Creating a family friendly culture in the workplace

How important are family friendly policies and benefits in organisational culture?

Is there a correlation between a high performing organisation and a family friendly workplace?

It seems obvious that the answer is yes…and yet, there are many organisations who put family friendly policies and benefits at the bottom of the pile.  Family friendly policies and benefits are known to increase retention, recruitment, morale and productivity.  Arguably, these policies and benefits come at a cost to the organisation, so do the benefits outweigh the costs?  It can be difficult to put a figure on this type of benefit and return on investment.

There is also the unseen or lesser known part of family friendly policies and benefits that organisations can adopt; these are related to family building options such as infertility treatment insurance coverage, adoption grants, sick leave (for miscarriage or medical treatments), flexible working and egg freezing.

Simply having these policies and benefits will certainly contribute to a family friendly culture…but there is something deeper than these – a family friendly organizational culture that builds on the policies nd benefits.

You may have heard the saying – “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. This simply means that no matter how good the policies are they need to be supported by the organisation’s culture.

Going beyond the policies and benefits, leaders and staff need to develop the values and behaviours that make up the family-friendly culture:

Open Communication – on both work/life needs and institutional priorities.  Staff need to be able to freely communicate to their leaders and vice versa without incrimination or judgement. The ability to give 360 degree feedback freely about what works and what doesn’t contributes to this open communication environment.

Flexibility – at all levels of the organisation.  Creating an environment that makes it OK to ask for flexible working or time off by creating space to.  Believing that employees are less loyal or productive for asking for these creates will creates negative culture.

Commitment – recognition that a good work/life culture benefits everyone.

Fairness – fair doesn’t mean equal; leaders need to understand that one size doesn’t fit all, applying family friendly policies consistently is important.

These values can’t be written down in policy or given away as a benefit…they have to be enacted out by the people we work with every day and inspired by our leaders in our day to day lives.

What other values and behaviours do you think make up a family friendly culture that we can live by in our workplaces, including family building?

Do your leaders say they are family friendly but don’t live by the values they preach?

IVF Diary Vol II: 31 Jan – 1 Feb 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Progesterone in Oil 1ml Intra-muscular injection, vivelle dot estrogen patches 0.1mg x2.  I still have not mastered injecting this thing myself, but getting used to seeing the needle going in and injecting the oil myself.

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil

What are my symptoms?  I have had some aches and pains around my ovaries.  I am also quite tired, mostly because I have not been sleeping overly well since starting the progesterone.

How do I feel today? A little stressed with work situation at the moment.  At work as we were trying to sort some issues out amongst the team, and I was sat there consciously trying to remain calm, breathing through my nose and exhaling through my mouth slowly and consciously.  That worked for the morning, the afternoon I was just plain sad about work.  Someone who I barely know came to find me after a meeting and asked if I was OK, I seemed a bit sad and not my cheery self.

Any results?  At 5pm my phone rang with the clinic’s number, I couldn’t think why they were calling me.  The nurse answered the other line in a somber voice.  She had bad news.  Our 9 embies didn’t make it to cryopreservation.  So, no frosties this time around.  I tried hard not to cry on the phone, and burst into tears at my work desk as soon as I got off.  I cried in the car on the way home from work, trying not crash through the blubbering tears and snot.  We are gutted.  I am grateful we managed to transfer two at least.

What’s next? Beta HcG test will be 12 days from now :-s

Weight. NSTR.

Waist. NSTR.

Boobs. NSTR.

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF Diary Vol II: 15th Jan 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Gonal-F 300 iu & Menopur 150 iu.  Chris really is great at this injection thing.  I prepared the Gonal-F whilst Chris prepared the menopur.  We both read the instructions to remind us how to mix everything up, but like riding a bike, it was easy this time around.  Chris was a little bit nervous, but he needn’t have been, he did a great job.  I even looked down at the needle as he was injecting it – I am still not good at watching the needle break the skin though :-s.  The menopur did burn a bit as it went in, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remember it to be.

ivf2_day1Stims

Medical procedures undertaken. Nil.

What are my symptoms? Period started right on cue yesterday morning!  Hot flashes and a bit of dizziness a couple of hours after my 2 first injections of this cycle.

