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Best Employers 2007

Winners: 2007 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

For the seventh year, AARP is honoring innovative employers that have created welcoming workplaces for their 50-plus employees. This time around, we included a twist in the selection process: in addition to each employer's submitting an almost 60-page application detailing the company's benefits and employment practices, older employees got to add their two cents in the form of an anonymous survey. The results confirmed our suspicions: the winning employers are listening to their valued 50-plus workers and adding perks and programs tailored to their unique needs. With that in mind, we present our Top 10. (Find 40 additional companies honored by AARP for valuing older workers below.)

1. SC Johnson, Racine, Wis.
Consumer Products
3,297 employees; 35% 50+ (28% of managers, 38% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 3
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 4
Alternative Work Arrangements: 4

It's easy to wax poetic about the ways multinational SC Johnson proves its commitment to helping employees maintain a healthy work-life balance, starting with compressed work schedules, paid sabbaticals, summer hours, and a December "holiday shutdown." And if all that wasn't enough, employees, retirees, and their families can stay in shape at the Johnson Mutual Benefits Association/Wellness Center, which offers a multitude of recreation and fitness programs (retiree bonus: no dues).

2. Mercy Health System, Janesville, Wis.
Health Care
3,721 employees; 28% 50+ (32% of managers, 91% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 4
Pension Plans: 4
Alternative Work Arrangements: 4

We especially admire the way Mercy looks out for its workers' health. For example, it recently increased the number of paid-in-full screenings available to employees who seek health care within the system's facilities. Another impressive perk: Mercy has a free concierge program that will secure services such as home cleaning, car repair, and dry cleaning; arrange trips and vacations; and obtain tickets to area attractions, often at a discount.
*Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation recipient for its flexible-scheduling options.

3. First Horizon National Corporation, Memphis, Tenn.
Financial Services
12,208 employees; 23% 50+ (24% of managers, 36% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 5
Alternative Work Arrangements: 5

Forward-thinking First Horizon helps employees 50 and older prepare for retirement by pairing them with a Retiree Employee Services Relationship Manager (ESRM), who reviews the individual employee's situation and helps evaluate how such factors as years of service and age at retirement will impact benefits and finances in retirement. Retirees who have questions are welcome to turn to their ESRM for answers and guidance. For employees who want to ease into retirement rather than quit work cold turkey, First Horizon allows workers with at least one year of service to trim their workweek down to 20 to 32 hours and still receive full benefits.

4. Scripps Health, San Diego, Calif.
Health Care
11,119 employees; 31% 50+ (42% of managers, 69% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 4
Pension Plans: 5
Alternative Work Arrangements: 5

This year marks the third time Scripps has landed in our Top 10. The secret behind this consistently high performance? Scripps surveys its employees and acts on their suggestions for improvement. One recent result: a new tax-free retiree health account, which allows employees to save pretax dollars that won't be taxed later if used for health care expenses in retirement.

5. Stanley Consultants, Muscatine, Iowa
Consulting Services
1,018 employees; 30% 50+ (47% of managers, 44% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 3
Training and Development: 4
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 2
Alternative Work Arrangements: 3

Stanley bends over backward to give its employees scheduling options, recently adding a new Personal Time Off program that combines vacation and sick leave into one account so employees can use their paid time off in the way that works best for them. Retirement is also flexible at Stanley—about 75 percent of retiring employees take advantage of the phased retirement program, which is tailored to each individual.

6. Lee Memorial Health System, Fort Myers, Fla.
Health Care
8,595 employees; 37% 50+ (48% of managers, 48% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 4
Pension Plans: 3
Alternative Work Arrangements: 5

Older workers scaling back their hours have a champion in Lee Memorial. While most companies require employees to work at least 20 hours a week to get benefits such as health insurance and tuition reimbursement, Lee Memorial provides these to employees who work as few as 16 hours a week.

7. Leesburg Regional Medical Center and The Villages Regional Hospital, Leesburg, Fla.
Health Care
2,658 employees; 38% 50+ (40% of managers, 56% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 3
Pension Plans: 3
Alternative Work Arrangements: 5

LRMC/TVRH offers its employees an impressive range of alternative work schedules. One example: The "summers off" program allows workers to spend their winters in the Sunshine State and head to cooler climes for the hottest months of the year—participating employees work for nine months and get three months off while retaining their benefits and job security.

8. George Mason University, Fairfax, Va.
Higher Education
5,760 employees; 48% 50+ (58% of managers, 63% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 4
Training and Development: 3
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 5
Alternative Work Arrangements: 4

George Mason wins plaudits for its treatment of retirees, who are encouraged to continue their association with the university through its Retiree Connection program, which includes special events, workshops, and discounts. In addition, GMU retirees receive lifetime access to campus libraries and discounts to the Patriot Center (including basketball games) and the Center for the Arts.

