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Best Employers Award for 50-Plus Canadians™ (BEA)

Toronto, Ontario, November 5, 2008 – Five companies from across Canada received a Best Employers Award for 50-Plus Canadians™ (BEA) today during the fourth annual Summit on the Mature Workforce.

An independent panel of judges from various sectors and regions across Canada assessed applicants in the areas of career development, retention, recruitment, workplace culture/practices, benefits, management practices, health support, retirement/retiree practices, pension and/or recognition.

This year’s winners are:

Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto (CCAS), one of Canada’s largest child protection agencies, has been awarded a fourth consecutive BEA for evolving retiree practices that reflect the new face of retirement. Building on the organization’s comprehensive approach to wellness and work-life balance for its 50-plus workers and an excellent recognition program, the agency is further developing its pre-retirement program offerings, including a new mentorship program that allows former employees to return as mentors to help those who are beginning to make plans for the transition to their own retirement. CCAS also continues to be a leader in benefits and health practices.

HSBC Bank Canada, Canada’s seventh-largest bank and an integrated financial services organization, won its second BEA for outstanding workforce planning initiatives and ground-breaking policies regarding retention, benefits, pensions and retirement issues. Innovations this year took the form of pension formula enhancements for post-65 employment and the inception of a return to work policy for retirees, enabling both contract work and regular employment with all associated benefits. This technically challenging policy required the consideration of multiple legal stakeholders across several jurisdictions. HSBC Bank Canada is helping to change the employment landscape as mandatory retirement rules are dissolved.

Seven Oaks General Hospital (SOGH) in Winnipeg, is a leader among community health centers for its approach to holistic care, healing and wellness, won a repeat BEA
for its continuous efforts to promote and support the health of its own employees, not just the patients it serves. Facing a competitive health services labour market, SOGH is embarking on a project to improve its outstanding retention practices related to retirement planning, succession, and re-engagement of a pool of already retired health care professionals at the hospital. It is also developing a series of flexible retirement measures and incentives to keep potential retirees engaged and in the workforce.

Wal-Mart Canada, the retail giant, won a second BEA for its new Progressive Retirement Services initiative which aims to develop work-life flexibility options to meet both associates’ needs and the company’s business needs. The goal is to engage, attract and retain the qualified and knowledgeable boomer and senior associates and to develop a “Bridge to Retirement” process to assist them along the retirement journey of their choice. Wal-Mart has also created exceptional recognition programs and a workplace culture that supports a diverse workforce of all ages.

Bethany Care Society. New to the BEA winner’s circle this year for recruitment, retention and flexible workplace practices, Bethany is one of Western Canada’s largest not-for-profit providers of health, housing and support for seniors and persons with disabilities. Bethany has systematically overhauled programs to focus more on the needs of current and potential 50-plus workers, now more than a third of its workforce. One innovative example is flexible matching benefits programs that allow employees to invest employer contributions in retirement savings plans or cash them in. Full benefits are offered to part-time employees, and most benefits are extended beyond age 65.

"These five winners stood out from the rest with their innovative approaches to retirement, management practices and attracting and retaining mature workers,” says Workplace Institute’s Barbara Jaworski, founder of the awards and author of KAA-BOOM! How to Engage the 50-Plus Worker and Beat the Workforce Crisis. She sees encouraging trends in this year’s results, with all but one organization a repeat winner. “The engagement model works. These leaders use the knowledge gained from in-house surveys to adapt workforce strategies to better engage mature workers. The added bonus is that flexible policies aimed at 50-plus workers often remove barriers and benefit all employees, helping create an age-free workplace. That’s a big win in the war for talent.”

The judging panel for this year’s awards were: Don Fast, Deputy Minister, Economic Development; Dan Kelly, Senior Vice-President, Canadian Federation of Independent Business; Leroy Stone, Associate Director-General, Statistics Canada and Adjunct Professor, University of Montreal; Paul Thompson, Associate Deputy Minister, Workplace Skills, Human Resources and Social Development Canada; Kevin French, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ontario Ministry of Colleges, Training and Universities; Shannon Marchand, Assistant Deputy Minister, Alberta Ministry of Employment and Immigration and George Gritziotis, Executive Director, Construction Sector Council.
The Best Employer Awards for 50-Plus Canadians are open to all Canadian companies with more than 10 employees. Winners were selected based on an application and in-depth interview. Criteria for the awards are excellence in the areas of career development, retention, recruitment, workplace culture/practices, management practices, health support, retirement/retiree practices, benefits, pension and/or recognition.

About The Workplace Institute is a Centre of Excellence for older worker/aging workforce information and customized solutions for an intergenerational workforce. We provide consulting, research development, training and education on the most pressing issues faced by employers and workers. The Workplace Institute's official website:

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