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AARP Best Employers 2013

National Institutes of Health

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Industry: Government-State            Location: Bethesda, Md.            Website: www.nih.gov       

Winning Years: 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provides an array of financial planning information and training to its employees. The Recreation & Welfare Association conducts regular financial planning seminars, and the NIH Training Center, the NIH Credit Union and the NIH Benefits office host quarterly seminars on topics such as estate planning, strategic college funding, Thrift Savings Plan investing, Social Security, and investing and fraud avoidance tips. Preretirement classes are held for employees within five years of retirement. The NIH has a website listing employment opportunities exclusively for retired federal employees.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: NIH participates in an annual 50-plus job fair and sends letters to recent NIH retirees to notify them of current job openings. In addition, NIH uses organizations such as Peace Corps Returned Volunteers, community agencies for veterans, professional membership organizations, and local college/university alumni associations for recruiting.

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: NIH employees are eligible for 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 eight hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties and awards. NIH’s employee opinion survey results led to an expansion of wellness activities and resources, including offering more on-site, low-impact exercise classes free of charge. In addition, NIH increased its support of telecommuting options. Employees can develop new skills by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects, and by participating in formal job rotation and mentoring programs. NIH accommodates employees with special needs by providing workspace and computer modifications such as software designed for the visually impaired.

  • Benefits/Health: All employees receive individual and family medical coverage; individual and family prescription drug coverage; individual and family vision and dental insurance; and individual and family long-term care insurance; and as well as short- and long-term disability. Health benefits for retirees pre-65 and retirees age 65-plus include individual and spouse medical and drug coverage; individual and spouse vision and dental coverage; individual and spouse long-term care insurance; and 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. Full- and part-time employees receive the following wellness benefits: flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and weight loss programs, and stress management training. Fifty-three percent of NIH employees participated in at least one of these wellness-related benefits during a recent 12-month period. The ‘Fit Plus Program’ supports the needs of employees age 50-plus who are beginning or maintaining a fitness program. The goal of the program is to get participants involved in exercise, and to encourage and develop healthy behaviors. EAP services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.

  • Benefits/Financial: NIH employees are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match, and a defined benefit plan. All new hires are automatically enrolled into the plan, employees may choose to invest in lifecycle funds that automatically reallocate assets based on employee’s age or proximity to retirement, and employees age 50-plus are able to make ‘catch up’ contributions to their plan. Staff members, staff from the financial services firm that administers the 403(b) plan, and external financial planning experts provide financial planning information and training to employees.  Employees are offered paid time off that is specifically designated for caregiving and the Voluntary Leave Transfer Program allows participating federal employees to share their accrued annual leave with others. NIH employees are offered dependent care benefits including on-site child and grandchild care, referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and elder care, as well as backup care for child care, grandchild care and elder care.

  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: NIH employees are offered alternative work arrangements such as 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: NIH stays connected with its retirees by communicating regularly, inviting retirees to organization events, providing retirees with ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information, and by formally acknowledging employees upon their retirement. The following work arrangements are offered to retirees: temporary work assignments, consulting/contract work and telecommuting, as well as full- and part-time work.

  • Age of Workforce: Forty-seven percent of NIH employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 18.4 years.

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

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