The perks available to Silicon Valley staff are already known to be what every employee dreams of. Now, Facebook and Apple are offering female employees something a little different; the chance to delay motherhood by freezing their eggs.
Facebook recently began paying the cost of egg freezing, which allows women to postpone trying for a child. Apple are said to start payments in January. The companies are believed to be the first to pay for egg freezing motivated by career rather than medical reasons. The process is expensive and tricky. Each round of harvesting retrieves between 5 and 15 eggs and costs a minimum of $10,000 (£6,300). Doctors recommend at least two rounds to maximise the chances of success. Apple and Facebook have said that they will cover costs of up to $20,000 (£12,600).
The technique was developed in the 1980s to safeguard the fertility of women with cancer who were going through chemotherapy. More recently, it has been viewed as an insurance policy for women who fear that motherhood will slow their careers. The technique is far from perfect. Last year a study in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that the probability of giving birth after freezing eggs was about 26 per cent if the eggs were harvested when the woman was 30, and only 15 per cent at the age of 40.
Egg freezing is the latest addition in Silicon Valley’s “perks arms race”. Tech companies compete to recruit from a small pool of skilled technology staff and are finding it particularly difficult to attract women. Apple has admitted that only 20 per cent of its engineers are female, and women leave tech companies at twice the rate of men. An Apple spokesman said of its new cryopreservation and egg storage programme “We want to empower women to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones.”
There are many ways to attract and retain staff, and offering to freeze employee’s eggs is somewhat eggcessive! Babies are not commonly part of a remuneration package, and it may be cheaper to consider offering less eggstravagant benefits such as private healthcare or a company car, or incetivising women to return to work after maternity leave, before offering women the chance to delay motherhood. As well as offering perks to the job, it is important to manage job satisfaction to ensure you are creating a happy working environment. Although pay is thought to be one of the top working incentives, it’s not the only one and it takes a lot more to get the most out of your employees. British workers are less loyal to their employer than anywhere else in the world, according to the one survey. It was said that the main motivator for UK employees to move jobs is work/life balance, followed by location, stability and respect, with pay coming 5th on the priority list. What does your business do to manage work/life balance?
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