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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Pinnacol Assurance

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Insurance
Location: Denver, Colo.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This year marks the fifth straight appearance for Pinnacol Assurance on AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. One-fourth of Pinnacol Assurance's employees are age 50 or older. The company offers all working employees individual and family long-term care coverage.

Since 2006, retirees have been able to join the company's new Alumni program, which helps them connect with former colleagues and keeps them informed about Pinnacol's events, news, and information. In 2008, Pinnacol began a quarterly newsletter for retirees. The company also offers retirees opportunities to return to the company for temporary assignments or part-time work. Employees at Pinnacol can retire as early as 50 years old.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: At Pinnacol Assurance, full- and part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week are eligible for tuition reimbursement. All workers can take advantage of in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. During the past 12 months, all employees at Pinnacol have participated in at least one of the company's training opportunities, and each employee averaged 46 hours of training in that time period. Pinnacol Assurance recently increased the tuition-reimbursement amount and started an on-site MBA program in which the company pays for specific books and tests required in certain on-site and off-site educational and certification programs.

Pinnacol Assurance has a mentoring program for new hires. And the company recognizes employees with long-service anniversaries in company announcements and with parties, gift points, and awards—particularly on every five-year anniversary of service. The company newsletter also features information about long-services employees. Another perk gives people who work with Pinnacol for 20 years or more a free, covered parking space.

The company takes employee-opinion surveys, and Pinnacol's management has used the feedback from those surveys to implement several workplace improvements, including providing an employer match to employees' 401(k) plans, increasing tuition reimbursement, offering on-site college courses, establishing on-site wellness programs and benefits, and building an environmentally focused company team.

Employees at Pinnacol Assurance can gain new experience and job skills through temporary assignments in other departments and by working on team projects. Pinnacol draws from an age-50+ worker pool for temporary assignments, because it values experienced employees. The company accommodates all employees through ergonomic evaluations of their workspaces, job restructuring or reassignment, and equipment or technology to make work more comfortable.

Benefits/Health: At Pinnacol Assurance, full- and part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week receive individual and family medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, and short-and long-term-disability coverage. All employees receive individual and family long-term-care insurance. To help with employees' out-of-pocket health-care costs, Pinnacol provides employees health flexible spending accounts (FSA). Retirees under and above age 65  receive the same benefits as working employees at Pinnacol, except that they are not eligible for individual and spousal long-term-care insurance.

Benefits/Financial: Pinnacol Assurance offers all full- and part-time employees the opportunity to participate in a defined-benefit and an employer-matched 401(k) plan. The company also offers a 457 plan. Staff from the financial-services firm that administers the financial plan, along with external experts, provide financial-planning information and training to the employees. In 2008, employees could take advantage of seminars on managing their budgets, debt and good credit, tax planning, identity theft, home ownership, choosing a financial planner, and health in retirement.

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