Atrium Health Is Evolving Its Benefits Alongside the Changing Nature of the Family


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The nature of the American family is changing. Gone is the 50s ideal of the nuclear family with a married husband and wife and two rosy-cheeked children. That image has now been replaced by a far more diverse variety in family makeup.

Of the 74 million children under the age of 18 living in America today, 69% live with two parents, and 23% live with just their mother. Roughly 135,000 children are adopted every year in the US and 428,000 are fostered. In total there are 1.5 million adopted children in the country. There are 543,000 same-sex married couple households and 469,000 households with same-sex unmarried partners living together. Meanwhile, 191,000 children live with same-sex parents.

"The CPS recently made improvements in survey measures and processing to better gauge the makeup of U.S. households," reports the US Census Bureau. "Among the updates: changing the relationship to householder question to include opposite-sex/same-sex options and adding gender-neutral parent identification questions that allow respondents to identify as having two mothers or two fathers present in the household. The focus on same-sex couples reflects growing family diversity in the United States, which also includes unmarried partners living together."

These rapidly evolving demographics mean that companies need to take the modern nature of the American family into account when constructing their benefits packages. Something which Atrium Health is ahead of the curve on.

Atrium Health

To help support this new generation of families, Atrium Health is significantly expanding its parental benefits. Whereas previous benefits would have simply included time off for mothers who had recently given birth — and possibly a week or two for new fathers — it is now understood that a more comprehensive benefit is required.



As one of Charlotte's biggest employers, Atrium Health is now updating its parental benefits package to include time off for non-birth parents, which will cover same-sex couples — particularly men — who have recently had a child, either through adoption or surrogacy. Additionally, Atrium Health is offering up to $3,500 in financial assistance to help its employees who want to adopt children.

These benefits will assist those members of society who are statistically more likely to want to adopt children such as young people (18-44), non-white ethnic groups, single individuals living alone or unmarried couples living together, and same-sex couples. Research has demonstrated that same-sex couples are more than four to six times more likely to adopt or foster than heterosexual couples as well as being more likely to adopt older kids and those with special needs.

Atrium Health was a trailblazer in 2015 when it began offering six weeks of paid maternity leave to mothers — a benefit which has been enjoyed by over 3,400 employees.

"There is a special bond that is formed when welcoming a new child into a family," said President and CEO of Atrium Health, Eugene A. Woods. "As Atrium Health continues to embrace our inclusive culture, it is important that we celebrate our teammates' varying journeys to parenthood and provide benefits that support the full health and wellbeing of our families."

Extended Leave

Atrium Health has also extended the offer of paid leave, not only to new mothers but also fathers as well. Studies have shown that fathers taking parental leave can have a significant impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the entire family, including the following benefits:

  • Mothers' post-partum depression declines, need for sick leave declines, and well-being increases
  • Fathers' participation in childcare increases, satisfaction with child interaction improves, and families experience better physical and mental health
  • Couples are 30% less likely to separate and conflict decreases 11% around household division of labor
  • Children show better developmental outcomes and perform better in school — especially daughters

"Atrium Health is an organization that not only offers a workplace where our teammates can grow professionally, but a place that supports their full lives both in and outside of work," said Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Atrium Health, Jim Dunn, PhD. "Research shows that expanded parental leave positively impacts not only the teammate, but their entire family."

Final Thoughts

The changing nature of the American family is helping to create a more diverse and interesting society. However, many companies have been slow to update their benefits packages to accommodate the large variation we now see in families and parents. Thankfully, Atrium Health is not one of them, and these expanded benefits will help all family types at times when they need it the most.


You can hear Atrium Health's Senior Vice President of HR Strategic Operations, Paul Rumsey, speak at HR Healthcare 2020, taking place in June at the Hyatt Regency Austin, TX.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.



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