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2013 AARP Best Employers

Virginia Commonwealth University


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Industry: Education: Other               Location: Richmond, Va.       Website:

 Winning Years: 2013, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005

 Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Virginia Commonwealth University’s employee wellness program, CommonHealth, offers educational seminars on topics such as diabetes awareness, healthy eating, and the importance of exercise and fitness. All faculty retiring from VCU become members of the Retired Faculty Council. The council provides a means for retired faculty to stay in touch with the university and to remain involved with university affairs. Retired faculty receive discounts at the VCU Bookstore, and for theater, musical and athletic events held on campus. In addition, retirees can audit up to three courses a semester tuition-free.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: VCU uses senior placement agencies to target mature workers and retirees. In addition, through the VCU Retiree Connection, retirees are hired to fill temporary assignments within the university.

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Learning and development programs such as in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes and reimbursement of professional membership dues are offered to all employees. Tuition reimbursement and tuition waivers are offered exclusively to full-time employees. In a recent 12-month period, 50 percent of VCU employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities with an average of 150 hours spent in training. Long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties, gifts and awards. Faculty and staff recommendations prompted VCU to add a Roth IRA to its retirement planning option. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. VCU offers workplace accommodations such as providing screen-reading software and adjustable workstations, and gives employees flexible scheduling options to meet medical needs.

  • Benefits/Health: VCU 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. 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. Retirees also receive a health insurance credit based on their years of service. 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, as well as stress management training. Fifty-two percent of VCU 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: VCU employees are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match, a money-purchase defined contribution plan, as well as a defined-benefit 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 the financial services firm that administers their 403(b) plan and from external financial planning experts. Retirement and Investment Education is offered individually and in group sessions and a Retirement and Benefits Fair is offered every other year. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off are offered to allow for caregiving. Employees are offered dependent care services such as on-site child care, grandchild care and eldercare, as well as referral services 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 employees working 20-plus hours per week. A formal phased retirement program is offered exclusively to full-time employees. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: VCU has 1,060 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, by providing retirees with ongoing access to retirement planning workshops and information. Retirees are offered the following work opportunities: temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting and part-time work.
  • Age of Workforce: Thirty-eight percent of VCU employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 15.9 years.

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

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