Three in a Row: Pitt Is Named One of Top U.S. Employers for Workers Older Than 50

Issue Date: 
July 2, 2013

Participants file into the conference room on the third floor of the University of Pittsburgh’s Craig Hall. As they take their seats, the workshop leader presents a graph, based on a survey the participants filled out before the session, which shows the generational makeup of the group. Then the workshop begins with a brief lecture, continues with small-group discussions and the viewing of a DVD, and concludes with the participants working through a number of hypothetical scenarios together.

The workshop, titled “Please Respect My Generation,” is dedicated to fostering mutual respect, communication, and cooperation among the different generations of University employees and is offered each spring and fall through Human Resources’ Faculty and Staff Development Program as part of its Diversity Track.

Now in its third year, the workshop has received an overwhelmingly positive response from participants—as well as recognition outside the University. It is among the reasons that the AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management recently named the University of Pittsburgh one of the 2013 Best Employers for Workers Over 50.

Pitt joins a nationwide diverse group of 50 employer honorees, including health systems, corporations, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations. The University is among the top four public universities on the list. It’s the third consecutive time that Pitt has been recognized on the list.

“Please Respect My Generation” is just one facet of Pitt’s efforts to support its employees, said Ronald W. Frisch, associate vice chancellor for Pitt’s Office of Human Resources. In addition to mentioning the workshop, Frisch cited the benefits and health insurance package Pitt offers retirees, the educational perquisites offered to employees of all ages, workshops on gender and racial equality, and Pitt’s overall respectful workplace as factors that contributed to the AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management naming the University one of the nation’s best employers for those older than 50.

“It is an honor to be part of this community and to recognize all of our employees, especially our colleagues who are 50-plus, as well as our retired faculty and staff, who continue to remain vested in the University and its programs,” said Frisch. “Our 50-plus community is a valued asset.”

Frisch also noted that the average age of Pitt staff members is approximately 47 years old, meaning a significant percentage of the University’s workforce comprises those 50 or older. That makes it vitally important to support these workers, Frisch said.

The “Please Respect My Generation” workshop’s goals of mutual respect and cooperation are in keeping with Pitt’s standard of valuing, and being inclusive in all aspects of diversity in the University’s academic and working communities, commented workshop leader Warren McCoy, diversity specialist in Pitt’s Office of Affirmative Action, Diversity, and Inclusion within Human Resources.

“Respecting and engaging individuals of all age groups is a commitment of the University’s leadership, faculty, staff, and students,” McCoy said. “We believe as we heighten the awareness and the importance of motivating individuals in different generational groups from ourselves, we may improve the probability of working together most effectively.”

Added Frisch, “I’m excited that the AARP and the Society for Human Resource Management have encouraged our organizations to become excited and interested in these kinds of programs. We see people coming into the workforce at an older age and staying in the workforce longer than ever before. People working longer and significantly providing value is indicative of the labor market, especially in the higher education sector. Higher education has capitalized on the reality that our community is as valuable to us in our senior years as it is in our younger years.”