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2013 AARP Best Employers

Saint Vincent Health System


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Industry: Hospitals/Health Care         Location: Erie, Pa.     Website:

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

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Saint Vincent Health System (SVHS) employees automatically become members of the Retired Saint Vincent Valued Pacesetters (RSVP) program upon retirement. Retirees are rehired through the program and those participating in phased retirement can work up to 1,000 hours per year, receive their pension benefit, and continue their health, dental and vision benefits as well as contribute to their 401(k) and 403(b) plans.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: SVHS uses senior placement agencies to target mature workers and retirees.
  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: SVHS employees working 20-plus hours per week are eligible for tuition reimbursement and reimbursement on their professional membership dues. Certification classes, in-house classroom training and online training are offered to employees working eight-plus hours per week. During 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. Employees with 25 or more years of service become members of the Quarter Century Club and participate in philanthropic events in the community. In response to SVHS’s employee requests, a Leadership Rounding program was implemented to provide opportunities for leaders to meet with associates to foster better communication. Feedback from these meetings resulted in practice and policy changes in staffing, communication, benefits, pension and timekeeping. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments, on team projects and by having access to formal mentoring programs. Accommodations made for SVHS employees includes ergonomic evaluations for mature employees to ensure proper placement of wrist rests/splints, elbow straps and computer repositioning, and the implementation of ceiling lift devices, hover mats, smooth movers and hover jacks to assist in patient transfers.
  • Benefits/Health: Employees receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription drug coverage, and individual and family vision and dental insurance. Short-term disability is offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week and long-term disability is offered to employees working 35-plus hours per week. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are available to help employees cover out-of-pocket health care costs. In addition, the Employer Home Host Program reduces deductible and coinsurance costs for employees if they use SVHS hospital services. Wellness benefits offered to full- and part-time employees include flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and weight loss programs, an on-site SV HealthyU Fitness & Wellness Center, on-site massages, health fairs and stress management training. Eighty-nine percent of SVHS employees utilized at least one of these wellness-related benefits in a recent 12-month period. Participation in the New HealthyU Wellness Where You Work program gives employees a monetary reward for completing the following steps: getting a flu shot, doing biometric testing and a preventative health exam, attending one HealthyU educational program, and completing an on-line wellness profile. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  • Benefits/Financial: All employees are offered 401(k) and 403(b) plans with employer match, and employees working 20-plus hours per week are offered a cash-balance or other hybrid plan. All new hires and all employees are automatically enrolled into the savings plans, employees age 50-plus can make catch-up contributions to their plan and may choose to invest in lifecycle funds that automatically reallocate assets based on age or proximity to retirement. Staff members, staff from the financial services firm that administers the plans, and external financial planning experts provide financial planning information and training to employees. Employees are offered short- and long-term leave of absences without pay and paid time off for caregiving needs. Employees can donate their paid time off and also take time-off hours when needed from the Saint Vincent Special Needs Bank. SVHS employees working four-plus hours per week are offered on-site child care and grandchild care, backup care to assist with child care and grandchild care, and referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting are alternative work arrangements offered to employees working four-plus hours per week. Employees must work 20-plus hours per week to participate in the formal phased retirement program. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: SVHS has 850 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The health system stays connected with its retirees by communicating on a regular basis, inviting retirees to organization events, and by providing retirees with ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information. The following work arrangements are offered to retirees: temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting, and full- and part-time work.
  • Age of Workforce: Forty percent of SVHS employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 20 years.

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

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