September 7, 2005

C.U. Ranks Fifth For Employees Over 50

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Cornell University has been named one of the top employers for workers over the age of 50 by the American Associated of Retired Persons (AARP). Ranked fifth among the 50 honorees, Cornell was also the only college or university in New York State to receive the award.

Mary George Opperman, vice president of human resources, emphasized Cornell’s commitment to all its employees.

“We try very hard to be sure our benefits meet the needs of our stages in their lives,” she said. “We try to be a family-friendly employer, recognizing that families come in many variations that change over the years. By working to meet the needs of our workers throughout their time with us, we try to understand and respond to the needs of workers and their families as they change over time.”

For the past five years the AARP, one of the nation’s largest groups dedicated to the interests of older persons, has honored both non-profit and for-profit businesses and organizations with its “AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50” list. Those employers honored offer some of the best policies such as phased retirement, flextime, generous 401(k) company contributions, retirement benefits and pensions, health benefits, job sharing, telecommuting and compressed schedules.

As the number of Americans over the age of 50 will increase in the next few years, the number of older workers in the labor force will also rise. According to AARP, by 2012 about 20 percent of workers in the United States will be 55 years and older, compared to just 12 percent in 1992. As the percentage of younger workers decreases, employers will seek out more mature and experienced employees. Thus, the importance of older workers in the labor force becomes even more critical in the future, said Lynette Chappell-Williams, director of the office of workforce diversity, equity and life quality.

“As more individuals are choosing to delay retirement, these figures mean that our workforce will be composed of a high percentage of older workers,” she said. “-[W]e will need to focus our recruitment and retention strategies on this valuable segment of our workforce.”

Chappell-Williams said that the University will continue to address the needs of its workers over 50 in the future, particularly in the areas of health care and retirement benefits and flexible work arrangements.

“We will continue to benchmark our efforts as compared with other organizations and with research to understand what the needs are nationally and how that relates to what our employees over 50 need,” she stated in an e-mail. “With that information, we will continue to work to implement programs that are economically feasible.”

Corporations and organizations submitted an application to the AARP explaining their practices and policies regarding older workers.

These applications were reviewed by a consulting firm, as well as expert judges. AARP received 145 applications this year, from which they honored the top 50.

Chappell-Williams and Opperman will accept the award on behalf of the University on Sept. 22 at the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Other companies and organizations honored with top awards by the AARP include Stanley Consultants, Inc. in Muscatine, Iowa, Scripps Health in San Diego, Calif., Bon Secours Richmond Health System in Richmond, Va., Deer & Company in Moline, Ill., the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., First Horizon National Corporation in Memphis, Tenn., Brevard Public Schools in Viera, Fl. and Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Conn.

Archived article by Olivia Oran
Sun Staff Writer