CAA shares journey to a healthy workplace

When it comes to encouraging health and wellness, CAA doesn’t hold back.

“We’re obsessed with members’ safety,” said Mara Notarfonzo, the assistant vice-president of compensation and benefits at CAA Club Group, during her presentation at Benefits Canada‘s 2018 Healthy Outcomes conference in Toronto.

While it offered wellness programs in the past, CAA launched a more holistic health strategy four years ago. Despite having a modest budget, its programs have grown significantly since then. From a wellness consultant available on-site three days a week to organized trips to grocery stores to meet with a nutritionist, the organization aims to provide employees with actionable information they can apply both at the office and at home.

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Notarfonzo emphasized that addressing health and wellness shouldn’t involve a one-size-fits-all approach. Recognizing that each of its 2,000 employees is different, CAA offers them a variety of programs to choose from to help them reach their personal goals.

Last year, the company began encouraging staff to take a bit of time each day to recharge. The activities also incorporated team bonding by, for example, purchasing large versions of classic board games for the office. In addition, the organization offered free 15-minute on-site massages once a week to help employees relieve stress.

Through its efforts, CAA has discovered it can reach more employees through challenges that include prizes and introducing new activities. For example, it has decided to sponsor employees at an upcoming dragon boat race.

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Since implementing its wellness program, CAA has seen a decrease in physical disability claims and an overall drop in the lengths of leaves of absence. In addition, it has seen fewer slips, trips and falls.

But CAA also looks beyond physical health. Its focus for 2017 was financial wellness and this year, it will concentrate on mental health.

While physical disability claims have declined, those related to mental health have risen, according to Notarfonzo. With that in mind, CAA hopes to encourage more conversations about mental health, beginning with a workplace mental-health leadership program for leaders. The organization is also working on information and awareness aimed at boosting employees’ resiliency and coping skills.

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As part of its wellness focus, CAA has sponsored two Olympians who visit the premises to talk with employees about well-being. Other on-site options include meditation, mindfulness and laughing yoga.

Read more coverage from the 2018 Healthy Outcomes conference.