It’s still good to be in government — particularly, if you have a few years behind you. The National Institutes of Health ranked as the top employer for people over 50 in 2013, according to AARP’s annual award program.
Also recognized in AARP’s 2013 Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Award: the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service ranked 14 and the Veterans Affairs Department’s Veterans Health Affairs placed 25.
The Best Employer Award is a biennial AARP program designed to recognize employers with outstanding recruitment and retention practices for people over the age of 50. Criteria include flex-time, retiree benefits and health and pension plans.
NIH was the first federal agency ranked in AARP’s Best Employers and has remained on the list since 2008. But what makes NIH such an ideal employer for the baby boomer generation? Recruitment and retention — 47 percent of NIH employees are over the age of 50, with an average employee tenure of 18.4 years.
NIH recruits its strong workforce of people over 50 through job fairs and by notifying retirees of job openings, according to AARP. NIH also uses groups such as Peace Corps Returned Volunteers, community agencies for veterans, professional membership organizations and local alumni associations.
Another facet of the NIH’s success is retirement preparation. NIH offices such as the NIH Training Center, the NIH Credit Union, the NIH Benefits Office and the Recreation and Welfare Association provide resources for employees that help them make informed financial decisions and prepare for retirement.
Professional development is an integral part of the institutional culture; during a recent poll, 100 percent of NIH employees stated they had participated in at least one agency seminar in a 12-month period. Training opportunities and benefits include tuition reimbursement, certification classes, in-house classroom training, online training, commercial training, professional conferences and student loan repayment programs.
NIH further provides quarterly financial seminars to give employees advice on estate planning, college funding, Thrift Savings Plan investing, Social Security, investment tips and strategies for fraud avoidance.
With a diverse culture, flexible working arrangements, a focus on professional development and commitment to preparing employees for retirement, it seems likely NIH will top AARP’s list again next year.