Ahead of the Curve

Posted Wednesday, February 19th, 2014| Comments (2) rule
Four companies set the pace for age-friendly workplace practices

Ruth Finkelstein, ScD

Senior Vice President for Policy and Planning
The New York Academy of Medicine

Email: rfinkelstein@nyam.org

The New York Academy of Medicine announced the winners of the inaugural Age Smart Employer Awards on February 6. This award program—described in this space last April—honor New York City employers who value workers of all ages. The Age Smart Employer Awards is an initiative of the New York Academy of Medicine and is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The four exemplary winners represent different strengths in Age Smart policies and practices, as well as different sectors, workplace sizes, and boroughs. These organizations are industry leaders ahead of the curve. Let me tell you why the Age Smart Selection Committee chose them.

Montefiore Medical Center, a nationally recognized 1,490-bed health care delivery system in the Bronx, treats more than 90,000 inpatients and employs more than 20,000 people. Montefiore was selected because of the sheer number of its Age Smart practices, combined with particularly exemplary management training regarding the multigenerational work force. Specifically, the hospital’s administrators partner with union leaders to train staff in cultural diversity, including education on how to manage four generations in the workplace. Montefiore also prepares its associates for a “good” retirement and offers reduced work schedules, assignment to special projects, and other strategies to help older workers’ transition into retirement. The hospital also invests in training and development of all workers across all phases of their careers. One example is a six-month program—“School at Work”—that helps associates from ancillary departments learn core health care skills, enabling them to return to school and enter new health care professions.

Pfizer, a global biopharmaceutical company, has 79,000 employees worldwide—more than 3,000 of them in New York City. Pfizer’s “Get Old” campaign challenges and redefines what growing old means and promotes healthy aging in the context of brand and product advertising messages. The company has brought the campaign’s principles into the workplace, engaging employees with comprehensive wellness programs and offering health condition management practices that take into account the unique challenges of aging. Pfizer also has strong mentorship programs and leads in caregiver support programs. For example, Pfizer encourages caregiver-friendly business polices through its cosponsorship of ReACT (Respect a Caregiver’s Time), a multicompany leadership initiative that helps employers understand the difficulties of being a working caregiver. Pfizer’s Mentor Match, another Age Smart practice, connects employees by enabling mentor-mentee partnerships among thousands of employees of all ages and experience levels.

Ristorante Settepani & Settepani Bakery employs 50 people at its two locations in Harlem and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Settepani, like many small businesses, operates more from its owners’ hearts than from a corporate procedures manual. The company’s salient Age Smart employment practice is commitment to treating employees as family, embracing their talents, interests, and aspirations. At Settepani, all employees receive continual training to keep their skills current, with a special focus on new technologies that can have a big impact on the bottom line. The company cross-trains all incoming staff and provides multiple training formats to accommodate workers’ needs.

Renewal Care Partners provides long-term care for people living with chronic and acute health conditions. Based in New York City, the organization has a staff of more than 100. Renewal Care Partners excels in recruiting, training, and using insights from older workers in their roles as caregivers. For example, through robust partnerships with community-based organizations, the organization identifies older adults uniquely qualified to work with older clients. Additionally, it offers external training opportunities and encourages staff to take on greater leadership roles.

This first group of Age Smart Employer winners exemplifies the central tenet of the award: Age Smart policies and practices are good for business, good for employees, and good for the community. I invite you to learn more about the winners by viewing their videos and profiles. Each winner is an industry leader and we are eager for their peers to follow.


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2 responses to “Ahead of the Curve”

  1. Rachel Voigt says:

    It’s like each winner has their own teaching technique for students.

  2. Heidi Kehren says:

    I really loved reading this article.Especially the fact that all of these companies are embracing their employees not only with age but with training to keep the older folks up to date with technology and new things that are going on in the medical field.