The Best for Boomers

boomer guyAn awful lot of oxygen has been used talking about how baby boomers—and younger generations, for that matter—will be working forever, either unable or unwilling to sock away the money they need to retire comfortably.

Well, at least some boomers aren’t simply trudging through the extra years they’re putting in at the office.

You’ll likely find a lot of them at the organizations named to this year’s “AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50” list. The AARP’s biennial awards, co-sponsored by the Alexandria, Va.-based Society for Human Resource Management, recognize companies with exemplary practices for recruiting and retaining mature workers.

The companies making the cut with mature workers have a few traits in common, according to a recent MarketWatch piece.

One such characteristic seems to be a focus on health. In fact, the top five slots were occupied by healthcare organizations—National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.), Scripps Health (San Diego), Atlantic Health System (Morristown, N.J.), University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center (Houston), and Mercy Health System in Janesville, Wis.

Workers at these and other Top 50 organizations enjoy robust benefits, according to MarketWatch. At Scripps Health, for instance, health insurance premiums are waived for workers who participate in wellness programs. NIH offers access to an emergency day care program for employees’ children, grandchildren and elderly parents.

Greenville, S.C.-based Michelin North America Inc. (No. 24) is in the process of installing health centers at some of its locations. The company recently started construction on its fourth such facility, designed to provide employees with easy access to care before and after work, as well as during lunch breaks.  

Companies singled out by AARP and SHRM also actively seek out mature workers. For example, 88 percent of this year’s winners reported offering consulting or contracting work to retirees (versus 78 percent in 2011). Eighty-eight percent said they are reaching out to retirees with offers of full-time work, compared to 70 percent two years ago.

“We’re recruiting at a record level,” Wayne Culbertson, executive vice president and chief human resources officer for Michelin North America, told MarketWatch.

At NIH, employees are permitted to work compressed schedules to balance their jobs with their personal lives. In some cases, such an arrangement has been a key to keeping an older employee on board.

“My boss lets me telework one week a month from my home,” 63-year-old Philip Lenowitz, a deputy director in the office of HR at NIH, told MarketWatch. “That’s one of the things that keeps me here rather than retiring.”

So, there doesn’t seem to be a super-secret formula that this select group of employers has stumbled onto. Boomers, it turns out, appreciate the same types of perks and opportunities that other employees do.