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Fostering Employee Wellness and Profitability: Supporting People on the Infertility Journey

by Louise Siwicki


Infertility can have a profound impact on a person's career, and it is essential for leaders and HR managers to understand and address this issue. This article aims to shed light on the challenges faced by people undergoing fertility treatments and emphasize the need for inclusive workplace practices. By recognizing and supporting the emotional, physical, and financial aspects of infertility, organizations can create environments that attract and retain talented employees while promoting employee well-being.

The infertility journey is often a silent struggle, and women may face significant hurdles in their personal and professional lives. Delayed parenthood, for instance, can contribute to fertility issues and impact career progression. It is crucial for organizations to acknowledge and accommodate the unique needs of employees on the infertility journey.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the infertility journey, explore the impact of delayed parenthood, discuss the silent struggles faced by women in the workplace, and present strategies for infertility-informed leadership. By addressing these topics, organizations can foster employee wellness and profitability while supporting individuals on their infertility journey.


The Infertility Journey

Infertility is recognized as a disease by the World Health Organization, and it affects a significant percentage of couples. The journey towards fertility often involves a series of lengthy and unpredictable procedures, such as hormonal therapies, injections, and surgeries. While some couples may achieve success quickly, for many others, the path to parenthood can span several years filled with ups and downs.

It is crucial to acknowledge and focus on the experience of women navigating the infertility journey. They bear the physical and emotional burdens of fertility treatments, often enduring invasive procedures and unforeseen side effects. However, it is also important to recognize that men may face similar challenges, even though they might not openly express their struggles in the same way.

Couples going through infertility are often confronted with a rollercoaster of emotions, ranging from hope and excitement to frustration and despair. The impact and toll of this journey go beyond the medical aspect, affecting every aspect of their lives, including relationships, career, and overall well-being.

In the next sections, we will explore the impact of delayed parenthood, the silent struggles in the workplace faced by individuals on the infertility journey, and how fostering infertility-informed leadership can support employees and, ultimately, enhance both their well-being and the profitability of organizations they work for.

The Impact of Delayed parenthood

With career-building often overlapping with prime years of childbearing, many women face the difficult decision of choosing between a successful career and starting a family. It's no secret that people today are pursuing higher education, establishing themselves in their professions, and striving for financial stability before considering motherhood. However, delaying parenthood until later years increases the likelihood of needing fertility treatments, which become less effective with age.

The physical and emotional toll of unsuccessful treatments can be detrimental to a woman's well-being and her relationship with her partner. The rollercoaster of hope and disappointment, coupled with the financial strain of fertility treatments, can take a significant toll on a woman's mental health. Moreover, the pressure to conceive can create stress and strain in relationships, leading to feelings of isolation and frustration.

For women in their late thirties and early forties, the reality of declining fertility can be a harsh wake-up call. The biological clock ticks louder, and the chances of conceiving naturally diminish. This reality underscores the importance of supporting women on the infertility journey, providing resources, and fostering a workplace culture that acknowledges the challenges of delayed motherhood.

Silent Struggles in the Workplace

Infertility is often a silent and invisible experience in the workplace. Many people hesitate to disclose their fertility treatments due to concerns about its impact on their careers. The fear of being judged or stigmatized can lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness. 

Managing work alongside frequent and unpredictable clinic visits can be a significant challenge. People may struggle to find the time and energy to balance their professional responsibilities with the demands of fertility treatments. This can result in burnout and reduced performance, affecting both their well-being and productivity.

Unfortunately, the lack of support and understanding from employers only exacerbates these challenges. Without proper accommodations or flexibility, women may face difficulties in attending appointments or taking time off for necessary procedures. This can lead to missed opportunities for career growth and advancement.

It is crucial for employers to recognize and address these silent struggles. By fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace culture, employers can create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their fertility journeys. Providing flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or adjusted schedules, can help alleviate the stress and burden associated with fertility treatments.

In the next section, we will explore the importance of infertility-informed leadership and how it can positively impact both employees and the overall success of the organization.

Infertility-Informed Leadership

To support employees experiencing infertility, leaders and HR managers need to be aware of the challenges and create inclusive policies and environments. By taking the following actions, organizations can help employees navigate the infertility journey while maintaining their career ambitions.

Firstly, it is crucial to give voice to the silence surrounding infertility. Normalizing the conversation around this topic creates an environment where women feel comfortable sharing their treatment and career plans. This open dialogue fosters support and understanding among colleagues.

Secondly, organizations should design infertility-informed policies. This includes benefit plans that cover fertility treatment costs, offering time off pre-conception, reduced hours and duties, counseling, and financial support. By implementing these policies, organizations send a clear signal that they are family-friendly and supportive.

Thirdly, providing guidance to managers is essential. Educating managers about the impact of fertility treatments on work and encouraging flexibility in managing treatment appointments can alleviate stress for employees. Additionally, offering sick leave options for necessary recovery time is crucial.

Lastly, organizations should offer flexibility in career planning. Recognizing that each woman's experience with infertility is unique, support should be provided for those who choose less-stressful positions during treatment. Programs should also be in place to help them get back on track when they are ready. Similarly, ambitious women who want to pursue challenging opportunities despite their unpredictable life circumstances should be supported.

By implementing these infertility-informed leadership practices, organizations can create a supportive and inclusive environment for employees on the infertility journey.


Infertility is a significant challenge that impacts the lives and careers of many people. It is a journey filled with emotional and physical ups and downs, and it requires understanding and support from employers. By recognizing the needs of employees going through fertility treatments, organizations can foster employee wellness, attract and retain top talent, and promote inclusion.

Creating a supportive environment for employees on the infertility journey is not only the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. When employees feel supported and understood, they are more likely to be engaged and productive. Moreover, organizations that prioritize employee well-being and inclusivity are more likely to attract and retain top talent.

It is time for business leaders to step up and create workplaces that allow all employees to thrive, regardless of their personal journeys. By embracing infertility-informed leadership and implementing policies and practices that support employees on the infertility journey, organizations can create a culture of compassion and understanding. Together, we can foster employee wellness and profitability, ensuring that no one feels alone on their path to parenthood.


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