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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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2009 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems

Winning Year: 2009
Industry: Health care/Hospitals
Location: Petoskey, Mich.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies
Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems maintains a flexible workplace with emphasis on learning and development. Employees age 50+ are able to switch among full-time, part-time, and per-diem work schedules to allow for life-changing events. Additionally, workers are able to take advantage of six-month leaves of absence to accommodate dual residences. Upon returning to work, staff members are immediately able to reinstate benefits, without a waiting period or penalties. Forty-one percent of the health systems' employees are age 50+

Recruiting: Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems maintains a list of current retirees interested in converting to part-time or on-call positions. The health system also targets mature workers by strategically placing employment announcements in magazines and newspapers aimed at older audiences.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Learning and development opportunities offered to full- and part-time employees include tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, scholarships, online training, and certification classes. In addition, a career-refresher course is offered to clinical nurses who have moved into management or non-bedside positions in order to help them retain their prior certifications.

All employees are eligible for in-house and online training, while employees must work at least 16 hours per week to qualify for tuition reimbursement and certification classes. In 2008, one hundred percent of employees used at least one of the health systems' development opportunities, for an average of 32 hours per employee.

Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems uses announcements, parties, awards, the annual Service Recognition Dinner, and cash bonuses to highlight employees' long-service anniversaries. The health systems also provide temporary job assignments, team projects, and access to a formal job-rotation program to help employees expand their skills and experience. The “My Shift” program at Northern Michigan Health Systems allows employees to move to new departments in order to acquire new skills.

In an effort to accommodate employees with disabilities, the health systems provide special stethoscopes and voice-recognition software for the hearing impaired and computer screens with magnified images and fonts for the visually impaired.

Benefits/Health: Health benefits for full- and part-time employees working at least 16 hours per week include individual and family medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, and short- and long-term disability coverage.

Retirees under or above age 65 receive the following benefits: retiree and spousal medical and prescription drug coverage, vision, dental, and long-term-care insurance, a death benefit, and the services of the employee assistance program (EAP). Upon retirement, new hires are also eligible for all benefits.

The health system also offers its employees flexible spending accounts (FSA), which enable them to pay out-of-pocket medical costs with pre-tax dollars. 

Benefits/Financial: Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems offers its full- and part-time employees a defined-benefit and a 403(b) defined-contribution plan with an employer match. Employees may invest in life-cycle funds, and employees age 50 and older are able to make catch-up contributions. Members of the internal staff, representatives of the financial services firm that administers the 403(b) plan, and external financial-planning experts provide financial-planning information for the health systems' employees. Additionally, they have the opportunity to take financial wellness courses 10 times per year.

Northern Michigan Regional Health Systems offers unpaid leaves of absence, both short- and long-term, for employees who need time off for caregiving. Employees can take up to one year of unpaid leave and

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