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2013 AARP Best Employers

Cornell University


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Industry: Education            Location: Ithaca, N.Y.       Website:

Winning Years: 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Cornell University’s Encore (Engaging Cornell Retirees) Program is designed to meet the diverse lifestyles of its retirees and foster their continuing relationship with the university. Encore is composed of four components: Encore Hire, which connects retirees with temporary work assignments at Cornell and the community; Encore Volunteer, which connects retirees with volunteer opportunities at Cornell and the community; Encore On-Call, which provides retirees with the opportunity to share their expertise; and Encore and More, which provides retirees with information on resources, classes and events to support personal growth and development.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: Cornell’s Recruitment and Employment Center presents educational sessions on job search strategies for older job seekers at local career centers and county organizations.

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Learning and development programs such as tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, certification classes and reimbursement of professional membership dues are offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week. All employees are offered on-line training. In a recent 12-month period, 34 percent of employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of 34 hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties, gifts and awards. 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: Cornell employees working 20-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 long-term disability. Short-term disability is offered to all employees. Health benefits for retirees pre-65 and retirees age 65-plus include individual and spouse medical and prescription drug coverage, individual and spouse long-term care insurance, the services of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), as well as individual and spouse life insurance or other death benefit coverage. New hires are eligible for all of the above benefits upon retirement. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are available to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs. In addition, upon retirement, unused sick leave is converted into a credit toward future retiree health insurance premiums. Full- and part-time employees are offered flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs or counseling, health club discounts, physical activity and weight loss programs, health-related webinars, and stress management training. Forty-four percent of Cornell employees utilized at least one of these wellness benefits during a recent 12-month period. EAP services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  •  Benefits/Financial: Cornell employees are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match. Employees working 20-plus hours per week are eligible for a money-purchase defined contribution plan. Employees age 50-plus can make catch-up contributions to their plan, and plan participants may choose to invest in lifecycle funds that automatically reallocate assets based on age or proximity to retirement. Employees are offered financial education from staff members, from the staff of the financial services firm that administers their 403(b) plan, and from external financial planning experts. Cornell provides numerous financial planning webinars and free online courses. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off are offered for caregiving needs. Employees are offered dependent care services such as on-site child care and grandchild care, as well as referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare, and backup care to assist with child care and grandchild care.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Alternative work arrangements such as flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting are offered to Cornell employees working 20-plus hours per week. A formal phased retirement program is offered to employees working 30-plus hours per week. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: Cornell has 4,257 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The university 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 on their retirement. All Cornell retirees are automatically enrolled in the Cornell Retirees Association, which is an outlet for networking and service. The Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti is an organization for retired faculty that offers lectures, roundtable luncheons and volunteer programs. Temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting, as well as full- and part-time work are employment opportunities offered to retirees.
  •  Age of Workforce: Forty-four percent of Cornell employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 17.5 years.

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

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