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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Guernsey Post Limited

Winner: 2010 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Guernsey Post Limited
Winning Year: 2010
Industry: Utilities
Location: Guernsey, United Kingdom
Employees: 292; Percentage over 50: 30.4%

Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies

To accommodate the changing needs of older workers, Guernsey Post redeploys postal delivery workers to indoor positions when their delivery rounds become too physically demanding. Guernsey Post further offers pre-retirement training through an external service, which educates employees on areas such as taxes, pensions, well-being, benefits, managing finances and working beyond retirement. Over the past two years, the organization moreover increased its focus on occupational health promotion and now offers in-house physiotherapy. This particularly benefits older members of the delivery staff, who frequently suffer from musculoskeletal problems.  

Additional policies and practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: Any form of learning and training are available to all employees at Guernsey Post regardless of age, position or length of service.

In 2007, the training facilities were redeveloped and a dedicated group training room was added, as well as IT training. Learning events are constructed to accommodate postal shifts. Along with formal training sessions, colleagues also learn via colleague briefing sessions and off-site conferences.

For certain specialist areas, experienced colleagues will coach newer employees. Length of service is extensive at Guernsey Post, an average of 11.5 years, so job shadowing is an important aspect of the training process. Guernsey sponsors employees in their quest to gain various professional qualifications.

Every employee is offered the opportunity of a Personal Development Plan for individual learning or specific training, when they move roles or learn new skills. The time required for these activities is scheduled into working hours and Guernsey will pay overtime to employees if an event cannot be scheduled during the regular work day. Some recent training courses have included Dignity at Work; Health and Safety; Retail Customer Services; IT skills; Payroll and Finance Packages; MS Excel, Word and Outlook; First Aid; and Retirement Training. This last course, retirement training, is conducted externally and covers taxes, pensions, well-being and benefits over a two-day period.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Despite certain limitations on flexible work arrangements for postal workers, Guernsey still works to offer flexible work arrangements to its employs. Employees can work at their own pace; younger employees may prefer to rush quickly along their route and finish early, whereas older workers may wish to take their time on their route.

For many, postal work can grow too difficult to perform at older ages, so Guernsey will re-post employees to an office position where the physical demands are less. Hours may also be reduced to part-time. A phased retirement process is available so workers approaching retirement can gradually reduce their hours over a number of months or weeks to better adjust.

Guernsey makes pensions available any time after age 50, but has no compulsory retirement age. At age 65, Guernsey asks all employees if they would like to continue working. If they answer yes, the employee's contract is renewed on an annual basis.

For employees working in the office, a number of flexible work arrangements are available from formal flextime to condensed weeks and reduced hours. For staff who are caring for grandchildren or elderly parents, there is a special leave policy allowing them to change their hours or take an extended period of paid or unpaid leave.

Employees returning to work after an extended illness are offered reduced hours and lighter duties to help gradually transition them back to a work environment.

Health Promotion and Protection: Guernsey Post has spent the last eighteen months focusing on health promotion and protection, particularly for older workers. The organization offers the standard health insurance, life insurance and ill health pension arrangements, but it has recently implemented more innovative initiatives.

After creating an attendance policy, Guernsey was able to work with its trade union to identify health problems early on and provide the necessary support to employees. Several older employees suffer from chronic conditions causing many short absences or a few long absences. Under the new policy, Guernsey is able to refer these employees to an occupational health doctor for recommendations on how best to return to work.

Guernsey organized an in-house physiotherapy service that operates on Monday morning. Employees can make appointments or walk-in for urgent cases. It has been particularly beneficial to older workers who suffer from chronic back pain or joint problems. Guernsey has also arranged on-site blood pressure checks and special rates for gym membership, as well as promotional campaigns to maintain a healthy lifestyle, such as quitting smoking.

Mental health is another area of concern for Guernsey Post. Recreational facilities are available on-site for use during breaks and to help unwind and de-stress. There is a pool table, TV and video games and Internet access.

Diversity Promotion: Within Guernsey, there is no official legislation eliminating age or disability discrimination. Despite this lack of official legislation, Guernsey Post aims to be the employer of choice on the island by promoting a professional, commercial and trusting culture. Guernsey actively encourages a diverse workforce, which is supported by their "Dignity at Work" policy, which sets out the responsibilities for all employees. Despite a large male majority working at Guernsey Post, the organization advertises without reference to gender and hires whoever the most suitable candidate may be.

With support from the Guernsey Post Board, trade unions and other colleagues, Guernsey Post launched its "Diversity Policy" to ensure all staff are treated fairly regardless of age, race, gender or disability. Every staff member is trained on "Dignity at Work" and all new employees attend this seminar as part of their induction.

Guernsey further supports diversity by removing all age limitations, allowing employees to continue to work for as long as they would like.

Recruitment: Guernsey applies a strictly neutral hiring policy to ensure older workers are not excluded from the hiring process. As such, job descriptions are written to encourage all applicants to apply.

Guernsey Post believes a mature approach to work is an explicit aspect of many of the jobs, and the organization values the experience and stability older workers can bring to their roles.

Miscellaneous: Guernsey Post uses a variety of communication channels to reach both their employees and the community. Every two weeks an internal newsletter entitled "Sorted Sorted" is distributed, listing past, present and future events to serve as a reminder tool.

Notice boards are posted throughout the workplace to provide information on products, services and the latest media coverage of Guernsey Post.

Team briefings are issued to line managers in written form, who then pass it down to employees verbally. This kind of communication also helps bond team members and develop greater understanding of the information being imparted.

An annual open meeting is held to all staff to voice their opinions and concerns. This meeting serves as a good forum for questions and answers, allowing employees to directly address the management team.

Once a month, communications are issued to staff homes to update employees on any HR updates or notices. This form of communication is particularly valued by older workers.

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