Workplace wellness in action: CAA Club Group

Mary Duncan, Chief Human Resources Officer, CCG

bh in Brief

For over 110 years, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has been helping Canadians stay safe, mobile, and protected. In 2016, two clubs, CAA South Central Ontario and CAA Manitoba, merged and are now known as the CAA Club Group of companies (CCG). CCG is Canada’s largest not-for-profit automobile association with more than two million members in South Central Ontario and 200,000 members in Manitoba. CCG operates out of head offices in Thornhill, Ontario and Winnipeg, Manitoba, and has over 1,400 employees across all locations, including 35 retail locations in South Central Ontario. 

“Obsessed with Member Safety”

 “… champions … drive home the value of your program”



Effective workplace wellness programs are comprehensive, well-planned, and designed to achieve long-term goals. With the aim of improving the health of both employees and their organization, wellness programs provide opportunities for change and growth. A case in point is the wellness program launched at CAA Club Group (CCG) in Thornhill in 2014 and described for bh by Mary Duncan, CCG’s chief human resources officer (CHRO).* 

CCG launched their wellness program to be proactive with their Associates. “Our wellness program is an investment in the well-being of our Associates,” says Duncan. In addition to providing gains from lower disability costs, higher productivity of a healthier workforce, and increased engagement, the program also serves as a great attraction and retention tool. “Our program,” adds Duncan, “is for all Associates, not just executives/management. It is positive and giving back. It is very rewarding to know you work for a company that cares about how “you” are and works with “you” to be the best, mentally, emotionally and physically.”

How the program operates

CCG’s program is supported by a Wellness Committee that oversees the program and meets monthly to discuss ongoing campaigns and encourage participation by employees across the organization. A Wellness Consultant is on site three days a week. She leads classes and stretch breaks for Associates at the office and for Work from Home Associates as well. She is also available for nutrition or fitness consultations and is a general resource for the program.                   

How the program got started

At the outset, to focus their planning, CCG developed a wellness mission, identified four pillars of wellness, set goals and objectives, and established criteria for measuring outcomes. 

The mission

CCG’s wellness mission has remained unchanged over time: “Be Present, Be Engaged in Your Life: at home and at work!” It is accompanied by four pillars of wellness:

  • Health
  • Mental Health
  • Financial Health 
  • Safety

These four pillars give structure to both program operations and efforts to measure its outcomes.

Wellness goals and objectives

CCGs goals and objectives are more specific than their mission and help target activities. Goals adopted at the outset are still valid more than three years later:

  1. Provide resources and activities to heighten awareness around healthy lifestyle choices, including fitness, weight management/nutrition, stress management and work/life.
  2. Promote a culture of wellness where Associates feel supported to achieve their personal health and wellness goals.
  3. Integrate wellness into the work environment ensuring programs reach satellite locations and retail stores and meet organizational goals.

The outcomes 

Although it may be several years before the full effects of various wellness initiatives are known, some are almost immediately obvious. According to Duncan, “The most important outcomes are the number of Associates engaged in events. For example, this summer, CCG supported dragon boat racing. Two teams of CCG Associates practiced throughout the summer months and a team competed in a tournament in Dundas, Ontario, coming back with some medals. In-house classes led by our Wellness Consultant are usually close to capacity.” 

CCG has also seen a reduction in absenteeism. Research reported in 2016, just three years into the program, shows an impressive return on investment (ROI) for all four wellness pillars: 

  • Health –

    • A 25% decrease in the quantity of drugs used to treat diabetes.
    • A 47% decrease in sick and disability days.


  • Mental Health – 

    • A 75% decrease in the number of participants in a meditation survey who felt highly stressed.
    • A 28% decrease in days lost to mental health for Associates on disability. 


  • Financial Health –

    • 42% of Associates now make their maximum DC pension contribution, following yearly increases.


  • Safety – 

    • A 30% decrease in accidents.
    • A 36.4% decrease in Associate slips, trips and falls.

Key to success

At CCG, wellness is clearly NOT taken for granted. It is top of mind. Duncan’s advice to other organizations: “Don’t be afraid to start small. Try many activities. Take baby steps. Have champions who consistently drive home the value of your program.” When asked to describe the success of CCG’s wellness program, Duncan replied, “It’s “part of our fabric.” Over time, “it is something that has continued and is part of our budget like other revenue-generating tools.  It is no longer just events sprinkled throughout the year, but a process that we actively work on to refine to an optimum state.”

When wellness programs are on target, they can lead to change and better health for everyone. bh

* With additional details from a blog by Veronica Marsden, Employee Wellness Program Success Story – CAA Club Group, May 22, 2018.


Categories: Bottom Line