Employee health takes a multilayered approach at AAA Northeast

PROTECTING CHILDREN: AAA Northeast recently donated $5,000 to the R.I. State Police’s Community, Equity and Inclusion Unit to purchase child vehicle seats and perform outreach in underserved communities. Pictured back row from left, R.I. State Police Trooper Roupen Bastijian, Sgt. Wesley Pennington and Capt. Kenneth Jones. Pictured front row from left, AAA Senior Traffic Safety Manager Diana Gugliotta and public affairs specialists Cassidy Duble O’Connor and Joanna Frageorgia.
COURTESY AAA NORTHEAST

PROTECTING CHILDREN: AAA Northeast recently donated $5,000 to the R.I. State Police’s Community, Equity and Inclusion Unit to purchase child vehicle seats and perform outreach in underserved communities. Pictured back row from left, R.I. State Police Trooper Roupen Bastijian, Sgt. Wesley Pennington and Capt. Kenneth Jones. Pictured front row from left, AAA Senior Traffic Safety Manager Diana Gugliotta and public affairs specialists Cassidy Duble O’Connor and Joanna Frageorgia.
COURTESY AAA NORTHEAST


PBN Healthiest Employers Awards 2022
1,500-4,999 EMPLOYEES
1. AAA Northeast
CEO (or equivalent): John Galvin, CEO and president
Number of employees: 2,909


Two and a half years into the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to feel the worst is over. Its lingering effects, however, cast a long shadow.

“We’re continuing to manage the impacts,” said Ron Arigo, AAA Northeast senior vice president of human resources. “And we’re working to make it easier for employees to access health care. Our CEO is very employee centric. He’s aware that a highly engaged staff wants to stay.”

Putting employees’ health and well-being at the forefront of policies leads to a high level of service and continuity to members, Arigo said. That, in turn, is beneficial to the Providence-based automotive and travel benefits company’s bottom line.

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Dealing with COVID-19’s long-term effects has been top of mind at AAA Northeast since 2020. As a result, the company introduced a more flexible work schedule. Depending on the job, staff can be in the office full time, opt for a hybrid model, or work remotely. There’s also a new policy that allows employees to take up to two additional weeks of COVID-19 sick time during the pandemic, along with regularly allowed sick days. Unused COVID-19 time can be rolled over from year to year.

Gina San Giovanni, human resources benefit specialist, said flexibility is important because this illness may have long-term, unpredictable effects.

As telemedicine becomes more popular, employees can also take advantage of a virtual health care company that offers annual physicals and some annual screenings online in a different yet efficient manner.

The company is also aware that employees may face significant illness. Two leading concerns: diabetes and cancer. A couple of years ago, AAA Northeast launched Livongo for Diabetes, an online employer-paid program that provides free test strips, a digital monitor and support for employees and spouses. San Giovanni said up to 35% of eligible staff members have enrolled since its debut, and participants’ blood glucose levels have dropped year over year.

For employees dealing with a cancer diagnosis, AAA Northeast has introduced the option of getting an initial or second opinion from Memorial Sloan Kettering, an expert cancer research and treatment center.

Livongo’s online mental health program, myStrength, is also employer paid, and has a 16% enrollment rate, higher than the industry standard, San Giovanni said. Smaller initiatives, such as an annual virtual health fair with live sessions in yoga and mindful breathing, along with cooking demonstrations that are recorded and kept in an online library, have been ­popular.

Of course, most know AAA Northeast for its roadside assistance rescuing stranded motorists, its driving school, as well as its much-welcomed R.I. Division of Motor Vehicles services.

All of these public-facing employees were directly affected by COVID-19 during the state’s quarantine periods and were retrained to the company’s call centers. They also delivered both for Meals on Wheels of Rhode Island, as well as masks and medical equipment to facilities in need. There were no layoffs or salary cuts due to COVID, San Giovanni said, and that was true companywide. In fact, far from shrinking, AAA Northeast’s staffing has grown in the last couple of years, and now hovers around 2,900.

Perhaps less tangible but equally important is giving employees the sense they’re invested in their communities. AAA Northeast offers one paid day off annually to anyone who participates in the company’s volunteer program, and those who work in teams may get up to five days of volunteer time off. Employees can choose what they want to do: helping Habitat for Humanity build a house, for example, or putting in a day at Amos House, one of the state’s largest soup kitchens. Karen Diehl, human resources senior employee experience specialist, said about 400 staff members have volunteered more than 2,000 hours in the first six months of 2022.

“In addition to employees giving back to the communities in which we work and live, we know that volunteering also has a tremendous impact on overall mood and mental well-being,” Diehl said in an email. “It’s a win-win on many levels.”

A Healthy Thought:
‘We know that volunteering also has a tremendous impact on overall mood and mental well-being.’
KAREN DIEHL AAA Northeast human resources senior employee experience specialist

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