CAAT Pension Plan focuses on wellness

Jennifer Goerz-Schuldt, workplace wellness specialist at the CAAT Pension Plan, spoke with Sarah Dobson, editor of the Canadian HR Reporter group, to discuss her organization’s wellness initiatives, which focus on mental, physical and financial health.

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Sarah: [00:00:14] Hi there. I'm Sarah Dobson, editor of the Canadian HR Reporter Group. And joining us today is Jennifer Goerz-Schuldt, who is a workplace wellness specialist at the CAAT Pension Plan, which was one of the winners of the Five Star Rewards and Recognition for 2022. So welcome. Thank you. So, yeah, so you're joining us to talk about some of the wellness initiatives at your organization. And to start, can you talk a bit about your role, which was, I understand, created in 2018? So how has that evolved?

Jennifer: [00:00:48] Absolutely. So when the role first started, as you mentioned, it was 2018. So pre-pandemic times and wellness was just starting to come to the forefront of what organizations should be considering for their employees. Our program programming evolved into a three pronged approach, which includes our three pillars of wellness. And these are mental wellness, physical wellness and financial wellness. Now, physical wellness might be the first and most obvious connotation when you think of wellness, but even at that time, we knew that mental wellness was a vital component of our overall health and well-being in an area that we really wanted to ensure that we were supporting our employees in and being a pension plan as well. It's also important to ensure that our employees have the financial tools that they need for success. So as a defined benefit plan, we can provide a guaranteed lifetime pension for our members. So again, the emphasis and importance of financial wellness being tied to our overall wellness and these pillars have really continued to become more solidified in our programming over time. And we've received a lot of really great buy in and support from both the organizational leaders and from staff in general. It's the fact that CAAT was considering wellness as a vital part of our employee experience before it even became industry standard. It's something that I'm truly proud of, and one of the many reasons why CAAT is a great place to work.

Sarah: [00:02:13] Perfect. That sounds great. Well, can you talk a bit more about the COVID 19 pandemic, how CAAT responded, and some of the ways that you were able to support your staff from a wellness perspective?

Jennifer: [00:02:26] Of course, we had to change from being fully in-person environment to a total remote setting, and fortunately we had the tools and technology to do this and we're able to adapt fairly quickly. But in doing so, we wanted to ensure that we were providing wellness programs that were actually meaningful and relevant to our staff and what they were experiencing. So some of the programs we were able to introduce included our Wellness Wednesdays, in which we have our ten minute wellness break. It's scheduled in our calendars. We know that we take an intentional moment to pause in for meditation, and in that session we utilize the home app. And this is also another offering that we provide our employees. We introduced it as a result of the pandemic. So any CAAT store who wants access to this app, we can provide that membership for them. And we've also been very fortunate to hold a number of sessions in the area of mental wellness. We've had speakers including Clara Hughes, Hayley Wickenheiser, we've had representatives from Cam and even our employee and family assistant provider. So we've had a lot of opportunities there. We've also done music therapy sessions with the Canadian Music Therapy Fund, and that was a lot of fun and really focused on the creative side of our brains and staff really enjoyed that. In terms of physical wellness from the beginning, we were able to offer our staff an ergonomic benefit, knowing that when we first transitioned to working from home, many of us were not equipped with the workplaces that we would have had we been in the office. So we wanted to ensure we were providing staff with an ergonomic equipment and options that were actually relevant to them so that they can work from home safely. And then we have from the financial wellness perspective, we had some sessions from the CPA and we've also had in session sessions on the value of our very own CAAT DB pension. So we're very excited that we were able to offer all of these offerings. And then at the beginning of this year we further were able to expand on that and provide more options for our wellness incentive. So beyond just gym membership, as they may have been provided previously, they can now choose from other options of their choosing because we know that their wellness expands beyond just the physical domain.

Sarah: [00:04:48] Wow. That's a lot of great offerings and support. Very impressive. So how do you see your role as an integral part of the overall rewards and recognition at CAAT?

Jennifer: [00:05:00] So my role is part of the larger rewards and recognition because it reflects our one team approach. We really want to ensure that we're working as a team no matter what it is. When we transition to working remotely during the pandemic, we did it as one team. When we are working from home. During these times it was one team and as we are planning to return to the office in a post-pandemic hybrid world or doing so as one team, so it's really that united approach. We really live by our values, which are teamwork, integrity and impact. We do that on a daily basis. Here at CAAT. We know, we know employees wellness and rewards and recognition are such a huge part of why workers choose to join and stay with an organization. And people have a lot of options to choose from these days. So part of our rewards and recognition role is ensuring that our staff are really feeling valued for the work and efforts that they bring to the table. We also like to have some fun and make meaningful connections along the way as well. So as cliché as it may sound, CAAT's culture is truly what makes us stand out, and it's something that I truly value as an employee myself. So whether it's peer to peer recognition through a great job program or monthly celebrations or organization wide events, it's really those connections that make this meaningful to the employee experience. And again, why CAAT is such an amazing place to work.

Sarah: [00:06:24] Wonderful. Well, that's great. Well, thank you so much for sharing. Definitely sounds like you guys are on top of the whole wellness movement and doing a lot of great things in that area. So thank you again and congratulations on being a winner.

Jennifer: [00:06:39] Thank you so much for having me.