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2013 AARP Best Employers

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Industry: Government        Location: Washington, D.C.       Website: www.fws.gov

 Winning Years: 2013

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

The SKILLSOFT Online Library is a learning tool that is especially useful to mature employees. The tool offers a wide variety of training courses including computer software programs such as Excel, Word, Power Point, Adobe Dreamweaver, Photoshop and others.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recruits mature employees through its Services Retirees Association and Friends Group. Older workers may also be hired as Pathway students, if they have returned to school for additional training. The Pathways Programs offer clear paths to federal internships for students from high school through postgraduate school and to careers for recent graduates, and provide meaningful training and career development opportunities for individuals who are at the beginning of their federal service.
  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Learning and development programs such as tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes and reimbursement for professional membership dues are offered to all employees. In a recent 12-month period, 100 percent of employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of 10 hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties and awards. Employee opinion survey results prompted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to increase its focus on telework and other flexible work options resulting in a healthy work/life balance for all employees. 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. Employees with special needs are given accommodations such as allowing employees to work remotely from home, providing loaner mobility scooters, service animals, furniture modifications and sign language interpreters. Special software is provided for those with visual and auditory impairments.
  • Benefits/Health: Employees 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, as well as short- and long-term disability. Health benefits for retirees pre-65 and 65-plus include individual and spouse medical and prescription drug coverage, individual and spouse vision and dental coverage, individual and spouse long-term care insurance, the services of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), and 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. Wellness benefits offered to employees include flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and weight loss programs, as well as stress management training. EAP services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  • Benefits/Financial: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees are offered a 401(k) plan with employer match as well as a defined-benefit plan. All new hires are automatically enrolled in the 401(k) 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 the staff of the financial services firm that administers their 401(k) plan and from external financial planning experts. Estate Planning, Financial Retirement Planning, and Health Benefit Planning Seminars are conducted by outside consultants. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off are offered to allow for caregiving. Family Friendly Leave (FFL) gives employees with available sick leave time the benefit of paid time off to care for anyone with whom the employee has an affiliation. Referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare are available to all employees.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: The following alternative work arrangements are offered to employees: 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: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The organization stays connected with its retirees by communicating on a regular basis, inviting retirees to organization events and by formally acknowledging employees upon their retirement. Retirees are offered work opportunities such as temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting, as well as full- and part-time work. Public service work and volunteer opportunities are available.
  • Age of Workforce: Thirty-nine percent of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 22 years.

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

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