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2011 Best Employers - International

The Co-operative Group

This firm abolished its mandatory retirement age and offers flexible pension options

Winning Year: 2011
Industry: Grocery Retailing, Financial Services, Travel, Agriculture, Funeral Services
Location: Manchester, United Kingdom
Website: www.co-operative.coop
Employees: 95,448; Percentage over age 50: 24.6

A consumer cooperative with a diverse range of business interests, the Co-operative Group has taken several measures to remove barriers for older workers. These include flexible pension options for workers who wish to remain employed beyond pensionable age, mandatory training for managers on the benefits of age diversity and anti-age discrimination measures, and changes to recruitment practices to ensure older applicants have equal opportunities.

See also: How the 2011 Best Employers winners were selected.

Lifelong Learning and Training: The Be Wise Learning Center is designed to assist employees by providing access to a variety of learning and development courses and programs. This ranges from qualifications in sign language to even digital photography. The center is also designed to offer career guidance and information on writing cover letters and interview skills.

The Co-operative group also offers pre-retirement courses for those looking into retirement options.

Flexible Work Arrangements: Some common examples of flexible working in the Co-operative include part-time working, flexible hours, variable hours, home and distance working, compressed hours, and study leave career breaks. The Co-operative Group finds that flexible working opportunities are especially important to those who chose to carry on working past retirement. Thus the Group and individual managers have been helpful in accommodating the needs and desires of "continuing workers."

Health Promotion and Protection: The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a 24/7 confidential service that provides a range of specialist services and information. This can be in the form of face-to-face counseling or over the telephone.

Next: When to retire is now a matter of choice. >>

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