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Success Stories:

Weyerhaeuser, the international forest products company and one of the largest employers in Western Washington, is a leader in assessing and addressing the needs of older workers.

“This is a very important topic for Weyerhaeuser as the percentage of older workers in our workforce increases and many are approaching retirement age”, says Sally Hass, Weyerhaeuser’s Benefits Education Manager and a recipient of the Benny Award for Retirement Planning.

Weyerhaeuser recognizes that the old definitions of retirement are changing and the company provides an innovative retirement education program for employees age 50 + and their spouses or partners.  The two and a half day program is held once a month at Weyerhaeuser’s headquarters and also given periodically at satellite locations.  Over 5000 employees attended just last year.

The program presents a wide range of topics to help employees look ahead and consider a retirement that will, in many cases, continue to incorporate work.  Among the presentations:

  • Myths about aging are debunked by a gerontologist
  • Finding your passion is discussed by a consultant from Plus 50
  • Financial planning segments cover company and social security benefits
  • Health maintenance information is included  and much more

One worker in response to a survey about the program said “It made me feel that Weyerhaeuser cared about our future.”

In addition to retirement planning and education, Weyerhaeuser has initiated a number of other practices to meet the needs of older workers:

  • Access to post-retirement healthcare coverage
  • Flexible work arrangements including job sharing and the ability to work reduced hours
  • Post-retirement work options as an employee, contractor, or through a third party agency
  • Web casts on financial planning

An exciting new development championed by Sally Hass is a pilot program called “Gray Matters.”  A group of employees has been selected to provide input on such questions as:

  • What can the company do to have you to work longer for us?
  • What retirement information do you need and at what point is it most helpful?
  • Would a post-retirement “emeritus” role be of interest and what would it look like?

Weyerhaeuser’s best practices have been nationally recognized by AARP, Fannie Mae and many others.  These practices can now inform and inspire other companies considering ways to expand the employment of older, experienced workers in our workforce.   

 

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