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AT&T - Human Resources Department of the Year

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Company: AT&T, Dallas, TX
Entry Submitted By: FleishmanHillard
Company Description: AT&T Inc. is a premier communications holding company, one of the most honored in the world. Its powerful array of network resources includes the nation’s largest 4G network. AT&T is a leading provider of wireless, Wi- Fi, high speed Internet and voice-based services. AT&T employs more than 250,000 people worldwide, including all 50 U.S. states. Find more information at
Nomination Category: Human Resources Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Human Resources Department of the Year

Nomination Title: The workforce evolution continues at AT&T

Tell the story about what this nominated organization/department has achieved since January 1, 2016 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

Change remains the one constant in AT&T’s history. With the acquisition of DIRECTV, continuous change requires a workforce transformed to meet the needs of our ever-evolving business. We’ve long recognized that this evolution called for an elite training program. After becoming CEO in 2007, Randall Stephenson focused on aligning the company around a common culture, strategy, and priorities. He worked with the HR team to launch AT&T University, which serves as our primary vehicle for delivering employee training and development; along with our flagship training program, Leading with Distinction.

We’re currently in the midst of one of the most significant transformations in our history, working to virtualize 75% of our massive hardware-based network by 2020. Adding to the challenge, senior leaders have quickly realized that our workforce lacked the skills necessary to run a huge software infrastructure, which is key in this evolution.

Rather than seeking out new talent from outside the business, we began an effort in 2011 to engage and re-skill nearly 270,000 employees. In March, Fortune magazine described it as “what may be the most ambitious program for retraining workers in the history of American business,” and as “a model for other companies.”

Why it’s happening

AT&T needed a skills pivot to move our workforce from the days of hardware and wireline technology, to software and wireless, becoming data focused in the move towards an effortless experience. The end goal: Every employee – even those who don’t work directly on the network – has an opportunity to align with our business strategy of the future.

We increasingly find that employees can immediately apply their new skills to existing positions or use them to successfully transition to new roles. For management jobs in our Technology and Operations group (ATO), internal applicants who completed training as part of our Skills Transformation effort were twice as likely to be hired new positions and four times more likely to advance their career last year as applicants who didn’t take the training.

For instance, Nathaniel Meyer, 37, started work with AT&T right out of high school in 2000 as an electronic technician monitoring our network. Within a few years, he saw the technology he was working with quickly becoming outdated. Meyer then enrolled in and completed the first-ever Online Master of Science in Computer Science (OMS CS) program – birthed from a partnership with AT&T, Georgia Tech and Udacity Inc. – with AT&T covering the cost. In May he moved to Plano, Texas, to start his new AT&T job as a Big Data Scientist.

Investment in our people is part of why employees love AT&T: This year, for the first time, AT&T made Fortune’s list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For.

How we’re doing it

We’re providing our employees with a range of options – both internal and external. In 2016, AT&T invested about $250 million in training employees – providing more than 20 million hours of training – plus nearly $34 million in tuition aid. Each year, we grow academic partnerships to expand offerings to our employees. In August 2016, we collaborated with Notre Dame to announce a new online Master of Science degree with a specialization in data science, building on the academic foundation we established with Georgia Tech and Udacity.

Our focus is transparency and empowerment – creating tools and processes that help empower employees to take control of their own development and their own careers.

In our focus, we launched the Personal Learning Experience (PLE) in February, which gives employees a single place to go to plan, access, view, manage and track learning. An employee can search for jobs based on his or her current competencies. One might identify 20 jobs for which they’re at least 50 percent qualified, choose those they’re most interested in, then see – and even link to – training required for those jobs.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) accomplishments of the nominated department since the beginning of 2016 (up to 150 words).

• Employees immediately applying new skills in existing positions, or to transition into new roles. ATO management employees who completed training were twice as likely to be hired for a new company job last year, and 4x more likely to advance in their careers.
• Great participation. Through February 2017:
• More than 2.6M courses completed overall.
• About 57,000 employees earned nearly 174,000 badge certifications after completing all required coursework.
• Nearly 20,000 learners worldwide, including nearly 2,000 AT&T employees, enrolled in Nanodegree programs.
• Increased opportunity. AT&T keeps adding to nearly three dozen academic partnerships (now including Notre Dame University) with leading colleges and universities that offer employees dramatically discounted tuition, allowing them to pursue a wide spectrum of tech-related certifications and degrees.
• Tools and transparency. Employees now have the Personal Learning Experience (PLE). The PLE provides employees with a single place to plan, access, view, manage and track their learning progress.