An Empathetic Approach to Workplace Wellbeing: Our Interview with Creative Options Regina
Updated: May 1
CMHA Mental Health Week is all about sharing stories. At Headway, we love sharing stories of how others are making strides to improve mental health in the workplace. Throughout the week, we will be sharing best practises from interviews with experts and leaders working to champion mental health in their organizations. We hope it inspires your team to take action!
In our latest blog, we sat down with Casey Sakires from Creative Options Regina (COR) to learn more about their mental health initiatives and how they are creating a culture of balance and wellness by leading with empathy.
Founded in 2009, Creative Options Regina (COR) is a for-impact, charitable organization that develops personalized support services for people experiencing disabilities. They recognize the unique and often emotionally draining circumstances their employees can work under when caring for vulnerable populations day-to-day, leading them to a “care for the caregiver” approach to employee well-being.
We became familiar with COR as a fellow recipient of a Canadian Workplace Wellness Award for excellence in mental health and wellness initiatives. Through our own Headway initiative, we look to shine a spotlight on businesses championing mental health and share best practices to inspire other leaders to take action. We sat down with Casey Sakires, Employee Experience Advisor with COR, to learn more about his company’s balanced approach to wellness and why open, honest dialogue is key to creating a mentally safe environment.
According to Casey, these are some of the initiatives they’ve seen success with:
If someone has had a challenging day, a judgment-free conversation will help them make peace with the emotions inside. Casey mentioned that team members can debrief with anyone they desire from the CEO to directors to coordinators, all judgment-free. This enables a strong support system so employees will not have to suffer in silence and bottle up their emotions which we know can put a strain on our physical and mental health.
Collaboration with community professionals.
COR understands that stress can come from anywhere and prioritizes caring for the caregiver so that they can provide the best care possible for those they serve. This inspired COR to consult with experts in various areas to focus on the holistic health of their supports. For example, finance experts from CPA Saskatchewan, RBC, CIBC, and Leipert Financial conducted sessions to help ease the financial stress that employees were burdened with. It better equipped the teams with financial know-how, and people made real community connections that lived on beyond the sessions, enabling more trust and rapport.
Enabling personal initiatives.
COR takes it upon itself to facilitate well-being in the workplace and enable employees to fulfill their well-being journeys outside of work. To round out the body element of their holistic approach, COR offers employee discounts on gym memberships, yoga classes, and spin classes in collaboration with local businesses. These are done as a fitness bursary everyone can take advantage of to improve their physical health which we know can help ease mental health struggles as well.
When it comes to new learnings, Casey says the shift from in-person to virtual was a learning experience for their team:
When the pandemic hit and the world became unfamiliar, COR learned to rely on its central purpose to guide them. Their central purpose is to ensure people experience connectedness, companionship, and community. They acted through intentional listening and learning directly from employees to better understand their needs and the needs of their loved ones. Knowing what was uniquely important to each member allowed them to respond meaningfully to best support COR employees as they continued to endure the pandemic. During the pandemic and still today, success to COR is knowing that their workforce feels safe and valued, making psychological safety paramount. And while COR managed to stay connected during the pandemic, their employees are glad to be back to interacting more in-person today, as this improves the impact of their wellbeing initiatives that much more.
We want to thank Casey and Creative Options Regina for sharing the ups and downs of their well-being journey. We hope these learnings will inspire your company to consider new ways of working and create a mentally healthier workplace.
Designed to inspire action, our Headway Program helps business leaders take the next step toward creating mentally healthy workplaces. Navigating this complex topic can be tough. Our team can help with resources, tools, and a tailored plan based on your unique needs. Email us at email@example.com.