Majority of workers won’t discuss fertility issues with their manager

Research finds 70% would be more likely to discuss issue if managers received training

Fertility issues such as IVF treatment is not widely discussed with managers, LinkedIn research has found. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Fertility issues such as IVF treatment is not widely discussed with managers, LinkedIn research has found. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

 

Fertility issues are still taboo in offices, research from LinkedIn has found, with nearly two-thirds of professionals in Ireland saying they would not discuss the topic with their manager.

This was despite evidence that workers would need extra support when going through the process.

While almost 60 per cent of Irish professionals said they wanted to keep their personal and professional lives separate, the main driver of this was due to a lack of training on handling sensitive issues such as miscarriage or IVF.

But 70 per cent said they would be more likely to discuss the issue at work if managers received training to help them navigate such issues.

The research surveyed 500 Irish professionals and 150 workers, with workers with fertility issues included in the study. It highlighted a lack of HR policies in workplaces to support people pursuing IVF or adoption, which could lead to resentment among the workforce.

Almost half of Irish women who suffered a miscarriage did not tell their employer, and 47 per cent of workers who had experienced fertility issues said it was too uncomfortable to discuss with their manager. Just over a fifth said this unwillingness to discuss issues was felt in particular if their manager was of the opposite sex, and 31 per cent said they did not want to have to tell colleagues if their attempts to conceive a baby were unsuccessful.

Some 22 per cent with fertility issues were worried that informing managers about their plans for a family would hinder their career.

Personal struggles

Workers facing fertility struggles also reported mental health issues, financial struggles and an impact on their work performance.

“It took my third miscarriage to push me to open up to a manager about what I was going through. Part of the reason why I’ve chosen to speak out about my journey on LinkedIn is that I believe our personal struggles don’t happen in isolation from our working lives. Following the positive response I received on my post, this has prompted many others to share their story on the platform,” said Lisa Finnegan, senior HR director at LinkedIn.

“We need to raise awareness of the diverse fertility journeys that people undergo so they feel comfortable starting the conversation at the beginning of that journey. This research shows that there are a multitude of ways to support employees struggling with fertility and I hope our findings will encourage more employers to begin their own discussions on the topic.”

Among the workplace policies that workers dealing with fertility issues said they would like to see introduced are flexible working options for those undergoing fertility treatment, parental leave during egg retrieval or insemination, paid time off and financial assistance for treatment and flexible working for those going through the adoption process.

The research also revealed ongoing issues around pregnancy and the workplace, with 73 per cent believing workers without children have more successful careers.