Families come in all shapes and sizes. That makes inclusive family-building coverage a critical element of an employer’s comprehensive benefits plan – especially since employees are starting to expect it.

“Everyone’s entitled to have a family if they want to,” says Neda Nasseri, product director at Desjardins Insurance, “and the expectation that employees now have is to get some kind of financial help from their employer.”

How important are family-building benefits to employees? In Carrot’s Global Fertility at Work survey (2023), 75% of respondents said they see fertility benefits, in particular, as an important part of an inclusive company culture, while 65% would change jobs to get those benefits. Meanwhile, more than half (55%) said fertility challenges have affected their work performance, hinting at the cost to organizations that don’t offer support in this area.

The key for employers, says Nasseri, is to ensure family-building benefits are truly inclusive – going beyond traditional coverage of fertility drugs and treatments to also cover costs associated with surrogacy and adoption – because all forms of family-building assistance can be expensive.

“We all have diversity, equity and inclusion in our targets,” she points out. “With comprehensive family-building benefits, employers have an opportunity to promote a culture of openness and understanding that caters to different realities.”

Additional benefits that go beyond providing direct financial support for family-building interventions can be helpful as well. For example, Nasseri suggests that a dietician or kinesiologist can be of great help for women living with obesity who are struggling to conceive. Both can assist with lowering body mass index – something that may be necessary to be eligible for fertility treatments. These same professionals can also assist men, whose sperm quality can be affected by obesity. An acupuncturist can help move a baby into the right position before delivery, and a psychologist can help couples deal with the mental health challenges associated with difficult pregnancies and perinatal bereavement.

“Many family-building issues [beyond medical interventions] need to be addressed with a variety of health care professionals. Covering these different types of specialists is definitely relevant,” says Nasseri. “Broader benefits have the extra advantage of helping all parents-to-be, whether they’re physically carrying the baby or not.”

Access to a specialist that offers guidance from preconception through to the fourth trimester can be valuable as well. Desjardins Insurance has established a partnership with Prenato to provide this type of support and round out its family-building benefits.

“Providing resources for employees who are starting or expanding their families – that’s the basis for alleviating the emotional burden and the financial burden. It can contribute to reducing stress and improving overall wellbeing,” says Nasseri.

“It can help attract or retain top talent, increase morale, favour engagement and boost loyalty to an employer,” she adds. “Just imagine saying, ‘Thanks to my employer, I was able to become a parent.’ It’s going to do wonders for an employer’s reputation, and [employees] don’t want to leave such a supportive place.”

To learn more about Desjardins Insurance’s group and business insurance solutions and how they can help support a healthy workforce, visit desjardinslifeinsurance.com/group-insurance.

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