50 Best Companies For Older Workers

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Over 50 worker looking thoughtfulAn older worker is bypassed for someone younger and cheaper. A 55-year-old applies for 100 jobs, but is told that she's "overqualified." There have been countless stories like this since the recession. But what about the companies that truly value older workers? The annual ranking released Monday from the AARP and the Society for Human Resources Management spotlights the 50 best employers this year for workers aged 50-plus.

The top 10 are:

1. National Institute of Health

2. Scripps Health

3. Atlantic Health System

4. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

5. Mercy Health System

6. The YMCA of Greater Rochester

7. West Virginia University

8. Bon Secours Virginia

9. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

10. WellStar Health System

(You can read the rest of the list here.) Just a cursory glance at this list, and it's clear that if you are over 50 and want to be treated right, you should head to the health care industry. Twenty-two of the 50 employers on the list are in the health sector, mainly health-care providers, but also insurers, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Tufts Health Plan. After all, employers with older customers tend to want older workers. Few people want to receive tips on diabetes management from a 24-year-old.

"We consider our mature, seasoned workers to be an enormous wealth of talent," wrote Scripps Health, which took the No. 2 spot, in a news release, "as they bring both education and life-long experience to health care, traits that are critical when caring for our patients."

More:Health Care Jobs In Highest Demand In 2013


Other Take-Aways:

The best employers offer pretty amazing perks.
Most of the employers on the list share a rich array of benefits, such as the ability to work from home, financial planning workshops and job training. But there are also some particularly extraordinary extras, things like free prostate cancer, skin cancer and hearing loss screenings (Atlantic Health System), salary advances when times are tight (Scripps Health), the option to work seasonally, while keeping full-year benefits (Mercy Health System), and even cooking and Spanish classes (FCCI Insurance Group).

The top spot, the National Institutes of Health, offers personal finance seminars on topics such as estate planning and social security, investment funds that reallocate assets depending on your age, on-site child and grandchild care, contract and part-time work for its retirees, and anniversary parties for its long-time workers. It's little surprise that 47 percent of employees are 50-plus, and that the average older worker has been with the NIH for more than 18 years.

Higher ed institutions can be great places to work. Seven colleges and universities made the top 50 list: West Virginia University, Cornell University, George Mason University, Swarthmore College, MIT, the University of Pittsburgh and American University. These institutions are particularly generous to their retirees, with opportunities for temporary work, discounts on sports and cultural events, free lectures, and retirement planning workshops.

And as the workforce ages, and the economy heals, perks for older workers are likely to multiply. Businesses are beginning to realize that in tight times, employee experience probably isn't the place to scrimp.

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