Benefit packages: how far is too far?

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Apple and Facebook are companies that promote using provocation. Most of this provocation surrounds the latest gadget or phone, yet last month these two companies created a shock with the news that they were offering to freeze eggs for female employees in an effort to attract more women into their workforce.

Flexible time, extended maternity leave, bonuses: these are perks that are commonly used by firms to attract staff. Yet in offering cryopreservation and egg storage, it seems that Apple and Facebook have raised the bar beyond the threshold of expectancy.

Silicon Valley suffers from a dearth of senior women in the workplace, with 70% of all employees as make. As such, from a strategic perspective, offering this perk may help these companies increase the diversity of their workforce. Yet critics will point out that egg preservation is an invasive and risky medical procedure that should not be considered a perk. In offering such a procedure these companies are trespassing on the private lives of their employees – where they have no place to be in the first place. Critics have also argued that offering egg preservation to a young worker is actually entrapment rather than a perk. Not only does it seek to encourage the female worker to postpone any hopes of carrying children (knowing they have the insurance of the frozen eggs) but it retains them as an employee. It is very doubtful that these companies could ever claim ownership of the eggs, yet how many would quit after taking on this perk if they risked losing the funds to finance the treatment?

Also published in the same week was a report claiming that 72% of female workers experiencing menopause related symptoms say they feel unsupported in the workplace, with 10% having considered leaving their job as a result.

The report, published by Nuffield Health, explains how the changes to female hormones during the menopause can cause suffers to behave differently, affect their concentration levels, make multi-tasking difficult and stress unbearable. As a result, many women experiencing the menopause feel forced to take sick leave to hide the changes and their difficulty in the workplace.

The report calls for companies to show more openness and knowledge about menopause in the workplace in order to help those experiencing its symptoms. As it stands now, menopause remains a taboo subject, with 55% of women saying they felt uncomfortable discussing the issue with their manager for fear of being ridiculed.

It is understandable why companies offer perks to attract the best talent – although these perks are questionable. However rather than simply focus on getting younger workers through the door, the research published this week suggests that companies also need to consider more mature workers and their needs – both biological and aspirational.

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