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Promoting Employee Health and Work-Life Balance

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Balance is one of Abt’s core values—I can flex when I work, where I work, or how I work to meet both personal and professional commitments—and our policies and benefits are designed to support and reinforce this. We offer a robust set of benefits, including comprehensive health insurance, retirement plans, work-life balance programs, and career development, as well as wellness perks like in-office yoga, massages, ergonomic assessments, and gym amenities in our largest U.S. offices.

Recognizing Mental Health as a Priority

Abt is committed to employees’ health and wellness in all dimensions—physical, mental, and emotional. In addition to providing subsidized office perks in our largest U.S. offices, we ensure that health insurance benefits offered to our staff are responsive to their needs.

Before changing our healthcare network in 2020, we sought employee input and learned that support for mental health was a top priority. Base on that feedback, we chose a new network that offers plans with greater in-network mental and emotional health benefits, increasing the number of in-network mental health providers to cover 96.9 percent of employees, up from 79 percent under the previous plan.

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Readily available resources to build resilience contribute to wellness. Our Work/Life Assistance Plan conducts regular live and recorded seminars on concerns such as depression, relationships, self-care, and balancing family needs with work. Recognizing the potential for anxiety and stress around personal finances, we also provide on-site sessions and webinars on financial wellness.

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Ensuring Employee Wellness During COVID-19

The health, safety, and well-being of our staff is our highest priority. This is our guiding principle as we continually navigate the sudden and long-term issues raised by COVID-19. As we publish this report, COVID-19 largely defines both our daily operations and our work around the world.

Abt’s Preparedness Team has sought to quickly respond to staff needs and questions, from the immediate need to ensure that employees could successfully telework once offices were closed to providing ongoing support. The support includes flexible leave without pay, an employee leave donation bank, regular webinars on coping with emotional and financial stress, and biweekly CEO updates. We continue to monitor the situation daily, carry out our work, and look forward to safely reopening our offices under guidelines developed by the team. 

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Supporting Nursing Mothers in the Field

The Abt-led PMI VectorLink project has been in the forefront of championing gender equality and female empowerment through its malaria control operations. As we set out to improve women’s participation in various roles through our hiring process, we also changed the way we support our colleague Local Country Nationals (LCNs) who are new mothers returning to work. 

From July 2018 to March 2019, Abt led a pilot enabling LCN nursing mothers to bring their infants and nannies along for work trips that required an overnight stay. Previously, due to financial constraints and overnight feedings, most nursing mothers would have to leave their children at home and wean early, before the recommended six months. 

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By removing both the burden of early weaning and the separation of mother and child during this crucial bonding period, the pilot allowed new mothers to participate fully in their day-to-day project activities and achieve all their project goals while increasing retention and job satisfaction. In June 2019, Abt turned this pilot program into policy, enabling all LCN nursing mothers to take advantage of this support.  

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A New Peer Advocates Initiative

In January 2020, Abt launched a new initiative—the Peer Advocate Network. These field-based employees share an active commitment to preserving an inclusive environment free from harassment, exploitation, and abuse. Acting in a regional capacity, they offer guidance, remediation, and support to their colleagues, such as advising on how to report incidents, modelling workplace behaviors, and addressing mediation. We are currently piloting the Peer Advocate Network across eight countries—Bangladesh, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nepal, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda—and plan to expand the program.

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