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2013 AARP Best Employers

Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center


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Industry: Hospitals/Health Care            Location: Sioux Falls, S.D.            Website:

Winning Years: 2013, 2011

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center’s Onboarding Program for Nursing matches experienced nurse mentors with new employees. Health coaching is offered to all Avera McKennan employees. Personalized sessions are provided to discuss individual goals, assessment of strengths and weaknesses, and for evaluating biometric measures.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: Avera McKennan uses senior placement agencies to target mature workers and retirees. The health system also has a relationship with BRIDGES Employment Center, a local Center for Active Generations Group.

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Avera McKennan offers its employees the following learning and development programs: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes and reimbursement of professional membership dues. In a recent 12-month period, 100 percent of employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of six hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties, gifts and awards. In the past three years Avera McKennan has enhanced several of its benefits programs. The To Your Health Employee Wellness Program offers employees free health screenings, a health assessment and a personal session with a health coach. Employees participating in the program receive discounts on their health insurance premiums. The Avera Medical Leave program was enhanced by allowing employees the option to submit their requests online for easier processing. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments, on team projects, and by having access to formal job rotation and mentoring programs.

  • Benefits/Health: Employees working 18-plus hours per week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, individual and family long-term care insurance, and short- and long-term disability. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are available to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs. Full- and part-time employees are offered flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs, health club discounts, stress management training, and weight loss programs or counseling. Sixty-one percent of Avera McKennan employees utilized at least one of these wellness benefits during a recent 12-month period. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.

  • Benefits/Financial: Employees working 18-plus hours per week are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match, a defined-benefit plan and a cash-balance plan. All employees are automatically enrolled in the 403(b) plan, employees age 50-plus can make catch-up contributions to their plan and may also invest in lifecycle funds that automatically reallocate assets based on age or proximity to retirement. Staff from the financial services firm that administers the 403(b) plan provide financial information and training to employees. Employees are offered short-term and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off for caregiving needs. Avera McKennan offers referral services to assist with child care and grandchild care to its employees.

  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Employees can participate in alternative work arrangements such as flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.

  • Opportunities for Retirees: Avera McKennan has 950 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The health system stays connected with its retirees by communicating on a regular basis, inviting retirees to organization events, providing retirees with ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information, and by formally acknowledging employees upon retirement. Avera McKennan Hospital and University Health Center’s Avera Ambassadors is a group, composed mainly of retirees, that includes hospital auxiliary members and volunteers. The ambassadors represent the health center at special events, raise funds in support of the hospital’s mission and attend monthly luncheon meetings The Avera McKennan LAMPS program (Loyal Ambassadors of the Mission of the Pioneer Sisters) consists of employees with 25-plus years of service. Retirees are offered work opportunities such as temporary work assignments and part-time work.

  • Age of Workforce: Thirty-two percent of Avera McKennan employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 8.9 years.

Also of Interest: More AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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