Supporting Fertility Patients: Wellbeing in the Workplace

by Tracey Sainsbury, Fertility Counsellor, Lister Fertility Clinic

Navigating the emotional and physical journey of fertility treatment is a significant challenge for individuals and couples alike. While this journey extends beyond the workplace, employers have a unique opportunity to create a supportive environment for their employees undergoing fertility treatments. By fostering a workplace culture that acknowledges and addresses the needs of fertility patients, employers can make a meaningful difference in the lives of their employees and contribute to their overall wellbeing.

Fertility in the workplace

The Lister Fertility Clinic works closely with the national patient charity Fertility Network UK. Their Fertility in the Workplace initiative shares there are more than 3.5million people in the UK experiencing fertility problems and many more seeking assisted conception in a same-sex relationship or as a single person, with the majority of people in employment as they undergo treatment. Sadly, many people fear how sharing news of a potential pregnancy may impact their career, increasing the chance of employees not talking about their situation and feeling isolated.

Workplaces that create a culture of compassion promote a supportive atmosphere where employees feel comfortable discussing their fertility journeys, which can help alleviate stress and foster a sense of belonging.

"I felt so much more at ease during our second cycle of treatment; I was in a different organisation where I felt they valued and respected me. I was happy to share my plans. I wanted to be a mum again, but also wanted the professional part of me to continue to grow too. I absolutely planned to return to work and was supported with my career development whilst trying to conceive and during my pregnancy. With my first pregnancy, I stayed with my employer for as long as I did just to qualify for maternity benefits and I felt relieved when I was able to move on," says Lisa, working mum to three children via IVF.

Workplace support

As a workplace, ensuring you have knowledge of how assisted conception works can be so helpful; fertility treatments often involve frequent medical appointments, medications, and procedures that can disrupt an employee's daily routine. Offering flexible working arrangements, such as remote work options or flexible hours, can greatly alleviate the burden on fertility patients. This flexibility allows individuals to attend appointments and manage the physical and emotional demands of their treatments while maintaining their productivity at work.

Respecting the privacy of fertility patients is paramount. Employers must ensure that employee medical information remains confidential and only accessible to relevant personnel. Clear guidelines should be established to protect sensitive information, providing reassurance to employees that their privacy is respected.

Implementing or expanding employee assistance programmes (EAPs) can be beneficial for fertility patients. EAPs can provide access to counselling services, mental health resources, and support networks that specifically cater to the unique challenges faced by individuals undergoing fertility treatments. Offering these resources demonstrates a commitment to employee wellbeing and creates a supportive network within the workplace. Including fertility coverage in an EAP can also be beneficial to the business, as any support offered to employees contributes to staff retention and higher staff morale.

Supporting fertility patients in the workplace

Caroline Spencer, Lead Counsellor at Lister Fertility Clinic, shared that her team often works with clients who are struggling with the practicalities of juggling work and treatment; clients can feel the lack of support impacts on their professional wellbeing and reduces their satisfaction and morale levels. Where there is a positive fertility policy in place within a caring, compassionate environment, people tend to cope better whatever the outcome of their treatment.

Supporting fertility patients in the workplace is not only a compassionate approach but also a sound business decision. By fostering a culture of compassion, implementing flexible work arrangements, ensuring confidentiality, and providing access to employee assistance programmes, employers can play a crucial role in alleviating the stress and challenges faced by fertility patients. Ultimately, a supportive workplace environment empowers employees to balance their fertility journey with their professional responsibilities, leading to happier, more engaged, and productive individuals.


More about our counselling services at Lister Fertility Clinic