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2013 AARP Best Employers

Swarthmore College


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Industry: Education        Location: Swarthmore, Pa.      Website:

Winning Years: 2013

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Swarthmore College hosts an annual Staff Development Week that gives employees opportunities to improve various skills and network with peers. Mature employees benefit from the technology workshops that provide education on software, creating Web pages, and using readers, tablets and smartphones. Retirees retain access to the college’s athletic facilities and swimming pool.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • 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 employees. Employees must work 18-plus hours per week to be eligible for tuition reimbursement and certification classes. In a recent 12-month period, 100 percent of employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of 22 hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties, awards and gifts. Employee feedback prompted Swarthmore to enhance its wellness programs with the addition of knee replacement and long-term care insurance sessions as well as biometric screenings. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on team projects.
  • Benefits/Health: Employees working 18-plus hours per week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, as well as short-term disability. Long-term disability is offered to employees working 26-plus hours per week. Health benefits for retirees pre-65 include individual and spouse medical and prescription drug coverage, as well as individual and spouse vision and dental coverage. Retirees age 65-plus receive individual and spouse medical and prescription drug 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 club discounts, physical activity and weight loss programs, as well as stress management training. Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  • Benefits/Financial: Swarthmore employees working 18-plus hours per week are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match. All employees are automatically enrolled into 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 the staff of the financial services firm that administers their plan. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay are offered to allow for caregiving. Employees working 18-plus hours per week are offered dependent care services such as referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Full- and part-time employees can work compressed work schedules and employees working 35-plus hours per week can participate in 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: Swarthmore has 100 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The college 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, and full- and part-time work are employment opportunities offered to retirees.
  • Age of Workforce: Forty-nine percent of Swarthmore College employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 16 years.

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

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