Employers may be able to boost employee engagement by addressing issues like abortion access, but they’ll have to do so in a clear and deliberate way, according to a recent report.
Employees responding to a recent survey were two times as likely to say their organization genuinely cares about their employees’ needs if their organization responded to Roe v. Wade’s overturning, compared to companies that did nothing, an Oct. 25 report from Catalyst revealed.
Those actions included making a statement, expanding or highlighting reproductive care benefits or encouraging workplace conversations about the issue — making clear that abortion access benefits could be a talent differentiator in the market.
But nearly half of employees surveyed (44%) said their organizations weren’t doing enough to ensure abortion access for employees, and 59% said they want more clarity around their employers’ policies.
“Organizational leaders can’t afford to ignore sensitive issues at work,” Catalyst said in announcing its findings. “Employees expect their organizations to take meaningful action in response to Roe v. Wade being overturned — and when they do, employees believe that their organization genuinely cares about addressing their needs.”
In the immediate wake of the Dobbs decision that ended Roe’s protections — a decision that leaked early — employers were split on what, if anything, to offer, according to a June survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. The most common reproductive benefits offered according to that survey included paid time off to access care as well as PTO to attend protests.
But many employers began offering abortion travel benefits — though how this looks can vary. Some offer a travel stipend to access care, which may be the most prevalent model among early adopters, while SHRM’s survey noted employees could use existing HSA to access funds for reproductive services (though most in that survey said they would not change their HSA contributions if they knew employees could use it for abortion-related travel).
Whatever an employer chooses to do — or not do — will be considered by employees as a statement, so employers need to move forward with intention, experts said during a Mercer webinar in July. Abortion access benefits may be increasingly part of the job search for some members of the workforce, too, Resume Builder data showed.