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National Institutes of Health

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Industry: Federal Government
Location: Bethesda, Md.
2008 Rank: 11

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Senior Leadership Program provides older NIH employees the opportunity of working with a select group of peers and scholar-practitioners to improve leadership skills.

Retirees are able to use the on-site workout facilities and to maintain memberships in the various activity clubs, including photography, aikido, badminton, hiking, bicycling, sailing, and the NIH philharmonic.Forty-two percent of NIH’s employees are age 50+.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: NIH offers the following learning and development programs to full- and part-time employees: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, commercial training, student-loan repayment program, and professional conferences. During the past 12 months, 100 percent of NIH employees participated in at least one of its training opportunities.

In addition, employees develop Individual Development Plans that identify training courses, educational opportunities, and other assignments, such as job rotations or job-shadowing, to enhance their professional development and education.

NIH celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements and awards.

The Institutes have made enhancements to benefits following employee requests, including: adding high-deductible insurance plans and strengthening support for tele-work and flexible-work schedules—applying directly to NIH’s mature employees.

Employees gain new experiences and develop new skills by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. Workers also have access to formal job-rotation programs.

NIH offered special accommodations for one blind employee by providing space for her guide dog in her office and added computer modifications for her use. Her coworkers received on-site training on disability etiquette, specifically addressing how to work with a blind individual who is assisted by a guide dog.

Benefits/Health: Employees (with no minimum, per-week hourly requirement for working) receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, individual and family long-term care insurance, and short- and long-term disability.

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

NIH offers flexible-spending accounts and health-savings accounts to help employees  with out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: NIH offers a 403(b) retirement savings plan with an employer match and a defined-benefit plan to its full- and part-time employees. Employees may invest in lifecycle funds, and employees age 50+ can make catch-up contributions to their 403(b) plans. Employees receive financial-planning information from staff members, from the firm that administers their 403(b) plan, and from external experts not associated with their retirement plan.

Pre-retirement classes are offered for employees within five years of retirement.

Employees are offered paid time off specifically designated for caregiving, short-term time off without pay, and long-term leaves of absence without pay, for caregiving.

In addition, NIH has an Emergency Bank to cover employees affected by natural disasters.

Full- and part-time employees receive the following wellness programs: flu shots, health screenings, smoking-cessation programs, health club discounts, physical activity and exercise programs, weight loss programs, stress-management training.

Employees can also join numerous activity clubs, such as photography, aikido, badminton, hiking, bicycling, sailing, and the NIH philharmonic.

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