Iowa Engineering Firm Captures AARP Best Employer Honor

August 31, 2005 ( - A Muscatine, Iowa-based engineering firm topped AARP's 2005 list of the top 50 American companies for workers 50 and older.

The willingness of Stanley Consultants to ignore age and focus on knowledge is one reason for its final showing in the annual AARP list, according to a MarketWatch news report. Other reasons include the company’s flexible schedule for workers of all ages, a 401(k) plan to which the company contributes even if employees do not and free health benefits for workers (dependents pay a partial premium). Another benefit: Phased retirement, where workers shift to shorter work weeks slowly.

Stanley Consultants hired almost 200 people in the past year – more than one-third over 40. The company now employs about 900, some of whom have been with the company for 30 years, according to the report.

More than one-third of the companies on AARP’s list offer phased retirement and they tend to employ a fair percentage of older workers. On average, about one-third of workers at the top 10 firms on the list are 50 and older, said Deborah Russell, director of economic security at AARP, according to the MarketWatch report.

This year, 148 companies applied to be on the list, about double the number of companies who applied last year, according to the news report. Health-care companies tend to have a strong showing among the applicants, as do higher-education entities, both of which are among industries facing labor shortages.

Companies interested in being considered for the list fill out an application, including a detailed questionnaire. Their answers are weighed and judged, and each company is vetted by AARP.

A flexible approach to schedules and retirement is also a benefit at Scripps Health. The San Diego-based nonprofit network of hospitals and other health services placed second on the AARP 2005 list.

At Scripps, flexible schedules are the norm, and long-tenured workers enjoy a gradual increase in retirement-plan matches from the company. For instance, a worker with 20 years’ service who contributes 3% of salary to the retirement plan receives a 6% match, compared with the 3% match received by workers with five years’ service.

The full list of firms is here .