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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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2009 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Mercy Health System

Winning Years: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Hospitals/Health care
Location: Janesville, Wis.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

In 2009, Mercy Health System celebrates its fifth straight year on AARP’s list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. Mercy has developed a package of benefits that rewards trained and long-service employees. Its Work-to-Retire program allows employees over age 50 to opt for reduced hours, pool hours, or work-at-home arrangements. Further, it offers employees over age 55 the opportunity to complete 1,000 hours of work seasonally while maintaining annual benefits. Additionally, employees with 10 or more years of service benefit from accelerated time off, license renewals at no charge, and discounted health insurance.

The Mercy Retiree Association enables retirees to maintain their connections with the health system and helps younger employees benefit from the retirees' knowledge and expertise.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Full- and part-time employees of Mercy Health System receive several learning and development opportunities, including tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. To be eligible for the in-house classroom and online training, employees are required to work only one hour per week, while they must work 20 hours per week to qualify for tuition reimbursement and certification classes. In 2008, 100 percent of employees took part in at least one training opportunity, and the average employee received 64 hours of instruction.

Mercy celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards.

Heeding the results of its employee-opinion surveys, Mercy increased the number of retirement-planning sessions for workers, the amount of tuition reimbursement, and the level of support for its child-care and eldercare programs.

The Health System offers temporary job assignments, team projects, and access to a formal job-rotation program to help employees gain new skills.

In order to help decrease workplace injuries, Mercy has invested in new equipment and training. Now its employees can more easily lift and move patients.

Benefits/Health: Mercy Health System offers the following benefits to full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week: individual and family medical and prescription-drug coverage, employee and family dental and long-term-care insurance, and short-term disability coverage. Employees working at least 36 hours per week are also eligible for long-term disability insurance.

Health benefits for retirees below and above age 65 include individual and spousal medical and prescription-drug coverage, individual and spousal dental and long-term-care insurance, and the services of the employee assistance program (EAP). Upon retirement, new hires are eligible for all the benefits for retirees age 65+.

In addition, the Mercy Retiree Association offers free health screenings and other health-related programming. The Senior Connection, a free membership program open to employees and retirees age 55+, provides help with Medicare and health claims, free living-will documents and durable powers of attorney for health care, and a free prescription-discount program. Additionally, Mercy offers a health flexible spending account (FSA) to help workers cover out-of-pocket medical costs.

Benefits/Financial: Mercy offers a 403(b) retirement savings plan with an employer match and a cash-balance plan to its full- and part-time employees. Employees age 50+ can make catch-up contributions. Fellow Mercy employees and the financial services firm that administers the health system's 403(b) plan provide financial-planning information to employees. Further, Mercy offers retirement-planning sessions with an investment adviser eight times per year and upon request.

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