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Horsens Kommune

Winner: AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Industry: Municipal Government
Location: Horsens, Denmark
Website: horsenskom.dk

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

The Municipality of Horsens introduced a comprehensive initiative called “The Good Working Life” project, which was designed to motivate older teachers to continue working rather than enter retirement. Following implementation of this initiative, employment among teachers age 60+ doubled from 4.1 percent to 8.3 percent of teachers from 2000 to 2006. Special mentoring programs also resulted from the initiative, through which younger teachers gain from the experiences of their older counterparts. New teachers benefit from the knowledge transfer and from a work culture characterized by inter-generational teamwork.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: In 2000, the Municipality of Horsens initiated the project entitled “The Good Working Life” in cooperation with the National Association of Local Authorities in Denmark (Kommunernes Landsforening, KL), affiliated with the Confederation of Salaried Employees and Civil Servants in Denmark (Funktionærerne og Tjenestemændenes Fællesråd, FTF). The project aimed to motivate older teachers to remain employed instead of taking early retirement.

The project design was based on a study that showed that changing the work content, reducing working hours, and other special initiatives for older teachers would encourage more teachers to postpone their retirement. Among such initiatives are a seven-week refresher-training course to help teachers over the age of 50 combine theory with their experiences and learn more about new academic trends and research in their area of work, in hopes that those teachers will be more committed to their work. During the course, teachers are relieved from their normal teaching duties while receiving their usual pay during the seven weeks of training.

To relieve stress and burn-out that was often resulting from managing children with behavioral problems, many teachers are sent on a two-week training course every year where they are educated and guided in how to handle children who have difficulties adjusting to their new environment and those with behavioral problems.

Flexible Work Arrangements: As in most other Danish municipalities, schools in the Municipality of Horsens have found it difficult to recruit new teachers to replace the great numbers of those retiring or leaving the job. During the last six years, the municipality has worked intensively to improve the working environment for teachers.

Some of the teachers who suffer from a chronic disease have been assigned light duties in a ‘flex job’ arrangement in line with social security legislation. Teachers in flex jobs receive the same wage as they did previous to their illness, but this salary partly comprises a wage supplement from the state, which can be up to two-thirds of the full amount. This arrangement means that schools can afford to retain teachers with a reduced work capacity in employment.

As part of the collective agreement with the sectoral trade union, a special allowance is awarded to teachers aged 62 years who remain at work until the end of the school year. Furthermore, working hours are reduced by 175 hours a year among teachers above the age of 60 years. However, teachers do not receive a wage cut as a result of the reduced working hours.

Diversity Promotion: Based on results from a survey conducted to measure teachers’ attitudes towards work environment and future retirement, the school began offering older teachers special appraisal interviews with the management of their school. The purpose of the interview is not to plan a worker’s future retirement but to discuss the future career plan of the older teacher and to clarify if the teacher wants to make any changes to their work content or working hours. Through this interview process, the management hopes to clarify that it wants older employees to remain at work and not to retire just because they have reached a certain age.

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