Proud to be named a Saskatchewan Top Employer (2021)

On February 4th, COR was recognized as one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers for 2021 – our 4th straight year to receive this recognition! We are both humbled and proud of this accomplishment. Thank you to our entire COR family; we are so tremendously grateful to work alongside such compassionate, caring people!

Dedicated employees propel leading Saskatchewan employers

Support workers at Creative Options Regina don’t see themselves as punching the clock, earning a wage or, to quote a classic rock tune, working for the weekend.

“It’s that whole sense of making a difference,” says Michael Lavis, chief executive officer of the non-profit organization that provides a variety of at-home social services for individuals with mental health and/or intellectual disabilities.

“We’re typically working with a group of people who don’t necessarily fit into traditional models of care,” Lavis says, adding that clients face challenges involving health care, mental health, social services and justice.

That means crafting care for each individual client.

“With us, it’s about meeting the person where they’re at,” he says.

Workers at the organization take that duty to heart, continuing to serve clients even in less-than-ideal conditions — such as a pandemic.

The importance of their work is one reason why Creative Options is among Saskatchewan’s Top Employers in 2021.

The Top Employers program, managed by Mediacorp Canada Inc., recognizes workplaces not only for offering excellent compensation, exceptional workplace culture and nifty perks. It also selects organizations that are exceptionally good at engaging their employees.

And no workers are more engaged than those who believe their role is to make the world a better place.

Employees at First Nations Bank of Canada — another Top Employer in Saskatchewan — also feel that sense of doing good through their efforts at the financial institution that serves Indigenous people, businesses and their communities.

“In some places, we are the only bank around,” says Leigh Solomon, vice-president of retail banking at the bank. “And so many employees have taken great pride in still being open to serve these communities during the pandemic.”

Their roles have included providing in-person banking to a handful of clients who lack internet and even phone connections. At other times, they have walked customers through the process of using online banking services so they don’t have to visit a branch.

Kevin Michael, vice-president of commercial banking, says First Nations Bank of Canada employees recognize their role isn’t just providing financial services. It’s about helping Indigenous communities build their economies and generate wealth.

“What we do really benefits people’s lives in northern communities,” he says, adding many employees are from northern Saskatchewan.

A similar sense of purpose is shared among Creative Options Regina employees, which is a good thing because demand for services has expanded during COVID-19, Lavis notes.

The fact the organization has been able to meet this demand is “testament” to the efforts of its staff.

“We attract good people because of what we do,” Lavis says. “Still, even I’m just really amazed how everyone stepped up in this difficult time.”

As an employer, Creative Options Regina has looked to help its staff be at its best by creating a workplace that meets their needs while addressing any concerns. That has built a united organization.

“When you have that sense of common purpose — you feel like you’re part of something bigger than yourself and you’re making a difference — the job doesn’t feel much like work anymore.”

 

2021 Winners

Here are the 2021 winners of the Saskatchewan’s Top Employers competition. Click an employer name to read our editors’ full Reasons for Selection:

Read the full article published in the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon Star Pheonix on February 4th, 2021: https://www.canadastop100.com/sk/

 

Recipient of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Great Employer Award

COR has once again received Canada’s Healthy Workplace Great Employer Award by Excellence Canada and Canada Life. We are so very proud of our COR family and tremendously grateful to everyone who has supported our effort in building a healthy workplace! Read about the award below:

Excellence Canada and Canada Life announce the 2020 Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® Great Employers

TORONTO, Dec. 15, 2020 — Excellence Canada and Canada Life are pleased to announce the 2020 Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® Great Employers. These organizations are being celebrated for their planning and actions to foster physically and psychologically safe and healthy workplaces, striving to continually improve across four main areas of focus, namely:

Healthy Lifestyles

This involves helping employees develop and maintain healthy lifestyle practices, eat well, exercise, drop unhealthy or risky habits, and make optimal use of the healthcare system.

Mental Health and Workplace Culture

Culture is created, reinforced and sustained by ongoing patterns of relationships and communications that can have an important influence on psychological health and safety. The organizational culture reflects values that support mental health, such as trust, fairness, respect, diversity, inclusion and teamwork.

Physical Environment

Aiming to reduce the risk of fatalities and workplace disabilities, this area of focus involves fully and continually addressing matters of occupational health and safety, including the possible impacts of new technologies, production changes, increasing demands on time, and cost containment measures.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The interrelationship between the community, the workplace and the employee can influence employee health and well-being, as well as the health and performance of the organization. CSR activities are often seen as voluntary, going above and beyond what is legislated or required.

