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Who was the best employer you ever worked for?
Through the years, I've noticed that this question isn't always the same as asking what your "best job" was. Maybe that shift manager you worked for made waiting on tables seem like great fun — as a boss I once had did. I've also noticed that what we value in an employer changes as we age. In my waitress days, I enjoyed the frenetic pace and the entrepreneurial satisfaction of tucking big tips into my pocket at the end of each night. Later, as a young management consultant, I valued the boot-camp intensity of business training and the opportunity to explore and expand my boundaries through business travel.
See also: More on AARP Best Employers.
Now, as a parent of two young children, I'll do almost anything to avoid getting on an airplane for work — and I'm glad that my current job at AARP gives me the flexibility to stay put. I love that I get to mentor younger colleagues and learn from older ones. I love AARP's social mission. And I appreciate the long-term financial stability I'll get through a 401(k) match, a pension and retiree health benefits.
Some of these benefits are in short supply in modern organizations. But there are still employers that offer the kind of workplaces where all employees can thrive — including those over age 50.
Since 2001, AARP has worked with employers to identify, acknowledge and reward policies and practices that define a great workplace for older workers. Last year, with the help of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the "Best Employers for Workers Over 50" program recognized 50 U.S. employers that exemplified the fairness and flexibility that older workers value.
This year, AARP and SHRM are asking for your help in identifying potential "Best Employers."
It's hard not to be wowed by companies like last year's winner, Scripps Health of San Diego. Not only does Scripps recruit, retain and rehire older workers, it offers a dizzying array of unconventional benefits: Section 529 college savings plans, pet insurance, on-site child care, legal assistance, drug discounts, and even a deeply discounted personal genome scan to help identify inherited disease risks.
To retain and celebrate their experienced employees, Scripps hosts an annual Hollywood-themed party — red carpet, limos and all — for anyone reaching five-year milestones.
Your employer doesn't need to literally roll out the red carpet to be a great place for older workers. In fact, participating in the Best Employers program might help it become an even better employer. One of the program's most valuable features is to provide company leaders an opportunity to share ideas and learn from one another through roundtable discussions.
At the end of the yearlong process, AARP provides each applicant with extensive feedback about its workplace policies, pointing out where they are excelling and where they are falling short.
If you think your employer deserves some recognition and feedback for the way it treats older workers, recommend it to be one of our next Best Employers. We want to hear from you.
Jean Setzfand is vice president of financial security at AARP.
You may also like: Best employers for people over 50.