It can be a long and uncertain road for employees experiencing difficulties conceiving, trying to have or grow a family. It is often emotionally draining, socially challenging and financially tough. There can be significant impacts on someone’s mental and physical health. Managing these impacts alongside employment can be extremely difficult without an understanding manager. Supporting an employee who has experienced these difficulties requires compassion, flexibility and sensitivity. 

By ‘fertility challenges, investigations or treatment’ we mean any employee experiencing difficulties conceiving, or undergoing any investigations or type of treatment for fertility, or supporting a partner who is undergoing investigations or treatment. It’s not just women who may require support; fertility issues are just as likely to affect men. It’s also important to remember that the partner of someone experiencing fertility challenges is also likely to need support.

An employee is more likely to talk to you about their situation if you already have a good relationship with them and have built an environment that is open, respectful, kind, fair and consistent, in which people feel ‘psychologically safe’. Psychological safety is where people feel they can speak up and share concerns, questions or ideas freely without being criticised or made to feel ‘wrong’ for doing so. 

This guide provides advice on how to manage and support employees experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment. How you respond as a manager will make a big difference to how effectively your team member will be able to fulfil their role and how supported they feel. 

Why we need to support employees experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment

How to manage and support someone experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment

As a line manager, you have an important role in supporting the wellbeing and work needs of a team member experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment. This is because, as a manager, you are usually the employee’s first contact point, responsible for the day-to-day management of the employee and the tasks required of them, key to providing access to work adjustments such as a change in duties or a new flexible working arrangement, able to prevent additional stress, or anxiety, particularly in those who are feeling less confident in their abilities due to their experience. It’s important to bear the following in mind.

Guide for colleagues

Managers can share this downloadable guide with their team and colleagues to provide advice on supporting those who are experiencing fertility challenges, investigations or treatment.

More on this topic

Bitesize research
The dark side of performance-driven work climates

How do performance-driven organisations impact on employee wellbeing?

For Members
Case studies
Fertility challenges, investigations and treatment: Thales case study

Read about the approach Thales developed to support employees undergoing fertility treatment

Latest guides

Fertility challenges, investigations and treatment: Guide to offering workplace support

A guide for people professionals to provide effective support

Strategic workforce planning

Understand what strategic workforce planning is and how to do it

Evidence-based HR: Make better decisions and step up your influence

A step-by-step approach to using evidence-based practice in your decision-making

Staff fraud and dishonesty

Managing and mitigating the risks

All guides