The AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) began the annual list seven years ago in recognition that more people than ever before are working into their 60s and beyond. The group honors companies that support an aging workforce by providing flexible work schedules, health insurance options, and other benefits to retain and attract baby-boomer candidates.
"It is important that more employers -- both large and small -- recognize what tremendous assets 50 and over employees represent because of their experience and motivation," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli in announcing this year's winners.
The Honor Roll
The employers honored by the AARP in 2007 include Mercy Health System of Janesville, Wis.; Principal Financial Group in Des Moines, Iowa; West Virginia University Hospitals; Volkswagen of America Inc. in Auburn Hills, Mich.; John Deere of Moline, Ill.; and George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. (The complete list is available at AARP.org.)
SC Johnson, based in Racine, Wis. and known for brands like Shout and Windex, topped the list for its onsite medical center and wellness, fitness, and education programs. The AARP also saluted the company's comprehensive financial benefits and retirement planning tools for employees.
Health care and education were the most visible industries on the AARP list in 2007, which was similar to 2006. More than 110 companies participated in a comprehensive application process to be considered for the honor.
No Short Cuts
Roberta Chinsky Matuson, principal with Human Resource Solutions based in Massachusetts, cautioned that lists like the AARP's are only one type of resource that job-seekers over 50 should consult.
"Job seekers should keep in mind that many organizations have large public-relations departments that help their companies make it onto these lists," she said. "There are many great companies that never even apply."
She added that baby-boomer candidates should do their own research on companies and consult with friends and others in their network to get a sense if an employer is supportive of mature workers.
What Boomers Want
"Many workers over 50 have expressed interest in jobs to help improve the quality of life in their communities, jobs that connect them to their passion in life, a purpose bigger than themselves, and other people," said Stefanie Weiss, spokeswoman for Civic Ventures, a think tank devoted to boomers and their contributions to work and society.
Monique A. Dearth, president of Incite Strategies, an Atlanta-based human resources consulting firm, agrees that many employees over 50 have different priorities on the job.
"They are experienced employees who generally aren't looking to develop a high profile career," she said, "but rather want to leverage their past experience, feel valued in the organization, and contribute at a meaningful level."