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Commonwealth of Massachusetts – Executive Branch

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2009
Industry: Government - State
Location: Boston, Mass.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts–Executive Branch supports and takes pride in its skilled and mature workforce. By targeting mature workers through programs like Operation A.B.L.E., the Commonwealth has developed a diverse workforce. Currently, 43 percent of the Executive Branch workforce is age 50+.

Recruiting: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts targets older workers by recruiting through placement agencies for older job-seekers and by posting opportunities with Operation A.B.L.E. Operation A.B.L.E. is an employment resource for older workers (ages 45+) that helps them find openings that match their skills and abilities.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Learning and development opportunities offered to all full- and part-time employees include in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Additionally, employees working at least 37 hours per week receive tuition remission for themselves and their spouses. Ninety percent of employees took advantage of at least one learning and development program over the past 12 months, averaging 12 hours of instruction per employee. The Commonwealth also allows up to one day per month of paid volunteering in the community.

Announcements, awards, and parties are used to highlight long-service anniversaries. By holding brown-bag feedback sessions with employees, the Executive Branch has gained support to implement progressive policy changes, such as flextime, a casual dress code, and increased communication between employees and supervisors.

Employees of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can develop new skills through temporary assignments in other departments and team projects. Massachusetts cross-trains employees to help them develop new skills and to help itself recognize and cultivate talent. In order to assist vision-impaired workers with their development and work goals, the Commonwealth has begun to use “JAWS” technology, which helps vision-impaired people use computers.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees working at least 18 hours per week are eligible for individual and family medical and prescription-drug coverage, vision and dental insurance, and long-term disability coverage.

Retirees under and above age 65 are eligible for retiree and spousal medical and prescription-drug coverage, vision and dental insurance, life insurance, and services from the employee assistance program. New hires also become eligible for the benefits upon retirement. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts also offers a health flexible-spending account (FSA) to help workers cover out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Benefits/Financial: The Commonwealth offers employees both a defined-benefit and a 457(b) retirement plan. Employees can invest in life-cycle funds, and those ages 50+ are able to make catch-up contributions. Staff from the firm that administers the 457(b) plan provides financial-planning information to the employees.

Those with caregiving responsibilities can take advantage of paid time off specifically designated for caregiving and unpaid short- and long-term leave. Additionally, the Commonwealth has extended its family and medical leave policy up to 26 weeks. Individual agencies may also extend beyond 26 weeks at their discretion.

Full- and part-time employees of the Commonwealth receive the following wellness benefits: flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, discounts to local health clubs, physical-activity programs, weight-loss programs, and stress-management training. Employees can receive dependent-care assistance on a pre-tax basis, up to $5,000 per year, for help with child care and eldercare.

Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements: Employees in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Branch can take advantage of flextime, compressed-work schedules, job-sharing, and telecommuting. Full-time employees can change to part-time work on a temporary or permanent basis.  

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