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2013 AARP Best Employers

Mountain States Health Alliance


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Industry: Hospitals/Health Care         Location: Johnson City, Tenn.            Website:   

Winning Years: 2013

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Mountain States Health Alliance (MSHA) developed a job-sharing program that offers alternative work schedules flexible to the needs of mature employees. The program gives employees the option of working a part-time schedule, yet maintaining full-time benefits. Mature employees are able to ease into early retirement through this program. MSHA’s Fit4Life program is a points-based system that encourages employees to make healthy choices. Employees participating in the program receive reductions to their medical premiums based on the points they have accrued.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: MSHA conducts recruitment fairs specifically aimed at hiring mature workers.
  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Employees working 20-plus hours per week are offered the following learning and development programs: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, and reimbursement for 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 12 hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties and awards. MSHA employees also earn additional vacation and sick time, and greater retirement contributions as their years of service increase. Feedback from MSHA’s employee engagement survey and focus group meetings prompted the organization to increase the 401(k) contribution for physician practice employees, a Retiree Relationship Manager position was created to help employees approaching retirement, a job-sharing program was created so employees can ease into retirement, new recruitment material was developed that better reflects MSHA’s older workforce, and a recruitment fair targeted to older employees was held. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects, and by having access to formal mentoring programs. Employees recovering from illness are allowed to work reduced schedules, and job modifications are made for employees with physical limitations.
  • Benefits/Health: 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 short- and long-term disability. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and an employer-funded health savings account (HSAs) are available to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs. Employees are offered 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. Ninety-three percent of MSHA employees utilized at least one of these wellness-related benefits in a recent 12-month period. Employee Assistance Program services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  • Benefits/Financial: MSHA’s employees are offered a 401(k) plan with employer match. Employees age 50-plus can make catch-up contributions to their plan, and plan participants may 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 savings plan and from external financial planning experts. Retirement representatives provide education opportunities through mailings, seminars and individual meetings on topics such as Social Security, Medicare supplements and retirement income strategies. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay are offered to allow for caregiving. On-site child care as well as referral services to assist with child care are offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: The following alternative work arrangements are offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week: flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting and a formal phased retirement program. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: MSHA has 340 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The health alliance stays connected with its retirees by communicating regularly, by inviting retirees to organization events, and by providing them with ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information. Retirees can participate in employment opportunities such as temporary work assignments, and consulting or contract work, as well as full- and part-time work.
  • Age of Workforce: Thirty-one percent of MSHA employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 12.7 years.

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

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