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Sozial-Holding der Stadt Mönchengladbach GmbH

Winner: 2010 AARP International Innovative Employer Award

Sozial-Holding der Stadt Mönchengladbach GmbH

Winning Years: 2009, 2010
Industry: Hospitals / Health Care
Location: Mönchengladbach, Germany
Employees: 740; Employees over 50: 35%

Highlights of 2010 Winning Strategies:

With 35 percent of its staff falling into the 50+ age group, Sozial-Holding operates under the motto, "We are older, so what?" Sozial-Holding's annual working-time accounts and individual working-time models are of particular benefit to older workers with caregiving responsibilities. The organization also offers a variety of courses specifically aimed at helping its older workers, including holistic mnemonic training and preparation for the transition to retirement. Various career training programs are available for workers with no or little professional qualifications, many of whom are older women.  

Other policies and practices:

Lifelong Training and Learning: Sozial-Holding offers extensive training opportunities to all employees so as to maintain the high level of knowledge, competences and know-how required of a workforce in the care and nursing sector. Older employees participate in these programs to the same degree as their younger counterparts.

Older employees are encouraged to participate in training programs to change career tracks. As a consequence, many formerly unskilled older women have completed a professional education. Moreover, more than half of the company's recently certified housekeepers are over the age of 45.

The company also runs a course program specifically designed for its 50+ staff. This program includes classes in holistic mnemonic training, the psychological and financial aspects of the transition to retirement, changes in family life as well as volunteer activities.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Sozial-Holding maintains a system of annual working time accounts. Individual working-time models are of particular benefit to older workers with care-giving needs. Flexitime has reduced employee absences.
Sozial-Holding conducts individual interviews with employees who return to work after an extended leave of absence because of illness to determine occupational factors in the employee's indisposition. Preventative measures are developed on a case-by-case basis.

Health Promotion: Sozial-Holding's health promotion strategy is based on a systematic analysis of its workforce's health status as well as information collected by groups of specially designated non-executive staff across the organization ("health circles"). A specially created Health Steering Committee develops the company's overall health promotion goals, interventions and prevention measures.  

The company offers a wide variety of trainings designed to prevent overload and stress-related illnesses. These include trainings on carrying and lifting techniques as well as the handling of disoriented residents.

Medical massages, smoking cessation training, nutrition and back training courses, subsidized gym memberships, and ergonomic alterations are further components of the corporate health strategy.

Diversity Promotion: Sozial-Holding's diversity motto "we are older — so what!" reflects the company's fundamental decision not to categorize older employees as being less capable, and not to exclude them from opportunities. The large share of 50 + employees (30%) reflects this diversity approach.

Recruitment: Sozial-Holding attaches special importance to long-term human resource development, which includes the recruitment of older employees if their skills and qualifications fit the job profile.

Miscellaneous: The company has twice earned the Protestant Church's "ArbeitPlus" seal of approval for its exemplary practices in the fields of recruitment of apprentices and older workers, recruitment of the long-term unemployed and handicapped, integration through training and lifelong learning, flexible work-time arrangements, work-life balance, and others.

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