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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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GALERIA Kaufhof GmbH

Winner: 2010 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

GALERIA Kaufhof GmbH
Winning Year: 2010
Industry: Service Sector
Location: Cologne, Germany
Employees: 23,300; Percentage over 50: 37.4%

Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies

A bevy of programs geared toward older workers at Galeria Kaufhof creates an environment in which lifelong learning and training is a priority. In 2007, Galeria Kaufhof launched "Fit for Future," a program that provides individualized on-the-job training to enhance the qualifications, employability and confidence of older employees. Galeria Kaufhof's holistic health promotion program offers ergonomic training, health days dedicated to 55+ workers, and a smoking cessation program. The company also recently created the position of a demography officer in an effort to ensure that corporate decision-making is informed by demographic analysis.

Additional policies and practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: Galeria Kaufhof takes a holistic approach to encouraging lifelong learning and training. Kaufhof connects younger employees with older, experienced employees to help share knowledge. The company would like to continue building these relationships in the future, so all employees can benefit.

Kaufhof recently launched the "Fit for Future" program, designed to actively recruit and provide training to older workers. "Fit for Future" was created to help ensure all older workers have the necessary formal qualifications for their positions. The program is designed to boost the confidence of older workers through formal training, so the majority of training takes place on the floor.

Kaufhof also participates in the project "Advantage Experience" initiated by the German Federal Ministry of Family, Women, Seniors, and Youth. "Advantage Experience" helps older workers enhance and stabilize their employability.

Health Promotion and Protection: Galeria Kaufhof promotes healthy practices early on, and helps employees maintain those good lifestyle choices as they age. All health promotion activities are rooted in the idea of prevention and participation.

Recently, Kaufhof has hosted a forum delivering advice on ergonmoics, and held several "health days" with free tests and check-ups, including one day geared solely to workers 55+. Kaufhof also offers discounted gym memberships to encourage employees to stay active. To highlight the fun side of health living, Kaufhof hosted a night-run through Cologne. To encourage healthy eating habits, the cafeteria is stocked with nutritious options.

Kaufhof has a variety of internal policies to promote the health of its employees. In 2006 Kaufhof launched a corporate integration mangament policy with the workers' council to maintain a productive work environment. Kaufhof also has an agreement with the workers' council to enact family-friendly measures, prevent and treat addiction issues, and protect the rights of non-smokers.

Diversity Promotion: Galeria Kaufhof believes the diversity of their customer base should be reflected by the diversity of their workforce. The company is particularly eager to prevent age discrimination. To achieve this goal, Kaufhof creates mixed teams of senior and junior employees, participates in workforce planning to identify areas where future developmental programs may be needed, and actively appeals to senior candidates for open job positions.

Kaufhof signed the Berliner Declaration, an agreement between federations, corporations and companies to actively engage in the process of demographic change by addressing the needs of older people. Signers of the agreement are encouraged to develop products and services to meet the needs of Germany's aging population. To better enact the tenets of the Berliner Declaration, Kaufhof appointed a special Demography Officer. Galeria Kaufhof was the first German commercial enterprise to create the position of Demography Officer. Specific actions have been taken to help implement the Berliner Declaration. Lifelong learning is offered for all staff, but especially encouraged for older employees; young staff are trained to meet the needs of the 50+ customer base; stores are well-lit and handicap accessible and personal shopping services are provided to visually and hearing impaired customers. Such measures have led to three Galeria Kaufhof stores being awarded with the barrier-free label.

Recruitment: Galeria Kaufhof aims for an age-balanced employee structure and so is purposely ambiguous in their employer branding campaign to help attract candidates of all ages. Thirty-five percent of current Kaufhof employees are fifty years of age or older and five percent of new hires were fifty years of age or older. Kaufhof works to discourage early retirement for those employees who would like to continue learning. Not only does this allow older workers the opportunity to continue working it also promotes the transfer of knowledge to newer employees.

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