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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Mercy Health System

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Hospitals/Health care
Location: Janesville, Wis.
2008 Rank: 17

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

Mercy Health System promotes its Work-to-Retire program, which offers employees age 50+ alternative work options. Employees can choose from working reduced hours, serving in a pool, or telecommuting. Workers age 55+ can also work seasonally for 1,000 hours a year. Each option provides employees full-year, part-time benefits. The Mercy Retiree Association offers health screenings and health-related programs, volunteer opportunities, social programming, mentoring opportunities, and financial-planning seminars. Long-term employees receive discounts on their health insurance premiums.  

Additional Policies and Practices:

Recruiting: Mercy uses e-cards and direct-mail campaigns to target mature workers and retired job-seekers. In addition, the Mercy Retiree Association offers retirees the opportunity to advise and support current and potential employees.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Mercy offers the following learning and development programs to full- and part-time employees: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, and the Mercy Learning Center (a computer-based learning management system). Eligibility for tuition reimbursement and certification requires working at least 20 hours per week. In the past 12 months, 100 percent of Mercy employees participated in at least one of its training opportunities, with an average of 25 hours spent in training.

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

In response to employee requests, the organization has made the following improvements to its benefits: increasing the Stay Healthy insurance benefit; increasing tuition reimbursement; enhancing the Mercy Childcare program; starting a Women’s Affinity Group; introducing the Mercy Learning Center; adding optional indemnity and health-protection plans; offering an online health-risk assessment; providing long-term care insurance, short-term disability insurance, and dental benefits; and increasing time-off accrual.

Employees gain experience by completing temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. Workers also have access to formal job-rotation programs.

Each year, Mercy’s Occupational Therapy Department performs more than 280 ergonomic evaluations on its workstations.

Benefits/Health: Employees working at least 20 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-term disability. Long-term disability is offered exclusively to those working at least 36 hours per week.

Health benefits for retirees under age 65 and 65+ include individual and spousal medical and drug coverage, dental insurance, long-term care insurance, and an employee assistance program. New hires age 65+ are eligible for all the benefits upon retirement.

Retirees receive the following additional health benefits: discounts to Mercy Wellness Centers, discounts on over-the-counter pharmacy items at Mercy retail pharmacies and Mercy Health Mall, and discounted health services at Mercy. Mercy offers flexible-spending accounts to employees to help meet out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: For full- and part-time employees, Mercy provides a 403(b) retirement savings plan with an employer match and a cash-balance plan. Employees age 50+ can make catch-up contributions to their 403(b) plans, and the plan has open enrollment.

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