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Best Employers

Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration

Winner: 2009 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

by:, from: AARP, July 14, 2009


Winning Years: 2009
Industry: Government - Federal
Location: Washington, D.C.

Highlights of 2009 Winning Strategies

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA), part of the Department of VeteransAffairs, emphasizes continued learning and development for its employees. The VHA's highly skilled workforce is eligible for various tuition-reimbursement, loan-forgiveness, and scholarship programs, in addition to training resources and requirements. Fifty percent of VHA employees are age 50+.

Workplace Culture and Continued Opportunities: The VHA offers the followinglearning and development opportunities to its employees: tuition reimbursement, in-house classroom training, online training, certification classes, nursing scholarships, and loan-forgiveness programs. A full 100 percent of VHA employees used at least one of the learning and development opportunities in 2008, so each employee underwent an average of 30 hours of instruction.

At Veterans' Health, long-service anniversaries are celebrated with announcements, parties, and awards. Employees can also receive temporary jobassignments, team projects, and access to a formal job-rotation program to develop new experience and skills. In addition, the VHA proctors Presidential Management Fellows and Technical Career Field interns.

The VHA is committed to maintaining an accommodating work environment for itsemployees with physical limitations. It provides specialized computerequipment, telephone equipment, ambulation devices, interpreters, and ergonomicwork stations.

Benefits/Health: The VHA provides the following individual and family health benefits to all employees: medical, prescription-drug, vision, dental, and long-term-care insurance. Retirees below and above age 65 are eligible forretiree and spousal medical insurance, prescription-drug coverage, vision, dental,and long-term-care insurance, and death benefits. Federal retirees and theirsurviving spouses retain their eligibility for health coverage at the same costas current employees. The VHA offers a health flexible spending account (FSA) to help defray out-of-pocket medical expenses.  

Benefits/Financial: All VHA employees can invest in defined-benefit and defined-contribution retirement plans with an employer match. Employees areable to invest in life-cycle funds and to make catch-up contributions. Membersof the VHA staff and external financial experts provide financial-planninginformation to employees.

VHA permits unpaid short- and long-term leave for employees with caregiving responsibilities. In addition, VHA supports the Voluntary Leave-Transfer Program, which allows federal employees to donate annual leave to other federalemployees who are experiencing medical emergencies.

Flu shots, smoking-cessation programs, discounts to local health clubs, andweight-loss counseling—all are wellness benefits available to full- andpart-time employees.

VHA provides on-site child care and referral services to help employees findcare for children, grandchildren, and elders.

Benefits/Alternative-Work Arrangements: VHA offers its employees alternative work arrangements, such as flextime, compressed-work schedules, and telecommuting. Full-time employees may also move to part-time work on either atemporary or permanent basis. 

Opportunities for Retirees: Retirees stay connected to the organization through regular communications from VHA and via its acknowledgements of new retirements. Retirees may also benefit from temporary work assignments, consulting or contract work, telecommuting, and full- or part-time work.

Age of Workforce: Fifty percent of VHA employees are age 50+.

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