From fertility to menopause – these are the times when your employees need your support

Experiencing fertility issues, becoming a parent, going through menopause. These are natural life events, but they pose significant challenges for your people. How can employers ensure they provide the support their employees need? 

Employers are recognising that they need to offer services to support their employees’ physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. The benefits to both parties are considerable, with recognisable improvements in everything from absenteeism to engagement.

The problem is there are certain life events that are under-served or neglected by traditional healthcare systems and private medical insurance. To achieve their cultural and commercial goals employers must turn to the right healthcare benefits to fill the gaps.

Menopause, fertility, and baby

When it comes to female and family health, these are moments that matter. Trying for a baby, early parenthood and the menopause will all have a significant impact on the lives of the vast majority of your colleagues, whether directly or indirectly. All too often they will struggle to find the answers to the questions they are facing.

Take the menopause: while it’s an inevitable transition for 100% of women (that’s over 50% of the population) it’s often shrouded in stigma, and a lack of understanding of the impact it can have, both at home and at work. Recent research by Vodafone suggests that 43% of women shy away from asking for help. In a 2019 research project by the CIPD, 75% of menopausal women felt that they couldn’t talk to their line manager about the real reasons for their absence from work, with one in three trying to hide the symptoms.

How can you provide wellbeing support for an issue which isn’t even discussed?

Equally, starting a family brings its own stresses. One in seven couples have difficulty conceiving, and 90% of individuals going through infertility report struggling with depression. A shocking 17% of women leave employment completely after five years of starting a family (compared with just 4% of men). Many more will return to work, but above all other factors, pregnancy and early parenthood play a fundamental role in widening the gender pay gap. 

These events are natural and not unexpected. Yet, in terms of workplace wellbeing, they are often ignored, despite their long and short term impacts on the individual’s personal and working life.

The impact on your business and your people

Many employees will struggle on alone, suffering physically, mentally or emotionally. Lack of sleep because of a new born is such a common symptom it’s almost a cliché. Similarly, from hot flushes to anxiety and insomnia, 63% of women going through the menopause said their symptoms negatively impacted on their work.

These issues do not just affect individuals, they also have a very real impact on your business, including employee performance, absenteeism, and on your ability to create, attract and retain a diverse, female- and family-friendly workplace.

Vodafone estimates that of its 100,000 employees globally, 15,000 are experiencing the menopause. If many are suffering in silence, you’re almost certainly just seeing the very tip of a potentially major problem, and almost certainly underestimating how serious these issues are for your business.

Accessible, trustworthy support

To really address the long-term impacts you need to listen and act. Collectively, we need to create an environment where symptoms are not concealed but talked about, and where access to help and support of the highest quality is easy and accessible for all.

Connecting people to dedicated, qualified healthcare practitioners provides a solution. Peppy is an employee benefit that does just this, supporting employees through fertility, pregnancy, early parenthood and menopause, via a secure app. The digital healthcare benefit is already offered to employees at Aviva, BNP Paribas, Santander and Wickes, to name a few.

Find out how Wickes supports its people through these key life transitions

With Peppy, employees and their partners can talk one-to-one with practitioners over chat or through virtual consultations, attend live events, access specialist mental wellbeing support, and even connect with other people going through the same life transitions via group chat.

This service is anonymous, trustworthy and accessible, available when it’s needed outside office hours, from 9am to 9pm. What’s more, because it’s an app there are no extra implementation costs and it’s so easy to use there is no need to add to the training budget.

The right benefits will not only improve employee wellbeing, they will also support your business. We’ve seen a  significant rise in mental wellbeing in our users. Among new and expectant mothers, there was a rise in a ‘normal’ mental wellbeing score from 32 to 60% And, four out of five Peppy users from one organisation reported feeling more committed to their employer as a result of having access to menopause support.

Actions speak louder than words

Improving gender equality and inclusivity are easy buzz words to band about. Proving them takes concrete actions, not words.

If creating a female- and family-friendly workplace matters to you, then providing the benefits which support and normalise fertility, pregnancy, early parenthood and menopause is essential. Bring these topics into the open, talk about them, and take practical steps to address them.

Wellbeing is now firmly on the workplace agenda. Now, it can help employees through life’s challenges and allow a business to ensure those same employees can come to work and perform to their best ability, safe in the knowledge that rather than simply talking  about wellbeing, their employers have invested in providing access to the support that makes that wellbeing a reality.     

Mridula Pore is CEO and co-Founder, Peppy