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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Best Employers

BT Group plc

Winner: AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Winning Year: 2008
Industry: Communications
Location: London, United Kingdom
Website: btplc.com

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

BT offers a wide variety of flexible-work arrangements through its Achieving the Balance portfolio that have proven beneficial to older employees in making a transition from full-time employment to retirement. In addition, BT’s Career Life Planning Tool assists employees in developing their careers at every stage and has helped older employees adapt to life changes that may emerge during employment.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: BT Group has a Career Life Planning tool which covers every stage of an individual’s career with BT. This tool recognizes that employees’ career plans and lives outside work change over time and it helps individuals and line managers work together to understand how such changes can be planned for and appropriate development strategies created.

An example of how the tool can be used in practice is if an employee’s partner’s circumstances change, the tool can recognize that such a change may have an effect on the employee and offer suggestions for how the employee may wish to review their career plan to take account of such change. The Career Life Planning tool takes account of a wide variety of changes that may occur during an individual’s working life, such as having children or grandchildren, becoming a carer, or reentering further education.

Flexible Work Arrangements: BT offers a wide variety of flexible working arrangements to all its employees. The arrangements include part-time work options; term-time working; annualized hours; home working; job-sharing; nine-day fortnights; and compressed hours. BT’s own research shows that home workers have increased productivity on average by around 20 percent and that they are 7 percent happier at work.

BT’s flexible and agile working policies and practices are packaged within a program portfolio titled Achieving the Balance. This portfolio outlines the different options that are available to help people find the most suitable working arrangements for their individual circumstances. A component of this portfolio includes options for transition from full-time employment to retirement.

The Achieving the Balance portfolio includes several opportunities that, although available to everyone in BT, are particularly useful to older people. They include the following:

  • Wind Down – Giving employees more personal time
  • Step Down – Moving to roles with less responsibility and less stress
  • Time Out – Providing career breaks and sabbaticals for up to two years 
  • Helping Hands – Allowing secondments to a charity for up to two years 
  • Ease Down –Gradually reducing the level of responsibility while continuing to work for BT


BT had a normal retirement age of 60 until it was removed in 2006. The pensionable age still remains 60. Employees can continue working past 60, but can draw their pensions while continuing to work. They can also continue contributing and accruing additional pension funding, if they wish to do so.

Health Promotion and Protection: BT promotes physical and mental well-being through a framework of primary, secondary, and tertiary interventions. Primary includes engagement in health-promotion activities, such as Work Fit. Secondary provides early intervention when problems arise via services, such as employee counseling. Tertiary intervention is rehabilitation after illness, and/or taking advice from specialists.

The Work Fit program has focused on several different areas of health and well-being, which, although they affect all employees, affect people over 50 in increasing numbers. One example of the targeted approach of the Work Fit program was a campaign to address heart disease in older men. The program encouraged people to take their waist measurements and then, in collaboration with Mens Health, an external organization, helped them lose weight over a period of time.

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