SK Top Employer

Caring for the caregivers is key for Creative Options Regina

Caring for the caregivers is key for Creative Options Regina

Employees at Creative Options Regina with a client. Supplied photo  

The job of providing supports for people with disabilities or those struggling with their mental health can take a heavy toll, though Creative Options Regina discovered when you care for the caregivers it benefits both the clients and the company.

This is their second year being named as one of Saskatchewan’s top employers. This year will mark Creative Options Regina’s 10th year in business though executive director Michael Lavis notes it was about seven years ago when the company started to refocus their efforts to create a healthier and happier work environment for their employees.

“The field of work we are in may not be physically demanding, but it’s very emotionally demanding,” he explained. “We need to ensure our employees feel supported and have the supports they need to be doing well both physically and mentally to be able to provide the quality care.”

Lavis said the key to providing this supportive work environment was to understand the needs and wants of their employees, which he credits as being the non-profit’s most valuable assets, and make sure they felt valued, respected and that their voices were being heard.

Not only do they offer their more than 200 employees flexible hours — including the opportunity to work shortened and condensed work weeks — and the option to telecommute, they also encourage the employees to share their passions — leading to the introduction of a number of sports teams, clubs and fun nights out.

“It’s about facilitating relationships both in and outside of work,” Lavis said. “When you think about the amount of time people spend in the workplace throughout their life, you would hope they have those relationships and connections with their coworkers.”

Putting these extracurricular activities in place is generally at a very minimal cost to Creative Options Regina, Lavis said. Even when there is a fee — such as the $1,000 entry fee to participate in the Regina Dragon Boat Festival — the amount of time and the number of employees who come out to support is more than worth it.

“All summer long they practice once a week, they’re engaged in this physical activity and connecting by doing something that they all love. So to me, thats $1,000 well spent,” he said. “Sometimes you just have to give it a try.”

Though Lavis notes it’s not always easy to manage the different needs of all their employees, he says this approach has also helped them retain employees longer — which in turn has helped maintain a sense of trust with their clients alongside the high quality of care they are known to provide.

“In the support services sector the turnover rate is quite, quite high and we’ve been year after year between nine and 14 per cent — which is a fraction of the provincial average,” Lavis finishes. “I believe a big part of that is because of the work environment we are cultivating and the attention we pay to our employees.”

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