One bank is making it easy for its employees to plan a baby shower or figure out which breast pump to buy.

Fifth Third Bank, a financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, has added a maternity concierge program to its family-friendly benefits package.

The program, which rolled out in January, helps new and expecting moms focus on their work duties while delegating baby-related tasks to a concierge. Support lasts for two years, from conception to the child’s first birthday.

[Image: Bloomberg]
[Image: Bloomberg]

“As we went through the process of getting feedback from our employees, one of the areas that we kept coming back to related to the unique challenges faced by women as they get pregnant, go through the maternity-leave process and, particularly, come back [to work],” says Bob Shaffer, chief human resources officer, executive vice president, at Fifth Third Bank. “There was a little higher turnover rate than we’d like to see [within a woman’s first year after giving birth]. We felt a need to take a look at the situation.”

The goal of the program is to reduce distractions and help women concentrate on their work in the office, Shaffer says.

The concierges, who are hired, trained and employed by vendor Best Upon Request, provide women with assistance before the baby comes and help ease them back into the workforce. As of mid-June, the bank has almost 200 women across 10 states enrolled in the program.

“A lot of women have the second shift,” says Best Upon Request’s Jessi Lima Bollin, who worked on developing the program with First Third Bank. “It’s a lot to manage. If they feel that their employer knows that and can acknowledge that it’s a lot to juggle, [new moms are likely to stay at the company].”

Not only can participants get an extra hand, but the concierges are also trained to help guide the women throughout the pregnancy and child’s first year, a helpful service for women who are pregnant with their first child.

Best Upon Request, which operates in 20 states, worked in collaboration with Fifth Third Bank to develop the program. The bank already was one of Best on Request’s 27 clients — the vendor’s core business is an on-site employee concierge program that lets employees send out for dry cleaning, grocery shopping and other delivery-like errands — and when Best on Request chief administrative officer Teresa Tanner suggested the maternity concierge program to Bollin, the two companies went to work to develop a program that helps about 500 female employees each year.

See also: Women miss promotions for maternity leave: study

“Working mothers have always been a huge user of the [concierge] program,” Bollin says. “We put together a whole proposal with our resources and connection with mothers just from our network.”

The maternity service currently is exclusive to Fifth Third Bank, but the vendor plans to begin marketing the program in 2018, Bollin says.

Although Shaffer wouldn’t disclose how much the company spends on the two full-time maternity program concierges, Bollin says one of Best on Request’s regular concierge costs a company around $100,000 per year.

Best Upon Request plans to charge more for the maternity concierges, who receive a different type of training and have a specific expertise, she says. The company has gotten “very positive feedback” on this offshoot product, she says.

“Everyone’s so surprised and grateful that the bank invested in something so specific,” Bollin says. “The response has been amazing.”

All 22 female employees who filled out a survey within the first 90 days of the maternity concierge service said they are satisfied with the program, that they felt valued by their employer because of the service, and that they are more likely to stay with Fifth Third.

“This program fits in nicely with our focus on inclusion and diversity,” says Shaffer. “It is definitely something that we will continue to utilize to attract women to our company.”

The maternity concierge program is just the latest addition to a robust family leave program offered by the bank.

Female employees who have been at the bank for three years and have a vaginal delivery are provided with six weeks of maternity leave, at 100% of their salary. A C-section delivery would warrant eight weeks of fully paid leave, says Laura Trujillo, senior manager of corporate communications at Fifth Third.

As of Aug. 1, all new moms and dads will get four weeks of fully paid parental bonding time, in addition to the paid maternity leave.

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