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Property Casualty

Fertility – An Expanded Employee Benefit

Travis Dent
Travis Dent
Sr. Vice President, Employee Benefits

In the work we’re able to do with our employee benefit clients, we’re often asked, “what’s out there? What are you hearing, and what are others doing?”

While those are relatively simple questions at face value, they are at the core of a key opportunity we have to share information and move our clients and their employee benefit offerings forward.

A popular way to convey answers to the aforementioned questions is through benchmarking. While we often say, tongue-in-cheek, that benchmarking is not a strategy, it is an effective way to share what the industry is doing and how a particular company is comparing to various sets of their peers — whether it be based on size, industry, geography, etc.

Although a good source of information and a valid measuring stick in normal times, I think we all know, these are not normal times. There are plenty of benchmarks from 2020 and 2021 data that are becoming slowly available, but I’m not sure exactly how much weight to give these studies. Even though I’m certain they’re accurate and I’m not questioning the responses nor those who aggregate the information, my comment leans more to the timing.

In a labor market the likes of which the current generation has never experienced and in this stutter-step of virtual-to-physical work through the pandemic, it felt (and still feels) like many companies had more questions than answers. The world and many employers were crowdsourcing information ranging from recruitment and employee benefit offerings to return-to-work strategies. This rapid-fire exchange of ideas is still evolving, and while I’m certain they will be catalogued in future iterations of benchmarks, they seem far too fluid at the moment for rank and order.

Shifting from Benchmarking to Crowdsourcing Employee Benefits

So, I want to shift the focus for the time being away from benchmarking information and instead to a crowdsourced discussion and project we’ve currently been working on for a large client. This topic and particular benefit have been a part of their strategy for many years and is the kind of thing that can (and often) does appear as part of a benchmark study. It is an offering that checks many boxes — a robust benefit design, market differentiator, recruitment tool, employer of choice, and the list goes on.

While originally best-in-class, the need had evolved beyond the benefit and our focus shifted not on chasing the market through a benchmark, but understanding the deeper need and use of the people who the program was originally designed to support — the employees.

The particular benefit at the center of this discussion and project for our client surrounds infertility. As part of a smaller subset of employers even offering this benefit in the first place, it was first designed to help female employees who struggled with conception by assisting with both a resource and allocated dollar amount. Over time, it has evolved to include Rx treatment and Centers of Excellence to align employees with the best physicians available to help in their journey.

The Need to Evolve Fertility Benefits

In listening to employees and working to understand the needs of the modern workforce, something became very apparent — it was time to evolve. The need for this benefit had moved beyond infertility, and even the vernacular with which it was discussed needed a refresh.

In a time that is focused on the whole person and with a keen eye on inclusion, the talk and design of the program moved from an infertility benefit to fertility benefit. The dialogue and design are now focused on all employees, with inclusion efforts towards male fertility, same-sex couple fertility benefits for both partners, and progressive language removing the diagnosis of “infertility” and replacing it with inclusive resources for fertility.

Beyond just fertility, this particular client is now considering the creation of an entire family inclusive range of benefits including surrogacy, adoption, foster care, extended maternity and paternity leaves, and baby bonding time.

Our team has evaluated the plan cost impact (medical and Rx), along with leave timing to substantiate future budget projections. In addition, we’ve identified several top-tier fertility benefit providers to aid in the management and member engagement of this evolving benefit.  As final decisions are being made, our Communications team is now tinkering with draft language and promotion concepts.

This is an exciting project in an exciting time and is one example of “what we’re hearing” and “what’s out there.” This client allowed us to listen beyond the benchmark and see what employees both wanted and needed.

The modern workforce is continuing to evolve, and Holmes Murphy remains excited and ready to help benefits evolve along with the times. Let’s listen together and see what we can build next! Plus, if you have your own ideas, we’d love to hear them. Just reach out to us.

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