Any hiring is presumed to be “at will”; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all,” and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.[wiki footnote]
The “at-will” rule has its genesis in a rule in Horace Gray Wood’s 1877 treatise on master-servant relations. Wood cited four U.S. cases as authority for his rule that when a hiring was indefinite, the burden of proof was on the servant to prove that an indefinite employment term was for one year. Please see wikipedia.org for additional information.
Well, if you’ve ever felt like you were a servant (or slave) to your company, the above surely will make you feel worse. On the positive side, such employment law does allow companies to treat employees as variable rather than fixed costs. So, they can easily restructure (lay off) operations when times are tough.
With the above in mind, older employees should try to work at companies more conducive to ethical work practices. The list below of Best Employers for Workers over 50 is sourced from AARP.org, September 2011.
So, why are we highlighting this list in a Socially Responsible website. Well, it stands to reason that companies who treat employees well also treat other stakeholders well. These “emotionally intelligent companies” often are more open minded – seeking outside opinions before making drastic decisions.
Prospective employers essentially submit a detailed application to AARP that include questions for screening companies. AARP considers HR policies/practices such as worker training, recruiting, and health & pension benefits. Applications are evaluated by an independent survey firm, and later to a panel of judges. We were pleasantly surprised that AARP disclosed background information on the judges link.
AARP’s methodology is similar to National Association of Female Executive’s (NAFE). As such, we note some negatives:
- Prospective employers are pushed to AARP via a self initiated application process, and not pulled in by an active approach
- Prospects (and thereby chosen companies) are in similar industry fields (i.e, healthcare)
- Prospects’ human resources policies/practices are not required to be dedicated solely towards older employees. Note that this is not the case in terms of working mothers policies/practices, which have become more developed over the years.
Interesting Findings about the list:
- Despite the great strides made by socially responsible stalwarts, the truth is, socially responsible companies were overwhelmingly privately-owned on this list. Blue Chip public companies were nearly non-existent.
- Most were healthcare companies. Privately-owned healthcare companies were the highest proportion we have ever seen. Well, leave it to a healthcare company to recognize how important this benefit is to older employees.
- However, reviewing previous lists going back to 2002 reveals that the trend of private and/or healthcare cos has grown steadily. Just when the first “baby boomers” are reaching 65, it appears that conventional publicly-owned companies such as Deere & Co. are no longer appearing on the list.
- Universities also were well represented in the list
AARP also created a “short-list” for older workers, the International version, which did include some well known corporations such as BMW, Centrica, Daikin, DSW21, Marks & Spencer and National Australia Bank.
Best Employers for Workers Over 50
2011 Winners (U.S. list).
7. Atlantic Health System
8. Mercy Health System
9. Bon Secours Richmond Health System
10. The Aerospace Corporation
11. WellStar Health System
12. MidMichigan Health
13. City of Glendale, Arizona
14. Massachusetts General Hospital
15. Pinnacol Assurance
16. Stanley Consultants
42. S&T Bank
44. West Virginia University Hospitals
45. Eastern National
46. Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center
48. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
49. San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind