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Employer Resource Center


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

Tips to improve benefits or introduce new ones to attract skilled and experienced workers.

Consider Offering Attractive Preretirement Options and Savings Plans

Allow employees to test-drive retirement. For example, at Bon Secours Virginia, a nine-time Best Employer, employees working 32-plus hours per week can take part in the organization’s formal phased retirement program. The program allows the employee to retire from Bon Secours and then get rehired without losing any retirement funds. Those ages 65-69 maintain pension benefits provided they are not working more than 24 hours per week. Employees working past age 70½ receive their pension, with no limits on hours worked.

Moreover, at the Aerospace Corporation, a 2011 Best Employer for Workers Over 50, employees who are eligible for retirement can work part time or take up to 90 days to try out retirement but not lose their job or employee benefits if they opt to return to work full time. If they retire, these employees can also return to work on projects for up to 1,000 hours a year and still retain their retirement benefits.

Enable employees to draw retirement benefits while still working. Since 2002, employees who are eligible for retirement at Baptist Health South Florida in Coral Gables, Fla., can withdraw funds from their retirement account without penalty, still hang on to their job and full benefits, and continue participating in its retirement program, according to Bob Shirk, corporate director of benefits at Baptist.

Offer 100 percent vesting of stocks for employees who reach the age of 62. At Burns & McDonnell, which introduced an employee stock ownership plan back in 1986, employees must wait six years before they're vested. But when they reach the age of 62, it's automatic — they own the stock, explains Melissa Wood, senior vice president of human resources at the engineering firm in Kansas City, Mo. She says this strategy was implemented partly because engineers are valuable at any age. "When you're recruiting the 58-59 year-old, that vesting schedule is attractive to them," she says, adding that engineers are never ready to retire. "There's no weight or burden of, 'I have to be here for seven or 10 years to be vested.’ ”

Other Appealing Perks

"Consider offering shuttle service, especially for those who work evening hours at one location. Some individuals, regardless of age, are reluctant to drive on busy streets at night or on a freeway,” says Barnett.

Further, in these tough economic times, many employers have offered financial assistance to their employees. For example, Scripps Health offers financial hardship benefits such as salary advances, PTO hardship withdrawals and the employee funded Scripps HOPE Fund, which provides financial hardship assistance with paid time off or financial assistance.

"Serve lunch or dinner before or after a shift. Create social opportunities around the meal that create a sense of family or community, enabling employees to get to know their peers on a personal level.” Barnett says many employers are considering it.

These benefits are attractive to employees of all ages and can be effective recruiting strategies to bring top talent to your company. They also convey to workers that their employers value their contributions to the workplace. What employer doesn't want to be seen as a cut above its competition in the race to seed top talent?

For more examples of award-winning policies and practices of AARP’s Best Employers for Workers Over 50, go to www.aarp.org/bestemployers.

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