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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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2009 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

West Virginia University Hospitals

Winning Years: 2009, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Hospitals/Health Care
Location: Morgantown, W.Va.
URL: www.wvuh.com

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

West Virginia University Hospitals offers its employees a number of benefits and programs that benefit mature workers. Programs such as free nursing recertification classes, the Older Workers Learning program, and a formal phased-retirement program make the University Hospitals an attractive and flexible employer.

The phased-retirement program allows employees to take advantage of a variety of different scheduling options, including eight-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts, weekends only, or per diem work. In appropriate areas, participants can also opt for telecommuting or job sharing. Employees participating in the phased-retirement program can maintain their previous benefits as long as they work a minimum of 20 hours per week. Twenty-three percent of employees are age 50+, with an average tenure of 12.5 years.

Recruiting: West Virginia University Hospitals uses free nursing-refresher courses and assistance in reactivating state RN licenses as tools to attract mature workers back into the hospital system.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Full- and part-time employees are eligible for the following training and development opportunities: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Tuition reimbursement is only available to employees working at least 20 hours per week. (All the other development opportunities are available regardless of the number of hours worked per week.) In 2008, 100 percent of employees took part in a development opportunity, with the average staff member taking part in six hours of training.

The hospital system recognizes employees' long-service anniversaries with announcements, awards, parties, longevity payments, and during the Annual Service Awards Banquet.

Examples of improvements the hospital system made after assessing the results of its employee opinion survey include adding of a vision plan, a loan-forgiveness program, a long-term-care insurance plan, an AFLAC cancer income-protection plan, a dental insurance plan, reimbursement accounts for health-care expenses, a mail-order prescription service, increased life insurance for dependents, and universal life insurance.

To help employees gain experience and on-the-job skills, they can work on team projects, in interim placements, and temporary assignments in other departments.

The hospital system is committed to maintaining an accommodating workplace by providing ergonomic assessments, flexible schedules, and worksite redesigns.  

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week are eligible for individual and family medical, prescription-drug, dental, vision, and short-term-disability coverage. Employees working at least 32 hours per week are also eligible for long-term-disability coverage.

Benefits/Financial: Full- and part-time employees are eligible for an employer-matched 403(b) defined-contribution plan. In order to encourage employees to participate, the hospital system invites all staff to invest in life-cycle funds and allows employees age 50+ to make catch-up contributions. In-house staff and seminars, representatives of the financial-services firm that manages the retirement plans, and external financial-planning experts offer retirement-planning information to employees of the hospital system.

For employees with caregiving responsibilities, WVUH offers unpaid short- and long-term leave. Staff can also take advantage of on-site childcare and referral services for child- and eldercare.

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