AARP Studies Best Employers

Article excerpt

Bon secours Richmond Health System of Richmond, Va., and SSM Health Care of St. Louis, Mo., offer phased retirement programs that allow employees to collect full retirement benefits while continuing to work part-time or reduced hours. These older workers also receive full health and other benefits.

Volkswagen of America, in Auburn Hills, Mich., administers a flexiblespending program that allows employees to allocate up to $5,000 in pretax earnings to a special account that workers can use to pay for such needs as childcare and eldercare.

Pitney Bowes, in Stamford, Conn., retained an older employee with a heart condition by moving him into a less strenuous job. And the Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa, kept a valued worker who developed vision problems by purchasing a magnicam, enabling the employee to place documents under a camera lens and view the enlarged text on a TY monitor.

These firms were among 35 companies across the United States recently named as AARP's 2004 "Best Employers for Workers Over 50."

Along with its fourth annual list of honorees, AARP released "Staying Ahead of the Curve 2004: Employer Best Practices for Mature Workers," a detailed analysis of the best practices among winning employers during the previous three years. Some of the primary themes that emerged from the analysis were:

Attracting and retaining the right workforce. Among the measures taken by winning companies were offering phased retirement programs, flexible schedules through part-time work or jobsharing, career counseling, and time off to care for dependents beyond the requirements of the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, as well as reducing the physical demands of work.

Implementing new programs focused on mature workers. Most winning firms implemented retirement planning and preparation programs. Added benefits, such as permitting mature workers to add "catch-up" contributions into their 401 (k) plans or offering the ability to purchase group long-term care insurance, were also common. Most such measures, except for those involving healthcare costs, require only a modest employer investment, according to the report. …