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2013 AARP Best Employers

George Mason University

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Industry: Education       Location: Fairfax, Va.    Website: www.gmu.edu

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

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

George Mason University’s Retirement Connection provides retirees with a myriad of gifts upon retirement including complimentary tickets to a performance at the Center for the Arts and to a university basketball game, a 30-day pass to the university fitness facility, and complimentary parking for one year. Retirees with 30-plus years of service receive a free lifetime membership to the fitness facility. Employees with 15-plus years of creditable service at retirement are eligible for a health insurance credit to assist with insurance premium costs.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: George Mason is a member of the Military Spouse Employment Partnership and participates in their job fairs, which cater to mature workers.
  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Learning and development programs such as tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training and certification classes are offered to all employees. Professional membership dues are reimbursed for full-time employees. In a recent 12-month period, 47 percent of employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of five hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties and awards. Results gathered from employee surveys prompted George Mason to add more frequent bus service and introduce a new carpool program. In addition, human resources and payroll are working on a joint flexible work site to centralize and improve information on flexible work options, and the university is developing a one-on-one retirement coaching program for faculty. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on team projects, and by having access to formal mentoring programs. George Mason provides assistive technologies such as screen readers, screen magnification and voice recognition software. Sign language interpreters are also available.
  • Benefits/Health: George Mason employees working 20-plus hours per week are eligible for 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. Health benefits for retirees pre-65 and retirees age 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), as well as individual 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. 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, and stress management training. CommonHealth, the wellness benefit for state employees, offers wellness programs such as Lighten Up (healthy eating), Moving Forward with Fitness, Future Moms and Just Drive Virginia (safe driving). Fifty-one percent of George Mason 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: George Mason employees are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match. Employees working 20-plus hours per week are eligible for a defined-benefit plan, and a money-purchase defined contribution plan. All new hires are automatically enrolled in the 403(b) 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 of the financial services firm that administers their 403(b) plan. George Mason hosts an annual preretirement seminar for employees approaching retirement. The seminar provides one-on-one financial counseling, presentations on finances and health care, and resources on social/wellness/volunteer opportunities in retirement. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off are offered to allow for caregiving. Specifically, 32 hours of family and personal leave is offered annually. Employees are offered dependent care services such as on-site child care and grandchild care, as well as referral services and backup care to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Alternative work arrangements such as flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting are offered to all George Mason employees. A formal phased retirement program is offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: George Mason has 399 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. Temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, and part-time work are employment opportunities offered to retirees.
  • Age of Workforce: Thirty-nine percent of George Mason employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 12.3 years.

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

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