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2013 AARP Best Employers

WellStar Health System

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Industry: Hospitals/Health Care        Location: Marietta, Ga.    Website: www.wellstar.org

Winning Years: 2013, 2011, 2009

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

WellStar Health System’s Guidance Resources Program provides retirement and estate planning as well as career counseling and support to employees, retirees and their families. The WellStar Cents program is a Web-based discount purchasing program giving employees access to thousands of name-brand vendors for significant discounts while earning points that can be converted into purchasing dollars. Through the WellStar FlexWorks program, retirees can elect to work as little or as much as they want, providing the position allows for flexible hours.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Recruiting: WellStar Health uses senior placement agencies to target mature workers and retirees.
  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Employees working 16-plus hours per week are eligible for tuition reimbursement while all employees can participate in certification classes, on-line training, in-house classroom training 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 60 hours spent in training. Long service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties and awards. The Decades of Service program offers extra PTO days to employees with long-term service. The following improvements have been made to policies and benefits because of employee request: launched HealthStart, an employee incentivized wellness program, increased time allowed off for paid parental leave and increased the monetary amount given for adoption assistance. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects, and have access to formal job rotation and mentoring programs. The WellStars Return to Work program offers temporary positions to employees returning to work after an injury or medical event.
  • Benefits/Health: Employees working 16-plus hours per week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription drug coverage, and individual and family vision and dental insurance. Short- and long-term disability is offered to employees working 32-plus hours per week. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are available to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs. 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, and stress management training. Ninety-one percent of WellStar Health employees utilized at least one of these wellness-related benefits during a recent 12-month period. Approximately 40 percent of WellStar Health employees participate in the employee wellness program HealthStart. This program provides employees with a personal health coach and rewards employees with monetary incentives for healthy behavior. EAP services are available to full- and part-time employees as well as their family members.
  • Benefits/Financial: Employees are offered a 403(b) plan with employer match, and those working 19-plus hours per week are eligible for a defined-benefit 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 403(b) plan and from external financial planning experts. Free income tax preparation is offered to employees and retirees. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay and paid time off are offered to allow for caregiving. Employees working 16-plus hours per week are eligible for on-site child care and grandchild care while all employees are eligible for on-site elder care, referral services to assist with child care, grandchild care and eldercare, as well as backup care for child care and elder care.
  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Flextime, compressed work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting and a formal phased retirement program are offered to employees working 16-plus hours per week. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent basis.
  • Opportunities for Retirees: WellStar Health has 1,948 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The hospital 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 upon their retirement. 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: Thirty-three percent of WellStar Health employees are age 50-plus. The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 11 years.

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

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