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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006
Industry: Insurance
Location: Sheboygan, Wisc.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

ACUITY is committed to helping employees have a positive work-life balance. The company has taken opinion surveys  of its employees, and the results have led to company changes, including the construction of an on-site exercise facility and enhanced retirement training. Acuity has also worked diligently to maintain a strong benefits package that includes perks such as unlimited, paid sick leave for employees unable to work because of an injury or illness. This effort has been applied to traditional health benefits, as Acuity has gone eight years without raising health-care premiums.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Acuity offers full- and part-time employees working at least 16 hours a week the following learning and development opportunities: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, and leadership training. In 2008, 85 percent of Acuity employees participated in at least one learning and development opportunity, averaging 75 hours of instruction per employee.

The company recognizes long-serving workers with anniversaries celebrations, including announcements, parties, and awards. As a result of employee-opinion surveys, Acuity has instituted an annual holiday party, opened an on-site bank branch, maintained the cost of health-care premiums, and created enhanced retirement programs and investment-education efforts.

Opportunities to gain new skills exist in the form of temporary assignments in other departments, team projects, access to a formal job-rotation program, and on-site leadership-development courses. Acuity offers employees with disabilities such accommodations as proper chairs and work stations, sign-language interpreters, and unlimited, paid sick leave.

Benefits/Health: Full-time employees are offered the following health benefits: individual and family medical and prescription-drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, and short- and long-term disability coverage. Acuity offers a health flexible spending account to help reduce out-of-pocket medical expenses.  

Benefits/Financial: Acuity employees who work at least 16 hours per week are eligible for a 401(k) retirement plan with an employer match. All employees are automatically enrolled in the plan and may choose to invest in life-cycle funds. Employees who are age 50+ can make catch-up contributions.

Acuity staff members, advisers from the financial-services firm that administers the 401(k) plan, and external financial-planning experts inform and educate employees about the company’s retirement plan.

Employees with caregiving responsibilities are afforded paid time off that is specifically designated for caregiving and unpaid short- and long-term leave. Wellness benefits offered to full- and part-time employees include flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, discounts at local health clubs, physical-activity programs, weight-loss programs, stress-management training, and massage therapy. Seventy-seven percent of Acuity employees have taken advantage of at least one wellness program during the past 12 months. The company provides referral services to employees who need help with  care for children or grandchildren and eldercare. 

Benefits and Alternative-Work Arrangements: Acuity offers alternative work arrangements, such as flextime, compressed work schedules, job-sharing, and telecommuting. Employees may move to part-time work on a temporary or permanent basis.

Opportunities for Retirees: A dedicated staff member is directly responsible for retiree relations. The company stays connected with its 80 retirees through regular communications, by inviting retirees to organization events and the holiday party, by providing retirees with ongoing access to retirement planning, by formally acknowledging employees when they retire, and by sending retirees the monthly newsletter. Further, retirees can take temporary assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting, full- or part-time work, and assist with special events and employee activities at Acuity. 

Age of the Workforce: Twenty-eight percent of Acuity employees are ages 50+, with an average tenure of 14.2 years with the company.


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