Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 8, 2015)
Here are some of the reasons why CAA South Central Ontario was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- CAA South Central Ontario recognizes exceptional employee performance and dedication through a number of different programs, including the Applause Program, long-service awards and the President's Award, awarded to employees who consistently exhibit high levels of performance excellence -- recipients of the President's award participate in an awards luncheon, receive a paid day off and a company donation to the charity of their choice
- CAA South Central Ontario invests in ongoing employee development through tuition subsidies for courses taken at outside institutions (to $2,500) and reaches out to the next generation through summer student, co-op and paid internship opportunities
- CAA South Central Ontario is an active member of the community and maintains a charitable focus on traffic safety, the environment, health and wellness, consumer protection and community programs -- additionally, the organization encourages employee volunteerism and matches volunteer hours with company donations of $200 for every 35 hours
Evolving CAA looks for an innovative spirit
Daniel Howse may be a bit of a poster boy for how CAA South Central Ontario (CAA SCO) is expanding and evolving.
At the moment, Howse works out of the 2-million-member auto club's headquarters in Thornhill, Ont., selling vehicle and home insurance. But as it happens, he recently bought a home in Port Hope. That's when he learned he'd be able to work in the nearby Cobourg CAA store, one of 34 in the CAA SCO region.
"We are looking to include insurance agents in more of our stores," says Mary Duncan, Vice President, Human Resources. "The stores are moving from being primarily a travel store to more of a retail store so it will be all-encompassing for member needs."
Then, too, Howse is young. CAA is keen to recruit younger associates who in turn can help attract younger members, thereby refreshing the 50-something demographic that is its largest component, says Duncan. "We are looking for an innovative spirit."
All of which suits Howse, who joined in 2012 and enjoys being in sales. "I love having targets, and the incentives for going above target keep you refreshed," he says. "And even though you're working as part of the CAA team, you're almost your own boss. You get out of it what you put in."
He also likes the service-oriented culture. "We really do care about the members," he says. "It's not just about the top dollar. And the environment is open for success. If you come in to further an insurance career or a sales career, they have your back. It's a supportive community."
Duncan says the variety of services CAA provides means it needs a lot of different skills. It has travel agents, call centre personnel, insurance underwriters and adjusters, finance professionals, IT people and corporate functions, as well as the sales team Howse is a part of. In addition, CAA now sells its own travel medical insurance through another team.
"We are looking for highly skilled professionals who are looking for a place where they can fulfill all their career aspirations, yet work for a company that cares about others," says Duncan.
For those working in stores, a refreshed CAA outlet in Burlington shows the future. "It's much more of an open environment, more self-serve, more technology for young people," Duncan says. "But it still gives a very homey CAA feeling." CAA SCO's region extends from Sault St. Marie to Kingston, and southwest to Windsor. Other parts of Ontario are served by sister clubs CAA Niagara and CAA North and West.
A pilot project for the CAA SCO call centre may offer the ultimate in work-life balance. Some 50 employees have been set up with all the equipment they need to handle calls from home full-time. "They're really embracing this," Duncan says.
Other employees also have work-from-home and other flexibility options. A notable benefit at CAA is the bonus week of vacation associates get at every fifth year of employment, in addition to their regular time off that year. And not surprisingly, everyone gets free membership in CAA.
Annually, CAA holds an associates appreciation week, with a slate of activities - from games and barbecues to executive visits to the stores - designed to thank associates for their hard work. "It speaks volumes about the type of culture we have," says Duncan.
That culture is highly collaborative, and very member-driven, she says. "CAA has the heart of an association but the mind of a business."
This article appeared in the magazine announcing this year's Greater Toronto's Top Employers winners, published December 8, 2015 in The Globe and Mail. This article was prepared with the financial support of the employer, which did not write or edit its contents.