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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Centegra Health System

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004
Industry: Hospitals/Health care
Location: Crystal Lake, Ill.
Website: www.centegra.org
2008 Rank: 28

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies
 
Centegra Health System’s Alumni Nurse Program hires retired nurses to mentor younger nurses and to fill key patient-care needs. The company’s phased-retirement program offers flexible-scheduling options, such as part-time work, compressed work weeks, a registry associate program, a weekender program, job-sharing, summers off, and long-distance contract work.
 
Additional Policies and Practices:
 
Recruiting: Centegra uses placement agencies for older job-seekers to target mature workers and retirees. The health system recruits recent retirees from the military and police professions for security positions.
 
Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Centegra offers the following learning and development programs to full- and part-time employees: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, Human Dynamics diversity courses, nursing symposiums, and leadership development. Centegra offers tuition reimbursement exclusively to those working at least eight hours per week. In the past 12 months, 93 percent of Centegra employees participated in at least one of its training opportunities with an average of 47 hours spent in training.
 
The health system celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards. Centegra has made benefit enhancements to meet employee requests, including a loan-forgiveness program; improvements to the accrued time-off benefit; enhanced medical and dental benefits; increased adoption-related expenses; added long-term care insurance; added portable, supplemental insurance; mortgage services; concierge services; and financial-planning assistance.
 
Employees gain experience and develop new skills by job shadowing, by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects, and also via access to formal job-rotation programs. Employees with unique needs receive job reassignments and JAWS (assistive computer software that enables both speech synthesizers and magnification of documents).

Benefits/Health: Employees working at least eight hours a week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription-drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, and short-term disability. Long-term disability is offered exclusively to those working at least 36 hours per week. Centegra also offers flexible-spending accounts to employees to help them with out-of-pocket health care costs.
 
Benefits/Financial: Centegra offers a 401(k) retirement savings plan, with an employer match, to its full- and part-time employees. Employees may invest in lifecycle funds and age-50+ employees can make catch-up contributions. Employees receive financial-planning information from staff members, from the firm that administers their retirement plan, and from external experts not associated with their retirement plan.
 
Employees are offered short-term time off without pay for caregiving. In addition, the health system has a Caring Friends Program, which allows associates to donate their accrued time off to other associates or to the accrued-time-off bank. The following dependent-care benefits are offered to full- and part-time employees: on-site and backup care for children and grandchildren and for eldercare, and referral services to assist with daycare for children and grandchildren.
 
Full- and part-time employees are offered the following wellness programs: flu shots, health screenings, health-risk appraisals, smoking-cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and exercise programs, weight-loss programs, and stress management training. Fifty-two percent of employees have used at least one of the wellness benefits during the past 12 months. Centegra’s Wellness for Life Program is an internal health-promotion program that gives employees information on health-related topics, identifies individual health concerns, and offers resources on how to live healthier lifestyles.

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