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2013 AARP Best Employers

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc.

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Industry: Not for Profit             Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.            Website: www.wsifb.com

Winning Years: 2013, 2009

Highlights of 2013 Winning Strategies

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind Inc. hosts annual health fairs for its employees. The health fairs offer bone density tests, dental exams, blood pressure tests, support groups for various eye diseases and health conditions, nutrition classes, and a diabetes and hypertension prevention and management program. The organization has its own transportation system that is widely used by mature employees.

Additional Policies and Practices

  • Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Learning and development opportunities offered to employees working 30-plus hours per week include tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, certification classes, online training and reimbursement of professional membership dues. In a recent 12-month period, 75 percent of 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, monetary gifts after 10 years of service and awards. Based on employee opinion surveys, Industries for the Blind has introduced the following changes: better transportation for employees, healthier cafeteria options, added an on-site health clinic with professional medical staff and support groups for various diseases. Employees have opportunities to gain new experiences by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. Industries for the Blind’s Job Conversion Team continually accommodates its visually impaired employees. Accommodation examples include converting its work stations to be user-friendly for the blind (i.e. adding a closed-circuit television so an employee could see the settings on the sewing machine), allowing employees to work part time upon request, and providing education on computer and Internet literacy skills.

  • Benefits/Health: Employees working 30-plus hours per week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, and short- and long-term disability. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) are available to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs. Employees are offered flu shots, health screenings, health risk appraisals, smoking cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity programs such as walking classes, weight loss programs, an on-site indoor gym, as well as stress management training. Seventy-six percent of Industries for the Blind employees utilized at least one of these wellness-related 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: Employees working 30-plus hours per week are offered a 403(b) plan and stock options, profit sharing or a similar plan. A defined-benefit plan is offered to employees working 20-plus hours per week. Employees age 50-plus can 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. Credit counseling training is offered. Short- and long-term leaves of absence without pay are offered for caregiving needs.

  • Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Flextime and compressed work schedules are alternative work options offered to employees working 30-plus hours per week. Telecommuting is offered to full-time employees working 40 hours per week. Full-time employees are eligible to move to part-time work on a permanent or temporary basis.

  • Opportunities for Retirees: Industries for the Blind has 31 retirees and an individual directly responsible for retiree relations. The organization stays connected with its retirees by inviting retirees to organization events and by formally acknowledging employees upon their retirement. Industries for the Blind offers retirees full- and part-time work assignments.

  • Age of Workforce: Fifty percent of Industries for the Blind employees are age 50-plus.The average tenure of employees age 50-plus is 6.3 years.

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

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