To attract and retain talent, fertility and family-forming benefits parity is a must

silhouette of five person family holding hands on a hill it’s important for a fertility benefits program to be aligned with the financial and cultural nuances that exist wherever your workforce may live. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Among the many facets of life changed permanently by the pandemic, work is undoubtedly one of them. In September, a record 4.4 million people quit their jobs in the U.S. According to a recent North America Talent Attraction and Retention Survey from Willis Towers Watson, 73% of employers are currently having difficulty attracting employees, and roughly the same percentage of employers (70%) expect the difficulty to persist in 2022.

And as more employees opt for remote work, companies are recognizing the importance of providing a quality work experience that attracts talent no matter where they are in the world.

For many workers, that employee value proposition comes from comprehensive health and well-being benefits. And one category of benefits that continues to entice employees? Fertility and family-forming benefits. According to recent data from Carrot, 77% of employees would stay at their company longer if they offered fertility benefits, while 88% would even consider changing jobs for access to fertility benefits.

It’s clear that comprehensive fertility benefits are a key part of offering a competitive global benefits package – and an impactful way to attract and retain talent – but offering a global fertility benefits program is complex. Here are a few important aspects to consider when offering a global fertility benefits program for your workforce.

1. Understand the regulatory, financial and cultural nuances

It’s no surprise that different countries have different rules and regulations when organizing fertility health care and benefits coverage – whether that’s based on factors such as age, marital status, and sexual orientation, or a larger, more societal viewpoint on issues like mental health or abortion. In Poland, for example, in vitro fertilization (IVF) services are limited to heterosexual couples. In some countries, while it may be legal for individuals or LGBTQ+ couples to adopt a child, employees may struggle to find an agency to work with them.

As more and more companies look at how to support their global footprint and grow in new countries, it’s important for a fertility benefits program to be aligned with the financial and cultural nuances that exist wherever your workforce may live. It can take significant time and resources to understand the various local needs of your workforce in addition to the local cultural considerations for accessing various forms of care (relying on a partner can help – more on that below).

For example, elective egg freezing is technically available in Japan, but it isn’t as publicly discussed or widely accepted compared to some other countries, and only a small number of clinics offer this service. Having that insight could help a benefits leader provide clarity and resources for an employee going through the egg freezing process, while a lack of that knowledge could make access to these services virtually impossible.

2. Be aware of the cross-border care needed

If your employees reside in a location where certain fertility procedures are not allowed domestically, it may be legal for them to seek care in another country or location. Cross-border care may be an option to provide access to services between locations that have different laws around family forming.

Logistical and legal complexities can arise in the pursuit of cross-border care, so arm yourself and your team with the resources you need to assist employees: a global benefits provider that covers all relevant regions and connections to experts on the ground, who can provide support with understanding rules and regulations, establishing parentage, and care navigation for each individual’s or couple’s needs.

3. Partner with a global solution

As you evaluate vendors for your workforce, it’s worthwhile to consider a global partner for your fertility benefits offering. Having one global solution for your workforce – rather than a handful of local providers covering select countries for your workforce – will offer greater consistency of service and support for all employees, the ability to provide a wider reach of benefits services, and less administrative challenges for your benefits team.

Throughout the process, though, it’s critical to understand how that global expertise provides the level of support your employees need from all possible environments.

Here are a few questions to ask:

  • What did the roll-out process look like to establish operations in your existing countries of operation? What does the roll-out process look like to launch in new countries? This will help you better assess how thoroughly a vendor will support your existing locations and new geographies as you continue to expand.
  • How do you comply with local rules and regulations? Use this question to dig in on how a vendor understands the various complexities of access to care around the world, ensuring that your employees can best access and navigate care.
  • How would you help an employee who is unable to access services domestically where they reside? Place the vendor in a situation that could easily occur to understand how they can support your employees with navigating cross-border care, if and where legally allowed.
  • How do you vet the eligible providers our employees will have access to? Standards of practice are different around the world, but having a partner that helps your employees access high in-region quality of care and services is important.

Ultimately, the realities of fertility and family-forming benefits management are complex and challenging but are a critical element of how we meet the needs of a global workforce and enticing talent on the move. If your company is working to hire and hold onto talent both in the U.S. and around the world, consider how you’ll create benefits parity across your geographies – and ensure you have the right framework and infrastructure in place to support all employees.

Supporting a diverse and inclusive workforce has never been more important to attracting and retaining talent, and offering a global fertility benefits program is an important step toward achieving that goal.

Mikayla Johnson  is vice president of global solutions at Carrot.

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