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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Domestic & General Services Limited

Winner: 2009 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Winning Years: 2008, 2009
Location: Nottingham, England, United Kingdom
Industry: Insurance
Website: domgen.com

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies
 
Domestic & General Services seeks to attract and retain older workers for their experience, loyalty, and reliability by implementing a number of age-positive recruitment strategies. The company designed materials for recruitment and assessment to resonate with various generations. To avoid age bias, Domestic & General uses telephone interviews in the first stage of the hiring process. Employees themselves can become Age Positive Ambassadors, some of whom represent the company at recruitment fairs.
 
Additional Policies and Practices

Lifelong Learning and Training: When hiring older workers, the company tailors its inductions, or orientations, by giving additional support in such areas as IT skills. Following staff-induction training, new recruits usually progress to a “graduation bay,” and once the employee progresses to a competent level, the company offers him or her a varied program of skills training, including sales, communication, and customer-service skills.
 
The company’s latest initiative, Route to Success, maps out a path for career progression. Workshops aligned with the program provide opportunities for employees to develop the skills, knowledge, and behaviors necessary to progress to the next steps of their careers.
 
Flexible Work Arrangements: In 2002—ahead of legislative changes enforcing this requirement—Domestic & General Services introduced the opportunity for all employees to request flexible schedules. Employees can opt to continue working beyond the state retirement age and receive annual health checks, or checkups, which the company funds. Any employee wishing to work beyond the state retirement age can also request flexible working.
 
In addition, the company does not have a default retirement age. However, for people who wish to retire, Domestic & General Services offers an enhanced company pension.
 
Health Promotion and Protection: Domestic & General Services’ health strategy focuses on wellness rather than sickness. The latest initiative, Wellness Wednesdays, promotes healthy eating, cholesterol, and general health awareness. The company offers discounted gym memberships and works with organizations such as New Leaf to promote healthier lifestyles. Domestic & General also organizes sports-fun days, open to all staff.
 
Diversity Promotion: The company encourages a blend of ages in all its work teams and also enlists local and community organizations to draw applications from workers who have experienced forced career change, such as redundancies (or layoffs).

A recent survey of mature workers indicated that they find working with younger colleagues enjoyable. They report that it “keeps them young.” Based on this feedback, Domestic & General successfully recruited a group of recent graduates in 2008. This enabled the younger workers to learn from the wealth of experience the mature workers had to offer.

To promote the importance of age-positive policies, the company encourages employees to serve as Age Positive Ambassadors, who attend recruitment fairs and assist in the recruitment process.
 
Recruitment: The company uses a range of strategies to ensure its recruitment practices are age-positive, including the following: designing recruitment and assessment materials which are targeted at a mature audience; asking Age Positive Ambassadors to appear at recruitment fairs; briefing temp agencies to meet and beat a 10-percent target rate for mature workers; and using telephone interviews at the first stage of selection to avoid age bias. In addition, the company asks older workers to host selection days, and it offers training in confidence-building to mature employees before they handle professional calls.

In 2008, Domestic & General hosted a recruitment fair that was linked to a national charity to target older job seekers. For 2009, the company aims to further increase its mature workforce by recruiting a dedicated “mature team.”

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