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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Virginia Commonwealth University

Winner: 2008 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50

Winning Years: 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005
Industry: Education – Post-Secondary
2008 Rank: 24

Highlights of 2008 Winning Strategies

Virginia Commonwealth University eligible faculty can make the transition into retirement by contracting for a retirement date, working a reduced workload until retirement, and maintaining full benefits. The university’s Human Resources Retiree Roster, and individual departments, contact retired faculty and staff to fill short-term and temporary vacancies. Thirty-seven percent of VCU employees are age 50+.

Additional Policies and Practices:

Recruiting: VCU uses placement agencies for older job-seekers to target mature workers and retirees.

Workplace Culture/Continued Opportunities: Full- and part-time employees at VCU can participate in the following learning and development programs: in-house classroom training, online training, and certification classes. Tuition reimbursement is offered to full-time employees working 40 hours a week. During the past 12 months, 40 percent of VCU employees participated in at least one of its training opportunities, with an average of 150 hours spent in training.

VCU celebrates long-service anniversaries with announcements, parties, awards, and gifts. Based on employee feedback, VCU developed a specialized retirement-education series that helps employees with their financial goals and issues.

In addition, VCU’s Department of Gerontology and Center on Aging have helped establish programs to assist the university’s aging workforce and employee caregivers. VCU employees are eligible for an on-site adult-day program for their dependents.

Employees have opportunities to gain experience by working on temporary assignments in other departments and on team projects. VCU accommodates employees by providing special equipment, such as a computer keyguard to assist with cerebral palsy, adjustable tables for those in wheelchairs, and joysticks for the computer that make navigation easier than it would be with a standard mouse.  

Benefits/Health: Full- and part-time employees working at least 20 hours a week receive individual and family medical coverage, individual and family prescription-drug 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 65 and 65+ include individual and spousal medical and drug 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 these benefits upon retirement. In addition, the university offers retirees a health insurance credit based on years of service to help pay their premiums. VCU also provides flexible spending accounts and an health savings accounts to help cover out-of-pocket health care costs.

Benefits/Financial: VCU offers a 403(b) with an employer match, a defined-benefit plan, and a money-purchase defined contribution plan to its full- and part-time employees. All new hires are automatically enrolled in the 403(b) plan. Employees may invest in lifecycle funds, and age 50+ employees  can make catch-up contributions. Employees receive financial-planning information from staff members—with retirement and investment education offered individually and in group sessions, from staff that administers the 403(b), and from external financial-planning experts not affiliated with the 403(b).

VCU offers paid time off specifically designated for caregiving, and short-term time off without pay, and long-term leaves of absence without pay, to allow for caregiving. The Leave Share program allows employees the option to donate leave to fellow employees.

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