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Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc.

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Industry: Nonprofit
Location: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

This marks the first year that Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind appears on AARP's list of Best Employers for Workers Over 50. Forty-two percent of all workers at Winston-Salem are ages 50 and older. The company's full-time employees have access to individual long-term-care coverage. Forty-two percent of Winston-Salem’s employees are age 50+.

Recruiting: In an effort to target and recruit mature workers, Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind provides employees cash awards if they refer mature job seekers to the company and the company permanently hires the workers.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc., provides full- and part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week tuition reimbursement and in-house classroom training. Thirty percent of those employees who work 30 hours or more per week are eligible for on-line training, certification classes, and external job training. Forty percent of all employees participated in at least one of the company's training and development opportunities during the past 12 months, at an average of 40 hours of training per employee.

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc., celebrates employees' long-service anniversaries through announcements, parties, awards, and cash awards that increase for every five years of service.

The company has responded to employee feedback by improving the cafeteria menu and the building structure, by upgrading employee transportation assistance for the visually impaired, and by adding more clocks to moderate rush hours.

Employees have the opportunity to gain new experience and job skills through temporary assignments in other departments and by collaborating on team projects. Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc., has an upward-mobility program that allows employees to gain greater skills and knowledge to move up through the organization.

Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc., has accommodated employees with alternative-work arrangements, job redesign, and specialized office or workspace equipment.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week are eligible for individual and family medical and prescription-drug coverage and individual vision and short-term-disability coverage. Full-time employees who work at least 30 hours per week are also eligible for individual long-term-care insurance. To help employees with out-of-pocket health-care expenses, the company offers employees health flexible spending accounts (FSA) and no-interest loans for special conditions not covered by insurance.

Benefits/Financial: Full- and part-time employees are able to participate in a defined-contribution plan, a money-purchase defined-contribution plan, and a stock-option or profit- sharing plan. Employees age 50+ can make catch-up contributions to the retirement plans. Staff from the financial-services firm that administers the plan and external experts provide financial-planning information to the company's employees.

Employees can take unpaid time off to care for children or other family members. The company also offers employees several wellness benefits, including flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, a smoking-cessation program, and stress-management training. The organization also offers walking classes, a breast clinic, vision exam discounts, and free swimming classes at the YMCA. During the past 12 months, 50 percent of all employees have taken advantage of at least one of the company's wellness benefits. Winston-Salem Industries for the Blind, Inc. refers employees to the 125 Flexible Spending Aids Plan to help with the cost of child care.

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