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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
Industry: Printing/Publishing
Location: Upper Saddle River, N.J.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This is the second consecutive year that Pearson has appeared on AARP’s list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. Pearson uses placement agencies for older job seekers to target and recruit mature workers. The company offers employees and retirees access to long-term care coverage. Pearson also has a special program called "Prepare to Care," which helps employees find information and resources from a certified geriatric-care manager with education or expertise in gerontology, nursing, social work, and counseling. More than one-fourth (29 percent) of the workforce at Pearson is age 50+, with an average tenure of 11 years.

Recruiting: Pearson targets and recruits mature workers or retirees by calling on placement agencies for older job seekers. The company also uses newspaper classified ads, the Internet, local employment agencies, and employee referrals to find older applicants.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Full- and part-time employees at Pearson who work 21 or more hours per week are eligible for tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, and certification training. All employees have access to online training and compliance training. In 2008, 90 percent of the company's employees participated in at least of one its training opportunities, so each employee had an average six hours of instruction.

Pearson celebrates its employees' long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, awards, and gifts.

The company finds innovative ideas by giving an employee-opinion survey, to which it responds by changing policies and physical work spaces. For instance, Pearson has improved and defined its tele-work programs, implemented a child- and adult-day care program, and expanded its geriatric-care program, "Prepare to Care."

Employees can gain new experiences and new skills at Pearson through temporary job assignments, team projects, and formal job rotation. The company has accommodated employees who have needed flexible work options.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees who work 21 hours or more per week are eligible for individual and family medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, long-term-care, and short-term disability coverage. Employees who work 35 hours or more are eligible for long-term disability coverage. Pearson offers employees health flexible spending accounts (FSA) to help cover out-of-pocket health care expenses. Pearson offers retirees below and above age 65 individual and spousal medical, prescription-drug, long-term-care, and individual life insurance.

Benefits/Financial: Pearson offers full- and part-time employees who work 21 hours or more per week an employer-matched 401(k) plan and a stock option or profit-sharing plan. The company automatically enrolls all employees, including new hires, in the plan. Employees can choose to invest in life-cycle funds based on their ages and proximity to retirement, and those age 50+ can make catch-up contributions. There is also a discretionary, annual company contribution. Some Pearson employees, representatives of the financial services firm that administers the defined-contribution plan, and other experts provide employees information and training in financial planning. The company just introduced a series called the "Personal Finance Education Series" to help employees learn more about investing and managing personal finances.

Pearson offers employees paid and unpaid time off to care for children or family members. Pearson’s Parental and 'Serious Illness in the Family' Leave provides employees two weeks' paid time off.

Full- and part-time employees can take advantage of such wellness benefits as flu shots, health screenings, discounts to local health clubs, weight-loss programs, stress-management training, and a National Employee Health and Fitness Day. During the past 12 months, 49 percent of employees utilized at least one of the company's wellness benefits.

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