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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2009, 2008
Industry: Not for Profit - Other
Location: Arlington, Va.
Website: www.nreca.coop

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This year, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) makes its second consecutive appearance on AARP's list of the Best Employers for Workers Over 50. NRECA offers employees a benefits package that includes perks like free preventive-care exams. Employees can also choose from a number of alternative-work arrangements, ranging from flextime to the ability to telework up to three days per week. Currently, 37 percent of NRECA's workforce is age 50+, with an average tenure of 11.8 years.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association offers full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, external training and conferences, online training, and certification classes.  In 2008, 100 percent of employees took part in one of the development activities, and the average staff member spent 60 hours in training. 

NRECA celebrates its employees' long-service milestones with announcements, awards, parties, and gifts. Employees with anniversaries of more than 25 years are recognized with a gift, an event, and an individual presentation by the CEO.

Based on the results of its employee surveys, NRECA has implemented a paid-time-off (PTO) policy for volunteers, to reward employees for volunteering, and has expanded the telecommuting and alternative-work-arrangement policies. Employees looking to gain new experiences and skills can take advantage of team projects, temporary assignments, and cross-functional teams and task groups. 

NRECA is committed to maintaining an accommodating work environment by giving employees' work areas ergonomic assessments, installing specialized equipment, and by providing a lactation room for new mothers.

Benefits/Health: All employees working at least 20 hours per week are eligible for individual and family medical, prescription-drug, dental, vision, and long-term disability coverage. Full-time employees are also eligible for short-term disability. Retirees under or above age 65, and new hires upon retirement, are eligible for individual and spousal medical, prescription-drug, dental, vision, and individual life insurance. NRECA also offers its employees flexible spending accounts (FSA) with an employer match. Employees are encouraged to use the FSA accounts to take care of out-of-pocket medical expenses with pre-tax dollars.

Benefits/Financial: NRECA offers all employees working at least 20 hours per week both a defined-benefit and an employer-matched, defined-contribution, 401(k) plan. In order to encourage employees to take part, all staff members working the necessary hours are automatically enrolled. All employees also have the option to invest in life-cycle funds, and those over age 50 have the option to make catch-up contributions. NRECA employees, on-site workshops, and representatives of the financial-services firm that offers the retirement plans—all provide financial-planning information to the association’s employees. One-on-one retirement and asset-planning meetings with a licensed/certified professional from a Personal Investment Retirement Consulting service are also available.

NRECA offers employees paid time off and unpaid short- and long-term leave to manage caregiving responsibilities. Outside of vacation and leave time, the following wellness benefits are open to all full- and part-time employees: flu shots, health-risk appraisals, health screenings, discounts for health clubs, physical activity and weight-loss programs, smoking-cessation programs, stress-management training, and on-site fitness classes.  During the past 12 months, 19 percent of all employees took part in at least one of the association's wellness benefits.

NRECA also offers full- and part-time employees on-site child care and referral services to help them find care for children, grandchildren, and elders.

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