How do I feel today?  A little bit annoyed that my plans to have a more relaxing stim period and 2WW are falling to pieces. Some short turn around-high impact work may fall on my plate next week.  I would have to forgo some of my steadfast principles for quality work and accept that in this case a 40% solution can only be delivered in the time lines given.  I have stuck to my guns though to some extent – where I was going to be taking the whole week off work, I am now only taking Monday and Friday off.  Tuesday and Thursday I will be working from home, Wednesday I’ll be in the office.  As we talked about this potential work, I started to feel sick to my stomach.  I started thinking back to last time around when I was trying to get my project finished and how stressed I was feeling about balancing the IVF process and work.  I let down my quality levels then – no one noticed (of course I noticed), in fact I got lots of praise for that piece of work.  Last week when a senior boss praised this work in front of the whole division I sat there quietly proud, but felt a bit sad that I had accomplished that with little help during a shitty time of IVF, followed by the whole ectopic pregnancy thing and ultimately miscarriage.  My boss has been great by not dumping everything on me right now, he quite easily could have done, but he didn’t so I appreciate that, but I can’t quite help  thinking about how IVF is holding me back from doing my absolute best.  I don’t think my colleagues around me think like that (fortunately they are all smart, intelligent people who know me), it is just myself I am fighting with these thoughts.

All that being said, I’ll talk about something positive.  We decided to go out for dinner at our local restaurant to celebrate surviving and nailing those first two injections.  Chris deserved his beer!  As we were finishing our meal the power went out in some of the building.  There was a storm that evening so it must have knocked the power out.  I said don’t worry, we are on a different power grid to our neighbours over the road (the block our restaurant was on) and last time their power went out, ours stayed on.  As we walked back, we realised that our grid was out and our neighbours’ over the road was on! Typical.  Fortunately we are well prepared for such events (for hurricanes and other storms etc), and carried on with the power of candles 🙂  It was a little bit romantic…I snuggled up in bed preparing for the power to be out all night and the temperature to dip.

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Power outage = Candle lit bedroom!! Fortunately we have quite a few candelabras left over from our wedding table decorations still 😉

But then came the hot flashes!  I needn’t have worried about keeping warm, it seemed the drugs were doing a great job of that for me!!

Any results?  Estradiol <20 (as it should be, the same as IVF 1).  Progesterone <.2 (as it should be, the same as IVF 1). FSH 3.21 miU/ml (IVF 1 was 9.29, in 2014 it was 6.8) LH 0.771 miU/ml (IVF 1 was 3.48, in 2014 it was 4.9).  My LH level came up as red in my results…this means it was out of the ‘normal’ range, it is very low.  But not by much.  So I looked into it.  Although lower FSH is good, low LH is not good…apparently calculating the FSH-LH ratio and knowing the LH levels are good predictors of IVF outcome.  Let’s just say that I read several scientific reports, plugged in my numbers and the stats aren’t good.  But, the good news is that I don’t care! Why?  Because women with this kind of level and ratio still got pregnant.  And I am going to be one of those women in 4 weeks time 🙂 In your face science!!! **

What’s next? The same injections Sat, Sun, then monitoring appointment on Monday morning.

Weight. Work stress = nom nom nom bads.  But I did do the mixed martial arts P90x3 routine and pushed myself hard, so I don’t feel so bad.

Waist.  NSTR

Boobs. NSTR

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 Still NONE.  Let’s see if the sun comes out this weekend!

Fun Activity to keep Dani from going insane. IT’S FRIIIIIIIIDAYYYYYYY!!  I need say no more.  Surprise date night.

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

** Reserve right to have science egg in my face later

IVF Diary Vol II: 4 Jan – 14 Jan 16

Medication(s) administered and dosage(s). Ovulation Control Pill (OCP) Reclipsen 0.15MG-30MCG x 1 per day – Last pill taken Monday 11 Jan 16

Medical procedures undertaken. Baseline monitoring appointment was today – including blood work and vaginal ultrasound!!! As the nurse said to me – you know the drill!

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Baseline Monitoring Appointment DONE! We are go to start IVF 2.

What are my symptoms? I continually spotted whilst taking the birth control pill and as soon as I stopped taking it the spotting has stopped.  I was concerned this morning because my period had yet to start.  I recalled from last my IVF cycle that when I went in for my monitoring appointment I was bleeding, so I worried that everything would be cancelled!  But then I discovered that my monitoring appointment this time around is one day earlier than last time, so I was worrying over nothing!

How do I feel today?  Surprisingly chilled and relaxed.  Even dare I say, excited to be getting this cycle underway.  I went to my local Resolve support group monthly meeting last night and we talked about the new year and our goals…it got me inspired!!!  So I am feeling pretty good after that meeting.

