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Inside AT&T’s Family Benefits Strategy

The exterior of an AT&T building

Over the past few years, AT&T has been on a mission to help employees with family planning and support.

The company has added fertility treatments, added subsidized child care, and rolled out postpartum and pregnancy/newborn support to all of its employees through virtual health care provider Maven Clinic. Now comes the telecommunications firm’s latest move: additional virtual fertility and family benefit support.

Through an expanded partnership with Maven Clinic—which began in January—all of AT&T’s 125,000 employees have unlimited 24/7 access to virtual guidance when considering reproductive services such as egg freezing, IVF, adoption, surrogacy and more. Through Maven, AT&T employees can meet with providers across more than 35 specialties and access a dedicated care advocate to help navigate their benefits and resources on and off Maven, including referrals to high-quality clinics or agencies.

The new benefit builds on a partnership AT&T has had with Maven since 2021.

“We really wanted to add that as an additional touchpoint to help employees navigate their benefits and family-planning journey,” explained Matt Phillips, assistant vice president of benefits at AT&T.

More employees are calling on fertility support from employers, added Kate Ryder, founder and CEO of Maven Clinic. “In today’s ever-changing landscape of HR demands, family benefits are a north star for wise employers seeking return on investment (ROI),” she said.

SHRM Online spoke to Phillips for more insights about AT&T’s benefits strategy and why it has revamped support for employees in their family-planning journeys.

SHRM Online: Walk me through your benefits strategy in the past few years—what have you been trying to accomplish?

Phillips: Right before COVID—in 2018-2019—we refreshed our strategy around employee well-being. At the time, we had these programs, and it was [a sentiment] of “Your health matters, and your money matters, and your team matters, your career matters”—that sort of thing. These all had great benefits, but all of the programs and the focus on them were very siloed. We wanted to shift the focus so instead of it being on those benefits, in those different spaces, it would be on the employee.

Now, we really are putting the employee at the center of everything and building programs around the employee. We also wanted to better our employee experience and also expand family benefits, and that’s where things like Maven helps walk employees through constant support.

SHRM Online: In addition to the Maven benefits, tell me a little about other family benefits AT&T provides.

Phillips: In addition to disability for the birth mother, we provide up to 12 weeks of paid parental leave [for both parents] \ and that’s for a birth as well as an adoption.

We offer up to 15 days of caregiving paid leave so employees can provide care for a family member, whether it’s a child or an adult dependent. We provide doula coverage and virtual doula support in the family-building space. We also offer subsidized backup care.

So, if [employees] need to work, but [their] kid is sick, they can either take time off and they have their caregiver leave, or they can have someone come into their home, or they could drop them off in a center, and the company subsidizes that, as well. So, we have quite a few different benefits to help our employees build their families, but then also care for them.

SHRM Online: How do you feel like that kind of wellness and benefits support helps as far as AT&T wanting to be a great place to work? What’s the ROI that you get on providing those offerings?

Phillips: We talk a lot about ROI, we talk a lot about VOI [value on investment], and we’re very big at AT&T on data and “What can we see from a return perspective?” So, some of these benefits, like Maven’s offerings, have a good return from a financial ROI. We know that not only is it a poor experience to have complications during pregnancy or childbirth—if they have to go to the hospital or someone has an unwanted C-section, for instance—but it also costs our plan money. From a pure ROI perspective, maternity assistance is a good investment. But then what we really have seen in the feedback, what we’ve heard from employees, is the value of those investments. We hear from employees who say they feel supported by a benefit like ones that help walk them through stages of parenthood.

I think it’s very possible that had employees not had the support they have during the maternity stage—and after having a child—they might not return to work.

SHRM Online: What influences your benefits strategy at AT&T? What guides what you’re trying to accomplish?

Phillips: The biggest thing we look at is: Where can we meet the needs of our employee? And where can we more efficiently deliver the benefits that we have? There’s definitely a financial piece of that; AT&T invests a lot of money in our employees. We’re trying to make that go as far as we possibly can and eke out the most benefit that we can from that.

We definitely spend a lot of time on efficiently delivering our benefits, but then also: What are those employee needs? What are those pain points? We definitely like to hear feedback from our employees.

The other thing is, we spend a lot of time on data. We have a data warehouse, where we glean all of our data on an anonymized basis, where we can dig in and see what sorts of return is there for various programs. We can see if employees are using it, look for inefficient places in our programs and just really dig into things.

SHRM Online: Any words of wisdom for other HR and benefits leaders when they’re thinking about expanding family support and benefits?

Phillips: It’s valuable in that it’s vital to reach into employees’ lives and help them in their times of need. There’s a lot of joy that comes with building your family and bringing your baby home, however that occurs, but it can be very stressful. I think it really means something to employees when you can help them through that with benefits and support.


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