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Harvard University

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Industry: Education- Post Secondary
Location: Cambridge, Mass.
2008 Rank: 34

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

The Harvard University Retirees Association provides retirees ongoing intellectual growth, social interaction, and service to the university. After 15 years of service, Harvard employees receive the following additional benefits: eligibility to take one Harvard course free of charge, 12 half-price admission vouchers to Loeb Theatre performances, free membership in the Harvard Faculty Club, and free membership at the athletic facilities. Thirty percent of Harvard’s employees are age 50+, and the average tenure of employees age 50+ is 15.8 years.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Recruiting: Harvard uses placement agencies for older job-seekers to target mature workers and retirees. In addition, the university works with Operation A.B.L.E., which provides training and job-placement assistance to workers age 45+. Harvard also reaches out to veterans by meeting with local veterans’ representatives at local and state employment agencies.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: To its full- and part-time employees, Harvard offers the following learning and development programs: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Tuition reimbursement is offered to employees working at least 17 hours per week. During the past 12 months, 27 percent of Harvard employees participated in at least one of the training opportunities.

The university also encourages and often pays for employee participation in conferences, seminars, and workshops outside of the university.

Harvard celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, and awards.

Responding to employee requests, the following benefits and improvements have been implemented: executive coaching available for senior leaders; improving internal communication by having a designated point person; developing new approach for performance management for senior leaders; periodically providing current state analysis of external pay competitiveness, and expanding Harvard Heroes (the employee-recognition program).

Employees develop new skills by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. Harvard provides ergonomic and physical redesign of workstations, such as making monitor adjustments to allow natural light without creating computer glare. The university also provides equipment, such as adjustable chairs, larger computer monitors, and ergonomic keyboards.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees working at least 17 hours a week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription-drug coverage, individual and family dental insurance, individual and family long-term care insurance, and short- and long-term disability.

Health benefits for retirees under 65 and 65+ include individual and spousal medical and drug coverage, individual and spousal dental coverage, individual and spousal long-term care insurance, employee-assistance services, and individual and spousal life insurance or other death-benefit coverage. New hires are eligible for all these benefits upon retirement.

Harvard offers employees flexible spending accounts to help cover out-of-pocket health care costs. In addition, lower-paid employees benefit from a co-pay reimbursement plan (the university pays these expenses after a deductible is met).

Benefits/Financial: Harvard offers a 403(b) plan and a cash-balance plan to its full- and part-time employees. Employees may invest in lifecycle funds, and those age 50+ can make catch-up contributions. Employees receive financial planning information from the firm that administers their 403(b) plan and from external experts not associated with the 403(b) plan.

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