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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Cornell University

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Education/Post-Secondary
Location: Ithaca, N.Y.
2008 Rank: 1

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

Cornell University ranks number one among AARP’s Best Employers for Workers Over 50 in 2008. From numerous programs and perks to foster professional development and work-life balance, employees can pick those tailored to their specific needs.

In response to employee and retiree feedback, Cornell University offers a special program called Opportunities for Healthy Aging. Nine free or discounted classes are held each week to target health and fitness issues facing older adults. The Cornell Retirees Association, free for all retirees, keeps them informed about employment opportunities with the university and helps maintain connections between retirees and the university. Forty-three percent of Cornell University employees are age 50+.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Recruiting: Cornell University uses placement agencies for older job-seekers to target mature workers and retirees. In addition, the Cornell Association of Professors Emeriti shares opportunities with retired faculty, and the Cornell Recruitment and Employment Center promotes recruitment of mature workers and retirees.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: To its full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week, Cornell offers the following learning and development programs: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes.

In addition, employees working at least 35 hours per week can take Extramural Studies classes (courses are tuition-free but do not lead to a degree), and employees accepted into Cornell can be part of the Employee Degree Program (courses are tuition-free and lead to a degree). In the past 12 months, 42 percent of Cornell employees participated in at least one of its educational opportunities, with an average of 28 hours spent in training.

Cornell marks long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, gifts, and awards.

Due to employee requests, the university now offers long-term care insurance to employees.

Employees are able to develop new skills by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. Cornell offers employees age 50+ unique assignments to enhance their careers, including supervisory training, customer service, leadership development, project management, strategic planning, organization design, team building, training plans, conflict resolution, and change-management classes.

Cornell accommodates employees with special needs by making equipment modifications, moving them from full- to part-time status, modifying job duties, and providing special areas where diabetics can check their blood-sugar levels.

Benefits/Health: Cornell offers generous health care coverage and wellness benefits. Full- and part-time employees working 20 or more 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 long-term disability. The university offers short-term disability coverage to all employees (only one hour per week is required for this benefit).

Health benefits for retirees under age 65 and 65+ include individual and spousal medical and drug coverage, individual and spousal vision insurance, individual and spousal long-term care insurance, EAP services, and individual life insurance or other death-benefit coverage. New hires are eligible for all these benefits upon retirement.

Cornell also offers employees flexible-spending and health-savings accounts to help cover out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: Cornell offers a 403(b) plan with employer match and a money-purchase defined contribution plan to its full- and part-time employees. Employees may invest in lifecycle funds, and those age 50+ can make catch-up contributions.

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