I spent a lot of time at the clinic today waiting around and so I ended up being really late for work – I didn’t get in until 1230.  I told my boss I would be late in, but even I didn’t think it would be that late!  Oh well.  My best laid plans to work from home have been thwarted a little because of tech issues with email.  I am trying desperately hard to not get stressed from trying to fit everything in before the egg retrieval.  Work is closed on Monday next week because of Martin Luther King Day which just adds to shortening timescales to get things wrapped up!

Any results?  8 Follicles ~5mm in Left Ovary, and 9 Follicles ~5mm in Right Ovary.  That’s 11 more than last time!  My uterine lining is also good to go. Oh I have beautiful ovaries apparently, never turn down a compliment!  Blood test results come throughto my account a day later, but I have been given the go ahead to start stimulation injections tomorrow evening. So it’s GO GO GO IVF 2!

What’s next? Starting injections tomorrow evening and next monitoring appointment is on Monday.

Weight. I mentioned in last diary entry that I was 10lbs heavier than my last cycle…well with a bit of P90X3 in the mornings and cutting out the crappy food I have lost 4.5lbs over the last two weeks, which is quite incredible!

Waist.  NSTR

Boobs. NSTR

Hours of Sunshine 🙂 Ughhhh NONE.  Have to change this status over this coming weekend.

Fun Activity to keep Dani from going insane. This is going to be a new feature to my diary – basically I realise that I need to have little mini exciting goals, things to look forward to to keep me from going insane and letting IVF consume my head.  Thanks to everybody’s help with my previous post (you have no idea how much you helped), Chris is going to take me on ‘surprise’ date and I am going to relinquish all my desire to take control and plan things!  He doesn’t know it yet – but it will be a test to see if he fully reads my blog posts ;-p Haha just kidding. He does read them, and I love him so much for supporting my blogging.

*Notes.  I take First Response Reproductive Health multi vitamin gummies (pre-natal) and CoQ10 200mg gummies daily.  NSTR = Nothing Significant To Report.

IVF Vol 2 begins!

Yesterday my period arrived, just one day later than anticipated, but that’s all good.  I called my nurse and started with the Birth Control Pills (Reclipsen).

IVF2_BCPs

Birth Control Pills (BCPs) – YEY!!!!

I will be on Birth Control Pills for 14 days (1 day longer than last time), then 3 days later we go into the Clinic for my Cycle Day 3 baseline ultrasound and blood tests – this time we won’t need to have all the lessons on injections – but we will need to sign some paperwork and sort out the finances.  Then the next day I get my instructions for injections…and we are off on IVF/ICSI cycle 2!  Here is a calendar of our cycle…

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Planned Dates for IVF Cycle 2.

It is all happening a week later than I expected, which puts me in a conundrum about work travels.  This would mean travelling for work almost the day after I take my first beta blood test.  If it is positive, then I will be flying transatlantic to the UK just 4 weeks pregnant, and have to figure out how I’m going to do these progesterone injections.  Or if it is negative and I am not pregnant, then I will be away from Chris at a sad time. Either way, it kind of sucks.  If I don’t go on this work trip then I will be a real let down to my team.  I’m hoping Chris might be able to come with me on this trip, but it is really hard for him to get the time off work.

Anyway, I am genuinely excited to be starting this cycle, but I had a little cry yesterday.  I think it was all the period hormones running around.  I cried because of the whole situation of fitting everything in life around this IVF cycle.  I’m trying to make it easier for myself by taking some leave off work, but it is a busy month for my team, there is lots of work to be done, I have already had to pull out of one work event (in Switzerland :-|) and so I feel guilty.  Despite feeling like this….I still have hope for 2016 🙂

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2016 is the year I will be stronger, braver, kinder and unstoppable.  This year I will be fierce!!!

For those of you who are new to the whole IVF process or want a reminder of how IVF works you can find a summary on my “What does it all mean?” page here.  Currently I am in Step 1 of the process!

 

My new cubicle buddy is actually an IVF angel!

There are some benefits of telling your work colleagues that you are about to go through IVF.  My new cubicle buddy told me that she gave injections for her friend going through IVF – so she not only knows all about IVF, but also has the injectible skills! Haha! She kindly offered to give me any of my injections if I needed the assistance.  So if we have an emergency like the time Chris had to stab me in his work car park…my cubicle angel will be there for me 🙂  In fact, another friend at work has also offered her assistance too with the injections (she has never given one before, but isn’t squeamish about it like me!).  I am loving the love and feel very grateful to be surrounded by such lovely friends 🙂

love

Feeling the Love right now