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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2009, 2008
Industry: Insurance
Location: Newark, N.J.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is committed to the health and wellness of its employees. The company is in its second year of the "Journey to Health" program, which is a five-year health-and-productivity initiative coupled with classes and activities to help employees reach and maintain healthy-living habits.

Twenty-four percent of Horizon Blue's employees are age 50+.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Horizon Blue offers the following learning and development opportunities to all employees: in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Additionally, employees working at least 15 hours per week can receive tuition reimbursement. In 2008, 100 percent of Horizon Blue employees participated in at least one of the company’s learning and development opportunities, so each employee had an average 30 hours of instruction.

The company celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards.

Horizon Blue employees can augment their skills by working on temporary job assignments in other departments and on team projects and by participating in cross-divisional task forces.

Horizon Blue makes every effort to accommodate workers with disabilities. One such worker suffers from multiple sclerosis. When work became too cumbersome for the employee, managers reallocated the department's workload without impact to the employee's salary or position.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time Horizon Blue employees working at least 20 hours per week are eligible for the following individual and family benefits: medical, prescription-drug, dental, vision, long-term-care, and short- and long-term disability coverage.

Retirees under and above age 65 are eligible for individual and spousal medical and prescription-drug coverage and retiree life insurance. Upon retirement, new hires are eligible for all the retiree health benefits. Horizon Blue supports multiple accounts to help cover out-of-pocket medical expenses, including health reimbursement accounts (HRA), health savings accounts (HSA), and health flexible spending accounts (FSA).

Benefits/Financial: Full- and part-time employees at Horizon Blue are automatically enrolled in a 401(k) plan with an employer match and a cash-balance plan. All employees can choose to invest in life-cycle funds. Retirement-planning experts from the firm that administers the 401(k) are available to offer Horizon Blue employees retirement-planning advice and information.

The company also offers unpaid leave to caregivers so that they can attend to their responsibilities. On-site child and grandchild care, referral services to help employees with child  and eldercare, and backup care for children, grandchildren, and elders—all are available to workers at Horizon Blue.

Among the wellness benefits the company offers its full- and part-time employees are flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, discounts to local health clubs, weight-loss programs, and stress-management training. Sixty-three percent of employees have used at least one of Horizon Blue's wellness benefits during the past 12 months.

Benefits/Alternative-Work Arrangements: Full- and part-time employees can take advantage of Horizon Blue’s alternative-work arrangements, which include flextime, compressed-work schedules, job sharing, telecommuting, and formal phased-retirement program.

The phased-retirement program allows employees to move progressively from full-time work to retirement. The program is personalized for each employee, and for that reason, there are no set rules or schedules. Customization allows the company to maximize the program's effectiveness for itself and each employee.

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