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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Oklahoma City University

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Industry: Education – Post-Secondary
Location: Oklahoma City

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This year, Oklahoma City University marks its first appearance on AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50 in 2009. As a university and workplace, the campus leadership is sensitive and responsive to employee feedback. Suggestions from employees have prompted the school to introduce a temporary four-day workweek, a formal wellness plan, a smoke-free-campus policy, smoking-cessation programs, and expanded tuition benefits. Well over half of the university's faculty members (57 percent) are age 50+.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: Oklahoma City University provides employees working at least 10 hours per week the following learning and development opportunities: in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, and 100 percent OCU tuition reimbursement for themselves and their dependents. In 2008, 100 percent of employees at the university used at least one of the training opportunities, so that each employee received an average 24 hours of instruction.

The university celebrates employees' long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards. Employee-opinion surveys have persuaded campus leadership to institute a formal wellness plan, a tobacco-free workplace, coverage of smoking-cessation products, pharmacy discounts, expanded tuition benefits, and four-day workweeks during the summertime.

Employees can expand their job skills by participating in team projects. The university is proactive in providing accommodations for employees with diverse needs. The university has provided recliners, relocated classrooms, replaced elements of the teaching load with other duties, provided on-campus transportation, provided ergonomic materials and equipment, and allowed employees to work remotely.

Benefits/Health: Full-time employees working at least 32 hours per week are eligible for the following individual and family benefits: medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, and short- and long-term-disability coverage.

Retirees under age 65 are eligible for individual and spousal medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, long-term-care, and life insurance, and may use the services of the employee assistance program (EAP). Upon retirement, new hires under age 65 are eligible for retiree and spousal medical, prescription-drug, vision, and dental insurance.

Retirees age 65+ are eligible for individual and spousal medical, prescription-drug, and life-insurance coverage. Upon retirement, all new hires age 65+ receive the same age-65+ retiree benefits. Additionally, the university offers health flexible spending accounts (FSA) to help employees cover out-of-pocket medical expenses.

Benefits/Financial: Full-time employees working 32 hours per week or more can participate in the university's 403(b) retirement plan with an employer match. The university encourages employees to participate by giving them the option to invest in life-cycle funds and allowing employees age 50+ to make catch-up contributions. Employees are immediately eligible for enrollment and matching funds. Members of the university staff and representatives of the financial services firm that administers the 403(b) plan provide university employees information and training on retirement planning.

Employees who have to attend to caregiving responsibilities and referral services can take unpaid leave. They can do the same for both child- and eldercare. Eighty-seven percent of employees have used at least one of the following wellness benefits that the university provided during the past year: flu shots, health screenings, smoking-cessation programs, discounts to local health clubs, physical-activity programs, weight-loss programs, stress-management training, and free mammograms.

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