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Get Ahead of the Competition With Benefits that Appeal to Older Workers

More than likely, your company offers a smorgasbord of employee benefits. But are they the right kind to attract the 50+ job candidate? Here are some tips on how to tweak existing benefits or introduce new ones to attract skilled and experienced workers.

Consider These Appealing Health Benefits

"Provide discounted prices on supplemental policies that cover gaps in Medicare or contribute a specific amount toward those premiums," says Barry Barnett, principal at PricewaterhouseCoopers in NY. At the very least, they provide workers with added protection and shows employees that you care about their well-being. Do the same with concierge benefits, ranging from vision and dental to pet insurance. "Employers don't incur any expense but the employee benefits from reduced costs," he says.

"Identify medicines that are most frequently used by employees. Chances are many are being prescribed for mature workers who may not be able to afford them, such as cholesterol, diabetic or heart medications. Then check into the patient assistant programs offered by the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture these drugs and ask for discounts", says Michelle Katz, president of HC Strategies in Washington, DC. "Sometimes the insurance company has already done this, but sometimes they haven't," she explains. "Cut out the middle man and go right for the gut."

"Offer health care plans that cover second generation family members who are dependents like grandchildren," says Dorma Kohler, owner and managing partner at AlteraMed Group in Houston. Many plans don't offer this extended coverage.

Establish group rates for long term care and long term disability with guaranteed issue (where no one can be turned down). "Some people who are now in their 50s are thinking they need to pick these benefits up and are finding it's very costly," adds Kohler. "Once you start having health problems, it's hard to pick these benefits up as an individual."

Offer Training Opportunities to Help Employees Soar

"Proactively offer your training programs to mature workers, regardless of their position or work status. The MGM Grand Resorts employs two workers over the age of 80 who completed the company's entire computer series. The series includes everything from Microsoft Word to Excel and its online leadership courses, says Earl Falls, executive director of employment and technology at the MGM in Las Vegas. Others who enjoy hobbies outside of work take advantage of the company's life skills classes like cooking, floral arrangements, candy-making or quilt-making. "The need to learn is a driving force for many in this age group," he says. "The more robust your training and educational programs are, the more this group will be attracted to your [company]. It's all about inclusion, respecting everybody's contributions."

These Flexible Work Options Attract Workers 50+

"Create passport or snowbird programs that allow employees to work in different parts of the country. Many employers are already doing this, says Roselyn Feinsod, principal, workforce effectiveness at Towers Perrin in NY. She points to Home Depot, CVS, and Borders as examples.

"Present the option of shorter shifts, adds Feinsod. This may be especially appealing to employees whose job requires them to stand on their feet all day, such as nurses or cashiers.

"Develop temporary employment opportunities where employees act as consultants. Tim Phoenix, principal at Deloitte Consulting in Austin, TX, knows of a large manufacturing company that offers such opportunities to engineers, who are in short supply. They're hired for various projects throughout the year and can work as much or as little as they want. Some work three months a year, spend the winter in Florida, then return to work for another two-month project. "It's the idea that people work very intensively for short periods of time," he says. "It's a tremendously good practice in the high skills area like [with] executives or management level [employees] where it can be project-driven."

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