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Family Planning & Fertility – Value Add or Table Stakes? | California Benefits Agents

The Global Pandemic plus the The Great Resignation have blown employee benefits wide open, leaving employers and benefit advisors to pick up the pieces.

In a recent Mineral benchmarking report published in May of 2022, the focus of employers towards recruitment & retention grew significantly from 24% in 2020 to 64% in 2021.  Another pivotal area that followed suit were employee retention doubling from 20% to 40%. What we can learn from this is while 2020 was a year of survival, 2021 and beyond is about people.

It is not stranger to us attracting quality talent has become significantly more difficult recently. Too many open positions and not enough qualified candidates to fill. This has caused employers to feel the need to compete more and more by enhancing their comprehensive benefit packages and focusing on non-insurance-based items or as we refer to it as lifestyle benefits.  essentially, employers are now focusing more on employee benefit items hyper focused on each individual’s need outside of work and their personal/family lives rather than insurance-based benefits.

An emerging benefit trend is surrounding family planning & fertility.  The two terms have been used interchangeably as of late however both are just as important when considering whether to include some components as part of a benefit plan.

Items such as;

  • In-Vitro Fertilization
  • Embryo Storage
  • Egg Freezing & Storage
  • Genetic Testing
  • Surrogacy

When you couple the imbalance of the difficulty of filling open positions causing employer competition with the fact employees are keener to seek employment from an employer who provides more lifestyle benefits, benefits that were cutting edge or industry leading are now becoming more of an expectation.

So, we get it.  We need to offer family planning and fertility benefits.  So how do we go about doing this?  There are several things to consider, but the good news is, there is no one size fits all solution and there are a plethora of solution providers and ideas to implement based on budget and capabilities.

Here are some things to consider!

What to Cover? What to Offer?

Firstly, employers should consider which type of benefits to offer, if not all.  The leading aspects of fertility benefits have been egg freezing and IVF.  This allows individuals and couples to preserve their eggs when they are potentially healthier and also more efficiently start a family more successfully.  This benefit has proven to be attractive to those in both the millennial and Gen Z generations as well as women who value their careers and plan to return to work.

There is also surrogacy to consider.  While costly, there are ways and solution providers to bring this benefit in place especially for those who either cannot conceive or perhaps a same sex couple.

Additionally, this has caused a significant boom in the fertility world.  There are now many providers offering vast solutions, but they take it a step further than just being a financial conduit.

Most employers offer an EAP, however when it comes to family planning and fertility, many individuals and couples have no idea where to start.  Thus, this is an area of focus for various family planning vendors as they wrap their entire solution with a holistic and comprehensive coach or advocate.  Imagine having a single point of contact for your entire family planning journey.

What about my budget?

The best part about this is the fact employers can set their own budget.  Start small and based on utilization, you can gradually increase.  Employers can set their cap.  While the costs of various aspects of family planning can be cost prohibitive for employees and their pocketbooks, employers are considering a lifetime benefit limit up to $25,000 ranging in various coverage items.

Moreover, selecting the right family planning & fertility provider can directly affect not only the employer budget but also the employee.  Having a safe pregnancy with minimal complications is proven to be a difficult ask.

But how do we find these specialists and providers?  By partnering and leveraging these solution providers who make it their organizational mission to work with only highly qualified and successful outcome-based facilities and specialists.

The key is, not every employee will utilize the benefit every year so while it may seem like an expensive benefit to budget for, this has not contributed to a significant increase in healthcare costs.

So back to the main question, are family planning and fertility benefits a value add or table stakes?

Well, it’s both.  It just depends on your industry and who it is you’re trying to attract from a candidate and personnel perspective.  While the number of organizations nationwide offering family planning benefits are increasing, it is more often offered by employers over 500 employees.  It may be of no surprise the technology industry were the leaders in offering these comprehensive lifestyle benefits.  Greatly, we’ve seen this grow to retail, healthcare, manufacturing, consulting and financial based organizations.

While employers are putting their best foot forward to attract and retain top talent, it’s important to consider the other side of the table.  More and more individuals are asking about these sorts of benefits as part of their overall total compensation strategy.  While it may not be a deal breaker, it weighs heavy enough with current generations to affect whether or not a candidate accepts an offer or not.  It’s certainly a ‘pro’ when candidates start etching out their pros and cons list of employment opportunities.  Or, better yet whether or not an existing employee is retained.

All in all, if we’re not already there, we’re very close to considering fertility benefits and family planning solutions to be table stakes.  With more employees requesting, more employers adding and more solution providers existing, this is an area that will continue to grow and become more relevant.

By Ed Ligonde, Nielsen Benefits Group