National Fertility Awareness Week starts on Monday 30 October 2023, with Friday 3 November focusing on fertility in the workplace.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles or posts you’ll see that fertility in the workplace is a topic that’s very close to me, both personally and professionally.
This year, I’m approaching the week from a slightly different angle. I’ve written and spoken about the things employers can do to make the fertility journey easier for their employees (remember, one in six people experience infertility in their lifetime, so this is a topic that has an impact on every organisation) – but rather than look at the institutional issues and things the ‘employer’ can do, I want to talk about what individual colleagues can do, in particular line managers, leaders, bosses – the people who oversee the people.
I was intrigued by a survey carried out by Fertility Matters at Work (they surveyed 150 employees who’d undergone fertility treatment); 70% said that their line manager had more of an impact on their mental health while they were going through fertility treatment than their doctor or their therapist and equal to that of their partner. Let that sink in for a moment … in a process where medicine is helping someone to create or grow their family, employees feel that their line manager affects their mental health more than their doctor.
It’s a tough gig being a line manager – alongside the day job, line managers are expected to provide pastoral care to their team members, for which they may have little or no training, be lacking in the skills, and/ or feel overwhelmed by it. That’s why I wanted to provide some tips, guidance and support for line managers as they have such an important part to play in how people feel about and in work when they are dealing with such a deeply personal and/ or challenging life event, such as, but not limited to, fertility treatment.
With that in mind, and aside from all the positive steps employers can take to support their employees and empower their line managers to have these conversations in the workplace, here are my suggestions for line managers – I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on these and any more you can think of:
The impact a line manager can have on an employees life, both positively and negatively, is huge – so the support offered to those going through fertility treatment can make a real difference.