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National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning year: 2008
Industry: Not for Profit-Other
Location: Arlington, Va.
2008 Rank: 27

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) flexible work options appeal to employees, and approximately 80 percent of the company’s employees choose their preferred work schedules. The company’s defined-benefit pension includes a phased-retirement option that allows employees to continue working past normal retirement age. Thirty-six percent of NRECA employees are age 50+.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours per week are offered the following learning and development programs: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. During the past 12 months, 100 percent of NRECA employees have participated in at least one of the training opportunities, with an average of 60 hours spent in training.

The company celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, gifts, and awards. In addition, retiring employees receive a special reception in which the highlights of their careers are celebrated.

NRECA has made the following benefit enhancements based on employee feedback: implemented a “volunteer paid-time-off” policy to reward employees with PTO for volunteering with nonprofit organizations; expanded the telecommuting policy to allow employees to work from home a few days each week and offered some employees work-from-home options, and increased commuter-assistance benefits.

Employees have the opportunity to work on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects.

The organization makes accommodations employees in need, including: allowing a legally blind employee the option of bringing his seeing-eye dog to work and providing him with special computer software; offering an autistic employee a position that can accommodate both his needs and NRECA’s; and making ergonomic assessments for employees and changing work-station arrangements if necessary.

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees (working at least 20 hours per week) receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription-drug coverage, individual and family vision and dental insurance, and short- and long-term disability.

Health benefits for retirees under age 65 and 65+ include individual and spousal medical and drug coverage, individual and spousal vision and dental insurance, and individual life insurance or other death-benefit coverage. New hires are eligible for the above benefits upon retirement. In addition, NRECA provides an allowance for retiree benefit premiums for health insurance coverage.

NRECA offers employees a flexible-spending account, with employer-matched contributions of up to $500, to assist in covering out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: NRECA offers a 401(k) plan with an employer match and a defined-benefit plan to its full- and part-time employees. All new hires are automatically enrolled in the plan, employees may choose to invest in lifecycle funds, and those age 50+ can make catch-up contributions to their 401(k) plan. Employees receive financial-planning information from staff members within NRECA’s Personal Investments Retirement Consulting Department, which offers free financial planning from certified professionals.

NRECA offers paid time off designated for caregiving, short-term time off without pay, and long-term leaves of absence without pay to allow for caregiving. The company provides an Extended Illness Leave for personal care needs or for caring for an immediate family member.

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