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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

YMCA of Greater Rochester

2009 Winner

Winning Years:  2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry:   Private – Nonprofit
Location: Rochester, N.Y.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

The YMCA of Greater Rochester is in its fifth straight year of making AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. Retirees have the opportunity to participate in a formal phased-retirement program while continuing to receive their pension benefits. Rehired retirees are also able to keep collecting payments from their retirement-savings plans. Retirees age 65+ receive all the same health benefits as their currently working counterparts and many of the same wellness benefits. The company also engages employees through its Mentoring Across Generations program.

Recruiting: The YMCA of Greater Rochester uses placement agencies for older job seekers to target mature workers and retirees in recruitment efforts, and the Y also turns to its own retirees when jobs are available. In addition, this YMCA chapter works with a number of community employment groups and state agencies, including the Rochester Area Employee Network, to recruit and retain disabled workers who are age 50+.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities:  Full- and part-time employees of the YMCA of Greater Rochester who work at least one hour per week are able to participate in in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Employees who work at least 25 hours per week are eligible for tuition reimbursement. During the past 12 months, 75 percent of all employees participated in at least one of the Y's training opportunities, at an average of 40 hours per employee. Managers actively promote job-training opportunities via e-mail, company intranet, communiqués or memos, staff-meeting announcements, and bulletin-board postings.

The YMCA of Greater Rochester recognizes long-service employees by making announcements and giving parties and awards. As part of professional development, the YMCA offers employees the opportunity to participate in the Mentoring Across Generations program (also known as "Generation YMCA"), in which employees from the Silent Generation and the Boomer Generation are paired with employees from Generation X and Generation Y to exchange information and skills. Employees also have opportunities to gain new experience or skills by participating in temporary assignments, team projects, or a formal job-rotation program.

The YMCA of Greater Rochester has accommodated all workers, including those age 50+, with such assistance as TTY equipment, ergonomic assessments of workspaces, and handicapped accessible facilities. 

Benefits/Health: Employees of the YMCA of Greater Rochester who work full- or part-time for at least 20 hours per week can receive individual and family medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, long-term-care, and short- and long-term-disability coverage. To help cover out-of-pocket health-care costs, the organization offers employees a health savings account , an employee-funded health-savings account, and a health flexible-spending account (FSA). 

Retirees of the organization who are younger than age 65 receive most of the same benefits as current workers, with the exception of individual and family long-term-care coverage and the services of an employee assistance program. Retirees ages 65 and above have the same health benefits as current employees. New hires are eligible for all retiree health benefits upon retirement. Employees and retirees are also provided an annual fitness benefit that covers exercise classes and weight-loss programs. Retirees do not have to pay for it.

Benefits/Financial: The YMCA of Greater Rochester offers full- and part-time employees who work at least 20 hours per week a defined-contribution plan with an employer match and the additional option of a 457(b) plan. To encourage employees to participate in the contribution plan, the YMCA automatically enrolls all its employees. Employees at the Y can choose to invest in life-cycle funds based on their age and proximity to retirement, and employees age 50 and older are able to make “catch-up” contributions.

Members of the YMCA staff, representatives of the financial-services firm that administers the contribution plan, and external financial-planning experts provide financial-planning information or training to employees of the Y. Employees are allowed time off specifically to care for a child or family member through short- and long-term unpaid leave. This organization also provides employees wellness-related benefits, including flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, health and fitness facility discounts, physical-activity programs, weight-loss programs, and stress-management training. Over the last 12 months, 100 percent of employees utilized at least one of these wellness-related benefits.

The YMCA's "Walk the Talk" initiative is designed to encourage fitness every day. In the program, participating employees must walk at least 10,000 steps a day and engage in various fitness classes and nutrition efforts throughout the year to earn specific awards. This chapter of the YMCA offers full- and part-time employees onsite child care and grandchild care and provides referral services to help employees locate child- and eldercare. Full-time employees can take advantage of the on-site childcare for reduced rates.

Benefits/Alternative Work Arrangements:  Full- and part-time employees of the YMCA of Greater Rochester are able to work flexible and compressed work schedules. to job share, to telecommute, and to participate in the formal phased-retirement program. Full-time employees have the opportunity to move to part-time work on a temporary or permanent basis. Employees who take advantage of the phased-retirement program are eligible to collect the level of benefits they would receive if fully retired.

Opportunities for Retirees: The YMCA of Greater Rochester currently has 40 retirees and a staff member who is directly responsible for all relations with them. The organization maintains connections with retirees through regular communications, invitations to events, access to retirement-planning workshops and information, and formal acknowledgement on the occasion of their retirement. The organization also holds an annual retiree luncheon, and groups such as the Y EX-EMPS, the Retired Mens Club, and the Active Older Adult program keep YMCA retirees connected to the workplace. This YMCA maintains a roster of retirees who are available to work, and the company offer retirees temporary assignments, consulting work, telecommuting opportunities, full- and part-time work, and volunteer or donor opportunities. Retirees who are rehired by the YMCA can collect the same level of retirement benefits they would receive if they were fully retired.

Age of Workforce: Nineteen percent of the YMCA of Greater Rochester employees are 50+, with an average tenure of 10 years.

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