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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Best Employers

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning year: 2008
Industry: Insurance
Location: Durham, N.C.
Website: www.bcbsnc.com
2008 Rank: 23

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBS) employees and retirees can participate in the Member Health Partnership, which is a free self-management program that provides educational materials and self-help tools to manage their health. Although BCBS does not have a formal phased retirement program, employees interested in retiring can either shift their job roles or decrease their scheduled hours.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Recruiting: BCBS uses recruiting Websites such as Simplyhired50+.com, Corporategray.com, and Retirement Jobs.com, to target mature workers and retirees.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: BCBS offers the following learning and development programs to its full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, and on-site undergraduate and graduate degrees from Blue University and other local colleges and universities. During the past 12 months, 100 percent of BCBS employees participated in at least one of its training opportunities, with an average of 23 hours spent in training.

In addition, BCBS offers Blue XChange, an in-house mentoring program. BCBS celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements and parties.

In response to employee feedback, the company began offering the following additional benefits: a redesigned pension plan, including a retirement-planning tool and a 401(k) redesign with a company match, added health–screening, and risk assessments with individual reporting, telecommuting for full- and part-time employees, an on-site, backup child-care center, and an expanded on-site health clinic to provide screenings, urgent care, and health coaching.

Employees gain new experiences and develop new skills by working on temporary assignments in other departments, on team projects, by job shadowing, and via access to formal job-rotation programs.

Examples of how BCBS accommodates employees with special needs include the following: providing a Tablet PC and special software for an employee with attention deficit disorder, providing a sit-to-stand work station for an employee with a back condition, and assigning closer parking spaces for those in need.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees working 20+ hours per week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription-drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, and short- and long-term disability.

Retirees under age 65 and 65+ receive individual and spousal medical and prescription-drug coverage, individual and spousal vision and dental coverage, and individual life insurance or other death-benefit coverage. New hires are eligible for all of the above benefits upon retirement except the individual life insurance. The company offers employees flexible-spending and an health-savings accounts to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: BCBS offers a 401(k) plan with an employer match to its full- and part-time employees working 20 or more hours weekly. All new hires are automatically enrolled in the plan, employees may invest in lifecycle funds, and employees 50+ can make catch-up contributions. Employees receive financial-planning information from the firm that administers their 401(k) plan and from external financial-planning experts.

The company offers paid time off specifically designated for caregiving, short-term time off without pay, and long-term leaves of absence without pay, to allow for caregiving.

The following wellness programs are offered to full- and part-time employees: flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and exercise programs, weight loss programs, stress-management training, and the services of an on-site nurse practitioner. One hundred percent of BCBS employees have used at least one of its wellness benefits during the past 12 months.

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