9. Principal Financial Group, Des Moines, Iowa
Financial Services
13,100 employees; 19% 50+ (19% of managers, 37% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 4
Alternative Work Arrangements: 4

Principal prides itself on listening to its employees and making changes based on their suggestions. Case in point: After surveying employees, the company recently increased its 401(k) match. Another attention grabber: Principal has teamed up with Manpower for the Happy Returns Program, in which retirees are hired on a temporary basis—allowing them to continue working and earning while drawing on their pension.

10. Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, Mass.
Health Care
19,480 employees; 27% 50+ (40% of managers, 68% of executives)

Recruiting Practices: 5
Training and Development: 5
Health Benefits: 5
Pension Plans: 5
Alternative Work Arrangements: 5

After debuting at number 39 on last year's list, Massachusetts General shot up an amazing 29 spots into the Top 10. One reason? The hospital's dedication to providing employees with opportunities to continue their education and grow professionally. Examples: It expanded its tuition reimbursement to include certificate programs, and it launched Steps to Success, a program to guide and support employees in career development and transitions.

*Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation: This annual award is presented to companies whose creative and forward-thinking practices are designed to truly benefit the 50+ worker.

The Rest of the Best

These innovative employers also impressed us with their age-friendlyworkplaces and scored high in several of our ratings categories.

11. MidMichigan Health
Midland, Mich.
Health Care

12. Bon Secours Richmond Health System
Richmond, Va.
Health Care

13. The YMCA of Greater Rochester
Rochester, N.Y.
Nonprofit—Philanthropic Organization

14. Brevard Public Schools
Viera, Fla.
Education

15. Atlantic Health
Morristown, N.J.
Health Care

16. ACUITY
Sheboygan, Wis.
Insurance

17. Volkswagen of America Inc.
Auburn Hills, Mich.
Motor Vehicle Production

18. Saint Vincent Health System
Erie, Pa.
Health Care

19. Trinitas Hospital
Elizabeth, N.J.
Health Care

20. Securian
St. Paul, Minn.
Financial Services

21. Argonne National Laboratory
Argonne, Ill.
Federal Government

22. Pinnacle Health System
Harrisburg, Pa.
Health Care

23. The Aerospace Corporation
El Segundo, Calif.
Nonprofit

24. Cornell University
Ithaca, N.Y.
Higher Education

25. Pinnacol Assurance
Denver, Colo.
Insurance

26. Jennings Center for Older Adults
Garfield Heights, Ohio
Health Care

27. John Deere
Moline, Ill.
Industrial Equipment Manufacturing

28. Bon Secours St. Francis Health System
Greenville, S.C.
Health Care

29. Centegra Health System
Crystal Lake, Ill.
Health Care

30. Virginia Commonwealth University
Richmond, Va.
Higher Education

31. Durham Regional Hospital
Durham, N.C.
Health Care

32. Rush-Copley Medical Center
Aurora, Ill.
Health Care

33. Monongalia General Hospital
Morgantown, W.Va.
Health Care

34. Saint Barnabas Health Care Organization
West Orange, N.J.
Health Care

35. Express Personnel Services
Oklahoma City, Okla.
Business Services

36. Ochsner Health System
New Orleans, La.
Health Care

37. Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation
Huntsville, Ala.
Engineering Research
*Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation recipient for the work opportunities it offers its retirees.

38. Hospice of Marion County & Affiliated Companies
Ocala, Fla.
Health Care

39. West Virginia University Hospital
Morgantown, W.Va.
Health Care

40. University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
Houston, Texas
Health Care

41. Scottsdale Healthcare
Scottsdale, Ariz.
Health Care

42. Vanguard
Valley Forge, Penn.
Financial Services

43. Fairfield Medical Center
Lancaster, Ohio
Health Care

44. Michelin North America
Greenville, S.C.
Manufacturing

45. St. John Health
Warren, Mich.
Health Care

46. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
Chicago, Ill.
Insurance
*Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation for the training and development opportunities it offers its employees.

47. Noblis Inc.
Falls Church, Va.
Engineering/Research

48. Frankford Candy & Chocolate Co.
Philadelphia, Penn.
Food Production

49. Centers for New Horizons
Chicago, Ill.
Nonprofit—Community Services

50. Girl Scouts of Nassau County
Garden City, N.Y.
Nonprofit—Community Services

*Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation: This annual award is presented to companies whose creative and forward-thinking practices are designed to truly benefit the 50+ worker.

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