Level Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Louise Siwicki is a specialist in the fields of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy®, Hypnotherapy, and Fertility Coaching, expert. She offers specialized programs for both women and men suffering infertility issues through pregnancy and early parenthood.
She uses different practical processes and techniques to rewire the brain of her clients and build new neural pathways. This eliminates and heals the root cause of stress and anxiety, the negative emotions and limiting beliefs holding them back from achieving the success and happiness they desire in life.
After suffering through 6 years of infertility issues herself, she has since dedicated her life to supporting women and men through this very challenging time in their lives. She is the founder and CEO of “Louise Siwicki Coaching,” author of "The Secret to Getting Pregnant is not Just in Your Body but in Your Mind" and a public speaker.
Her mission: To help everyone understand the importance of the mind and body connection. If you don’t master your mind, your mind will master you.