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Best Employers for Workers Over 50

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National University Hospital (NUH)

Winner: 2010 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

National University Hospital (NUH)

Winning Year: 2010
Industry: Healthcare
Location: Singapore
Employees: 5,540; Percentage over 50: 10.6%

Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies

National University Hospital partnered with Healthcare Services Employees' union in 2008 to launch "Active Edge," a program designed to increase the employability of older workers. Moreover, 60+ employees benefit from a comprehensive training program on financial planning, health and post-retirement re-employment opportunities that aims to encourage older workers to stay with NUH as long as they are able to. NUH is currently offering re-employment offers to 100% of employees past the statutory retirement age of 62. Another innovative NUH initiative is the hospital's Back to Nursing program, which provides re-certification training for nurses who have taken a break from nursing for five or more years.

Additional policies and practices:

Lifelong Learning and Training: NUH considers older workers to be a great asset to the organization as they bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience. In an effort to retain older workers, NUH formed a partnership with the Healthcare Services Employees' Union, to launch the program "Active Edge" in 2008 to promote and facilitate the employability of older workers.

NUH is People Developer certified, an award representing national recognition for organizations with systems and processes that achieve excellence through people. NUH provides ample opportunity for employees to continually raise their proficiency and professional knowledge. Training and upgrading opportunities are extended to all regardless of age. Customized training is provided to older workers, who may face difficulty in accessing new technology.

NUH makes new technologies as user-friendly as possible, so all can easily understand and master the new tools.

In 2009, NUH partnered with Centre for Seniors to provide an all-encompassing counseling course to employees 60 years of age and older. The course is designed to help older staff review their financial status and plan for retirement. Centre for Seniors is developing a new program for employees 50+ that NUH will utilize in the near future.

NUH uses training funds to sponsor employees for formal courses that lead to accredited academic of professional qualifications.

With ample training in place, NUH is dedicated to offering fair and equal promotion opportunities to all staff. Of all staff who received a promotion, 24% were 40 years of age or older.

Flexible Work Arrangements: NUH aims to provide a strong work-life balance for all employees. To this end, NUH offers flexible work schedules through the introduction of an e-Rostering system for its nursing staff. It is the first hospital in Singapore to utilize the e-Rostering program. The e-Rostering system provides flexibility by catering to each nurse's preferred working pattern and makes all schedules transparent. This system has been beneficial to NUH and its employees as it allows NUH to meet its staffing needs, while nurses are able to create personalized schedules.

NUH also maintains a part-time policy in which employees can continue to enjoy benefits pro-rated according to the number of hours worked. Forty percent of individuals working part-time are age 50 or above.

Health Promotion and Protection: NUH is dedicated to maintain the health of its workforce. The organization is continually researching new methods to help older workers conduct their work safely, and with optimal ease and comfort.

A variety of initiatives were introduced in the past three years. For example: old food trolleys were replaced with newer, lighter models; customized motorized pharmacy trolleys were purchased so storekeepers no longer need to manually lift trolleys; magnifying glasses equipped with lights were made available to help read drug labels; a Fitness Hub was established at NUH to provide employees with gym access and a fitness consultant is available to provide free, on-site assistance.

NUH also established the NUH Total Lifestyle Connection (NTLC) designed to achieve a better work-life balance. Through NTLC, an array of programs has been offered. October is A.C.T.I.V.E month, when all staff are encouraged through various activities and seminars to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Health screening packages are also offered during this month. From May to August inter-institution game competitions are offered. These games are open to all ages and allow for bonding among colleagues. Weekly exercise classes are also offered to help maintain an active lifestyle.

Diversity Promotion: NUH follows five core principles: Teamwork; Respect; Integrity; Compassion; and Excellence. Much emphasis is placed on the first two values, Teamwork and Respect. NUH believes every employee should be respected and feel part of the team regardless of their age, ethnicity or culture.

To help inculcate this framework into new employees, all new hires must undergo four days of orientation in which the five core principles are discussed. Every department also assigns a buddy to new hires, roughly for a month, to help facilitate communication and cooperation.

All staff are assessed on an annual basis and those who have demonstrated teamwork, and respect for peers would be considered for promotion or progression regardless of age or race.

Recruitment: NUH signed the Employers' Pledge of Fair Employment to demonstrate their commitment to fair hiring practices. The pledge requires signers to commit to equal opportunities for employment, rewards according to merit, fair treatment with respect, and help to optimize abilities and talents.

Currently, 11% of NUH's staff is age 50 or above, and approximately 8% of new hires are age 40 or above. To recruit older workers, NUH participates in several programs. The Professional Conversion Programme for registered nurses looks to recruit mid-career professionals with at least a diploma into health care jobs by providing the funds for two years of training. Another program NUH participates in is called "Developing our Local Healthcare Assistants". In 2008, NUH partnered with NGH College to provide theoretical and practical training to local health care assistants. Upon successful completion, candidates will be given a position at NUH as healthcare assistants. NUH also participates in the Back to Nursing Programme, to help attract nurses who have been out of the workforce for five or more years. Recruits complete a 2 ½ to three month program and are then eligible for re-certification.

NUH participated in the 2008 Silver Talent Fair, and the 2008 National Healthcare Group Matured Worker Roadshow, both events yielded over 500 applicants.

NUH offers post-retirement employment to all retiring staff. Approximately 98% continue to work, after the retirement age of 62.

Miscellaneous: Communication is an essential ingredient to a successful work environment at NUH. Regular dialogues are held amongst employees, and between management and employees. New communication platforms and systems allow management to better understand the needs of the employees. Since 2001, NUH has issued the Employee Climate Survey to help determine any 'on-the-ground' issues that management may need to address.

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