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Best Places To Work For Boomers

Baby boomers make up about 40 percent of the nation's workforce. The oldest boomers in the huge and influential group will start turning 60 next year.

Many of them are planning to work past the traditional retirement age, so the AARP recognized companies they consider the "Best Employers Of People Over 50."

As part of the "Young at Heart" series, the director of economic security for AARP, Deborah Russell, visits The Early Show to talk about why companies are doing more to retain older workers.

In 2003, an AARP survey indicated that 80 percent of baby boomers are planning to work past traditional retirement age. The primary reason appears to be because they haven't saved enough to retire comfortably.

Luckily, there is a concern that when the baby boomers retire, there will be a shortage in the workforce. Therefore, more companies are recognizing the value of having experienced older workers and want to retain and recruit them.

Here is a list of the top 10 companies on AARP's list.

  1. Stanley Consultants, Inc. (Muscatine, Iowa)
  2. Scripps Health (San Diego, Calif.)
  3. Bon Secours Richmond Health System (Richmond, Va.)
  4. Deere & Company (Moline, Ill.,)
  5. Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.)
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Mass.)
  7. First Horizon National Corporation (Memphis, Tenn.)
  8. Brevard Public Schools (Viera, Fla.)
  9. Yale-New Haven Hospital (New Haven, Conn.)
  10. Lee Memorial Health System (Fort Myers, Fla.)

Stanley Consultants Inc., an engineering company in Muscatine, Iowa, topped their list of "Best Employers of People Over 50" because a large percentage of its workforce is actually over 50.

"The CEO's philosophy is, when talking about this industry, experience counts," Russell says. "They value it and see it as a huge commodity."

The company offers a phased retirement arrangement to employees, which allows them to ease into retirement. In addition to that and a 401k plan, employees can donate time to a "time off bank." They and other employees can use it to care for relatives. One employee who used it had a son who was affected by the Oklahoma City bombing. Russell says there wasn't a question about whether he would be able to take off from work and go. The company fully supported him.

She says that most companies offering phased retirement are usually larger.

Healthcare was the leading industry on the list with 19 award recipients. Scripps Health, which is a multi-year winner, was second.

Because of labor shortages, particularly of nurses, Russell says the industry wants to keep and recruit experienced nurses. One way they are helping nurses work longer is to have "lift teams." The team helps aging nurses to lift patients out of bed. Scripps and other healthcare companies have found that it's important to give their nurses ongoing learning opportunities because of the constant changes in medicine.

Here are some industry trends:

  • Hospitals are giving nurses the opportunity to work during seasons that appeal to them. During the winter, for example, nurses living in cold areas may work in a warm climate.
  • More academic institutions are seeing shortages of teachers, particularly in the medical field. In response, employees are being offered phased retirement, job sharing, part-time work and ongoing education.
  • In the technical industry, there is concern about losing workers in highly technical jobs, such as engineering and science. "The concern is if you have a large proportion leaving at the same time," Russell says, "how is that knowledge being captured (transferred)? Many companies are looking at how to do this through phased retirement."

For those boomers who are not prepared for retirement, Russell offers the following advice:
  • Look at your retirement plan
  • Save as much as possible
  • Identify when you will retire and how much money you will need
  • Think about what you will do with your time.

    Although many boomers plan to work longer, they can't anticipate how their health is going to be when they reach retirement age. Therefore, it's important that baby boomers really look at their retirement plan and save as much as possible.

    Russell says that if an employer is offering a retirement benefit plan, the employee should at least contribute enough to the plan that covers what the company will match.

    "A good work environment for baby boomers," she says, "is a good environment for all workers."

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