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Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association Nationally Recognized by BusinessWeek and AARP for Creating a Unique Workplace Environment for New and Mature Employees

CHICAGO, Sept. 25 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) was recently recognized, separately, by AARP and BusinessWeek for developing a workplace culture that supports the careers of new employees and encourages the continued development of mature workers.

BusinessWeek magazine named BCBSA as one of the "Best Places to Launch a Career" and AARP recognized BCBSA as a 2007 recipient of the "AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50" designation.

BusinessWeek "Best Places to Launch a Career"

The second annual edition of BusinessWeek's "Best Places to Launch a Career" list, ranks the country's best entry-level employers in categories including internships, recruiting, pay and benefits, training and future returns. BCBSA was ranked 71st among 95 nationally recognized employers including Deloitte & Touche, Google, UPS and Johnson & Johnson.

Finalists were determined based on data from three surveys. Career- services directors at approximately 100 large public and private colleges, from liberal arts to engineering schools, were asked to identify top employers for entry-level workers from 12 industries.

In addition, more than 37,000 undergraduates in every academic discipline at more than 200 U.S. colleges and universities were asked to rank the top employers they would most like to work for. Finally, employers eligible for the final ranking were asked to submit detailed survey information on recruiting, pay, benefits training and mentoring programs, retention and advancement.

In its sixth year, the BCBSA internship program draws students from top colleges and universities in the Chicago and Washington, D.C., areas. This year, 20 candidates participated in the program and worked on project and team-oriented assignments, were provided training and feedback on their performance, attended "lunch and learn" sessions with management, and performed group presentation progress reports to BCBSA employees.

According to BusinessWeek, 70 percent of new entry-level hires at BCBSA are women, and 56 percent are minorities.

"BusinessWeek's recognition validates the hard work the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association puts into its summer college internship program as well as our commitment to best-in-class recruiting, pay, benefits and other human resources initiatives," said William J. Colbourne, BCBSA's senior vice president, human resources and administrative resources.

AARP "Best Employers for Workers Over 50"

As a 2007 recipient of the "AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50" award, BCBSA is recognized for its innovative practices and policies that address the aging work force. This year's award lists 50 companies from a wide variety of industries, including organizations such as SC Johnson, University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, and Volkswagen of America, Inc. (

"Receiving recognition by AARP is a great honor and affirms our continuing efforts to create an environment that reflects the work-life needs of our employees over the age of 50," said Colbourne.

When selecting employers for this recognition program, AARP evaluates companies on their recruiting methods, benefits and available opportunities for retirees. For the first time, AARP included an employee survey as part of the judging process.

"AARP is proud to honor the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association as an AARP 2007 Best Employer for their dedication to address changing workforce demographics, and we commend them for their commitment to workers age 50 and older," said Bob Gallo, AARP Illinois state director. "Employers that take a world-class approach in their policies toward workers who are 50 and over understand that the result is more productive employees -- and that's just what BCBSA has done."

Currently, 37 percent of the BCBSA staff is over the age of 50, with 21 percent over 55. Through BCBSA's "Mature Employee Retention Program," the following resources and services are available to staff over the age of 50:

-- "Fit Over Fifty" health-related information systems (50+)

-- Tuition reimbursement for special interest classes (55+)

-- Pre-retirement planning seminars (55+)

-- Free flu shots (55+)

-- Half price financial planning

-- "Lessons of Experience" retirement planning brochures

BCBSA's "Mature Employee Retention Program" also received AARP's Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation in Training and Development for its efforts in successfully implementing innovative learning opportunities for workers over 50. This award is in recognition of Bernard E. Nash, the executive director of AARP from 1969 to 1975. BCBSA was one of four companies to receive a 2007 Bernard E. Nash Award for Innovation.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association is a national federation of 39 independent, community-based and locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies that collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 99 million individuals -- nearly one-in-three of all Americans. For more information on the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association and its member companies, please visit

SOURCE Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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