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Fostering Fertility in the Workplace: Why does it matter?

Louise Siwicki
Fertility Coach & Certified NLP Coach , Louise Siwicki Coaching

Category:
Emotions and Support

FOSTERING FERTILITY IN THE WORKPLACE. WHY DOES IT MATTER? -Louise-Siwicki
From this video you will find out:
  • How to balance reproductive work with paid work?
  • Why fertility is not just a global health issue but also a workplace issue?
  • What are the different levels of impact associated with fertility – mental, physical and emotional?
  • How to manage real-life discussions?
  • How to be a supportive employer?

Fostering Fertility in the Workplace: Why does it matter?

During this event, Louise Siwicki, a global award-winning Fertility Empowerment Coach & Fertility Workplace Advocate discussed fertility in the workplace through the lens of mental and emotional well-being, and why this conversation is now more important than ever to have.

Louise started her talk by sharing her own personal story as she gave birth to 3 kids in 3 years. What makes this remarkable is the fact that she battled infertility for 6 years before becoming a mother. Through this transformative journey, she found her true passion and purpose. Now, she supports people in the workplace who are struggling to realize their dreams of parenthood.

The emotional toll of infertility

According to the World Health Organization, infertility is a disease of the male or female reproductive system, defined by a failure to achieve pregnancy after 12 months. It’s crucial to recognize that infertility affects both genders. In 2019, 88,929 IVF cycles were started, resulting in just over 18,000 babies, and this number has continued to rise. Many more individuals face infertility without seeking medical treatment.

Studies by The American National Library of Medicine reveal that 25 to 60% of people with infertility report psychiatric symptoms, with anxiety and depression being significantly higher than in those not facing fertility issues. Unfortunately, the emotional aspect of infertility is often overlooked. Many patients enter treatment unprepared and unsupported, leading to isolation, confusion, and despair. The psychological impact is undeniable, with 9.4% of infertility patients reporting suicidal thoughts or attempts.

With infertility on the rise, it’s essential to recognize that it’s not only a personal challenge but also an organizational concern. Employees struggling with fertility issues may hesitate to discuss them with employers due to fears of career repercussions. This fear can lead to absenteeism, sick leave for fertility appointments, and even considering leaving their jobs. These challenges can be costly and disruptive for employers.

Fertility in the workplace

Ten years ago, as a national business development manager, fertility in the workplace was not discussed. I feared discussing my fertility issues with my employer, which affected my mental well-being, confidence, and performance.

Louise’s struggle with infertility took a toll on her mental health during those years. She was too afraid to discuss it with her employer, fearing it would harm her career. This silence led to stress, anxiety, and a loss of confidence that extended into all facets of her life.

One day, I couldn’t bear the trauma anymore. I decided to confide in my workplace, and while they were empathetic, they lacked policies, procedures, and understanding. This motivated me to address fertility in the workplace.

Employees are now seeking fertility benefits from their employers, and many consider these benefits crucial when choosing a job. Providing leave for fertility treatments is a step in the right direction, but it’s equally important to focus on employees’ mental health. Infertility takes a significant toll on emotional well-being, which directly impacts productivity and performance. Prioritizing emotional support contributes to a happier, more productive workforce.

Creating a fertility-friendly workplace

To become a supportive employer, there are 3 key elements:

  • education and training – managers and employees need training to understand the complexities of fertility, its physical and emotional impacts, and how to have sensitive conversations.
  • emotional support – providing access to specialized fertility coaching and support is essential. Fertility challenges require a unique kind of support.
  • internal network – designating a fertility advocate within the organization helps create a safe and supported working environment. This person can provide guidance and support to managers and employees.

Conclusions

In conclusion, fertility is a vital topic in the workplace, and creating a supportive environment is achievable through education, emotional support, and internal advocacy. By addressing fertility challenges openly and empathetically, organizations can enhance employee wellness and become employers of choice.

- Questions and Answers

What are the most difficult challenges of balancing fertility treatments, doctor’s appointments, work responsibilities from your own perspective?

From my perspective, personally and also with my clients, it is not the psychological side of things. It is if you don’t have the right tools, the right strategies, and the right support, then the whole process becomes very overwhelming. Once it becomes overwhelming in your mind, it becomes very difficult to balance everything. The whole journey becomes consuming, and emotionally, you can’t see beyond it. You can’t rationalize, and you’re unable to really juggle life because of all this mental clutter. So, number one, it’s about really stripping back. If you are struggling to balance life and navigate your fertility journey, it’s about understanding the different brain tools that can help you calm your nervous system, take you out of the stress response mode, and put you in rest and reset. Once you gain control over your mind and mindset, you can start to implement a plan and make things seem less difficult, step by step.

Do you know any stories or best practices from companies that have implemented supportive fertility policies or programs?

Some of the best feedback I’ve had from my work has been around productivity and employee wellness increase. I worked with a company a couple of months ago, and 2 of their employees had been among their best employees but had lost confidence in their ability to perform due to their fertility journey. Communication had deteriorated, and their careers were affected. After working with them for 6 weeks and implementing essential mind tools and strategies to reduce mental clutter and overwhelm, they regained control and became more productive. The transformation was incredible. Companies can recreate a supportive environment with simple steps like holding webinars to discuss fertility in the workplace and creating a safe space for employees to come forward with their struggles. It can be that simple.

What would you say to a workplace that is male-dominated and thinks it’s okay to move a woman undergoing fertility treatment to any male manager, saying they don’t need to know her situation to support her?

I agree wholeheartedly. Unfortunately, many companies still consider fertility primarily a women’s health issue, and there’s a significant taboo around the subject. This backward thinking needs to change. By opening discussions, sharing stories, and encouraging both women and men to talk about their fertility struggles, we can normalize the topic. It’s crucial to educate organizations and advocate for supportive policies. If possible, find someone within or outside the organization who can support you in discussions with managers. The more we talk about it, the more we can create a movement and change attitudes towards fertility issues in the workplace.
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Authors
Louise Siwicki

Louise Siwicki

Louise Siwicki is a global award winning fertility hypnosis and coaching Expert. A specialist in the fields of Neuro Linguistic Programming, Time Line Therapy®, Hypnotherapy. She is the Founder of "Louise Siwicki Coaching," a Public Speaker, Author and a Senior Executive Contributor for Brainz Magazine. Although her reach is now global, she is the Head of Development Australia for the European Fertility Society her passion and purpose remain very personal. Through her own personal 6 year battle with infertility she reaslied the importance of the mind, body connection and turned her grief into empowerment and a career that supports couples who are now walking the path she once did. As well as private clients, in 2023 via group programs, workshops and consulting Louise is partnering with workplaces around fertility in the workplace, how it affects productivity and the importance of organisations supporting couples on the journey. One in six couples globally struggle to conceive. Her mission is to make a positive impact on those rates and help couples really take control of their fertility journey through the lense of their mental and emotional wellbeing.
Event Moderator
Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka

Caroline Kulczycka is managing MyIVFAnswers.com and has been hosting IVFWEBINARS dedicated to patients struggling with infertility since 2020. She's highly motivated and believes that educating patients so that they can make informed decisions is essential in their IVF journey. In the past, she has been working as an International Patient Coordinator, where she was helping and directing patients on their right path. She also worked in the tourism industry, and dealt with international customers on a daily basis, including working abroad. In her free time, you’ll find her travelling, biking, learning new things, or spending time outdoors.