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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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Hansgrohe AG

Winner: 2010 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Hansgrohe AG

Winning Year: 2010
Industry: Metal Products
Location: Schiltach, Germany
Employees: 1,786; Percentage over 50: 21.8%

Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies

Through Project MUMM, a venture designed to increase the participation and motivation of 50+ workers, Hansgrohe AG promotes a diverse work environment in which all employees are actively included. Based on employee feedback, Hansgrohe has launched several programs designed to address the needs of older workers, including computer training, health promotion efforts and flexible work schedules. Project FILM, another Hansgrohe initiative, works to better integrate underperforming employees, some of whom are older workers providing care for family members. Hansgrohe's corporate health management efforts include an extensive array of exercise classes catering to all levels of physical fitness, ergonomic training and an initiative to reconfigure the workplace to make it more age-friendly.

Additional policies and practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training:
All employees are encouraged to participate in personnel development programs or opportunities, regardless of age. During the company's annual Qualitative Personnel Planning Discussions, each employee's individual needs are addressed. Hansgrohe offers a wide variety of courses at varying levels of experience. For example, courses for IT training including Excel, Word, Powerpoint and others are offered at both beginner and advanced levels. Language courses are also available in-house or at outside language institutions.

Project MUMM, geared at increasing participation and motivation specifically for employees 50+, provides more targeted training, including: SAP trainings, PC trainings and health benefits trainings. The company holds an annual MUMM Welcome Meeting for all employees who have recently reached age 50. Here, the new participants converse with company representatives about how Hansgrohe can ensure their older workers' future employability.

Privately financed education is encouraged and flexible working hours are offered to accommodate academic schedules. In 2010, Hansgrohe would like to introduce new courses geared to their 50+ employees, regarding memory reflexes, concentration practices and motivation/self-organization.

Flexible Work Arrangements: At the company's annual MUMM Welcome Meeting the central theme was "Alternative Working Hours." Older employees selected this as an important issue, as many wish to adjust their working hours as they approach retirement. Hansgrohe reviewed employee requests and operational requirements to create a more flexible work policy. Employees can now create individualized break schedules. The company also introduced sabbaticals, another benefit employees identified as important to a work-life balance.

Employees who move to part-time work as they approach retirement receive an increase in their company pension, to help offset the loss of income. Telecommuting is also an option for some employees.

If a special situation arises, such as an ill or ailing family member, Hansgrohe will work with the affected employee and HR department to create a flexible work schedule.

Health Promotion and Protection: Hansgrohe pursues a health management policy that actively engages employees and encourages all to take personal responsibility for their future health. In 2009, Hansgrohe was awarded the Corporate Health Award for exemplary health management.

Hansgrohe hosts an annual "Health Week" where employees can participate in a range of activities including: dance aerobics, Pilates, self-defense courses, water aerobics, as well as seminars on exercise, nutrition and stress relief.

Hansgrohe's Health Management team also offers courses for employees' children so healthy lifestyle choices can be made early on. Approximately 7,000 employees visit Hansgrohe's Wellness Test Center every year, where employees can take part in strength and endurance training and then relax in a sauna. Instruction for fitness equipment is also offered, as is personal training service

For apprentices, Hansgrohe offers an introductory program called "Hans FIT" a special health program tailored to these new employees. Courses on ergonomics, nutrition, stress relief, addiction prevention, work-life balance, and strength and endurance are adapted to meet the needs of these apprentices.

Diversity Promotion: Hansgrohe's Project MUMM has been instrumental in eliminating age discrimination. Designed to increase employee participation and motivation, part of the project's plan has included partnering older workers with newer employees to help increase connections and pass along knowledge.

Hansgrohe has also used Project MUMM to implement age-friendly policies. Flexible break schedules and sabbaticals were introduced. Hansgrohe also implemented training programs geared specifically to their 50+ workers. Plans are pending for "age robust" assembly lines so that all age groups can work productively. An experimental job-rotation program was implemented in 2010, and if successful will be expanded next year. Hansgrohe continues to create and develop new age-friendly policies, to ensure that all employees regardless of age work in a comfortable environment.

Recruitment: During the recruitment process, Hansgrohe makes no differentiation based on the applicant's age. For Hansgrohe, qualifications and experience serve as the deciding factor. The company continues to attract older workers, demonstrated this year with the hiring of a new head of equipment manufacturing who is 50+.

Miscellaneous: In 2009, project FILM was introduced to better integrate underperforming employees. A project team was created to review underperforming employees and provide individualized recommendations. Hansgrohe uses an Excel program to identify underperforming employees, thereby eliminating any form of discrimination.

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