This year’s recipients are, in alphabetical order:

Organization City Province
AGS Rehab Solutions Inc. Mississauga ON
AV Mechanical Inc. Vaughan ON
CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Natural Resources Canada Nepean ON
Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Ottawa ON
Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Collingwood ON
Connecting Care & Points West Living Edmonton AB
Creative Options Regina Regina SK
Health Standards Organization (HSO) Ottawa ON
Lethbridge College Lethbridge AB
Mary Berglund Community Health Centre Hub Ignace ON
Vancouver Island Brewing Victoria BC
Victoria Airport Authority Sidney BC

Find out what it takes to be a Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® Great Employer online.

Excellence Canada, an independent not-for-profit organization, would like to thank Canada Life for its generosity and support as the Presenting Sponsor of Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month®. Established by Excellence Canada over 20 years ago, Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® is celebrated every October. Our website provides organizations with year-round resources, tools, and knowledge that they need to implement a long-term Healthy Workplace® strategy.

COR Recognized as Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures

It’s a big day for the COR family!! Thanks to you, we’ve proudly accepted a prestigious award: Waterstone Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures.

We have been grateful this year to receive several culture-related awards that truly embody both what it means to be a member of the COR family, as well as what we’re trying to accomplish at COR every single day.

What Makes COR Special?

For the third straight year we have been named one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers, in 2019 we were recognized as one of Canada’s Healthiest workplaces by Canada Life and Excellence Canada, and now COR has been named one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures by Waterstone Human Capital; but why? If you ask around, you’ll find a common theme – it’s the people and their values.

Everyone at COR is a passionate individual who embodies our culture of gentleness to the fullest. We nurture a culture of belonging, lead with purpose and we approach people with compassion. 

When we embarked on this journey ten years ago, we were determined to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that care could be done differently – to afford the people we serve a real opportunity to have choice and control in their lives, putting each person in the driver’s seat of their own destiny. Moreover, we focused on our employees – the most important people in the organization – for if we take good care of all our family members, they will in turn provide exceptional care to the people we support and their families. It’s that simple! 

Staying true to our roots, we continue to be guided by the principles of Gentle Teaching and remain committed to nurturing within our organization a culture of gentleness and belonging, where everyone feels safe and valued. There has been an incredible amount of learning and growth over the past ten short years; we are forever grateful to the many incredible people who offered their wisdom and have served as mentors along the way.

As we forge ahead, we will continue to focus on:

  • our employee experience, with a particular emphasis on workplace flexibility and cultivating strong leaders;
  • strengthening our formal mentorship and leadership development initiatives, while deepening our coaching culture;
  • embracing a holistic approach to wellness by nurturing a healthy mind, healthy body, and healthy life;
  • building strong, resilient teams that will allow COR to further expand and support the evolving needs of our community;
  • ensuring values and purpose alignment throughout the entire organization;
  • supporting the people we serve and their families to live their lives to the fullest; and
  • establishing even stronger connections within our community, partnering with those who share a common vision of fostering a community where everyone’s gifts and contributions are welcomed and celebrated.

THANK-YOU — we are so very grateful for your contribution to our growing organization and we are proud to have you part of our family. 

 

Stay safe,

Michael Lavis

 

Link to November 26th, 2020 Press Release.

This is Geoffrey Sutherland. This is his WHY!

Creative Options Regina has over 220 employees, all with different stories. This blog series will highlight some of the amazing people that work at COR and what fuels their passion and purpose.

This is Geoffrey Sutherland. Geoffrey is a Youth Experience Advisor and joined COR in March of this year.

What brought you to COR?

I had been engaged in a leadership role in agency run foster care.  My team and I had the honour of ensuring the unification and ongoing support of families in the community. As an early childhood educator, Gentle Teaching is interwoven throughout my curriculum and approach.  This had provided me with the foundation in practice and the evidence I sought for a better way to serve. What had occurred to me was that it is senseless to give both value and safety to the individuals we serve, but less so to the community who support them. Highly motivated to be a different kind of leader, I had reached out to Michael Lavis for guidance.  He astonished me by generously offering his time and insight tirelessly encouraging me to build the structure needed for a culture of gentleness.  A culture that would, in time, extend affectionately to supports, clinical and educational professionals, and most rewardingly, the loving families of the children now flourishing in their rightful homes. Finally, fully committed to Gentle Teaching as a philosophy and worthy vessel of compassion, it had become abundantly clear that to deepen my practice, a new place to call home would be needed.  One with a different kind of leadership: clear, kind, intentional, and open hearted.

Why do you stay?

I serve for its own sake. I have in my past been called passionate and enthusiastic, but these purposes have their limitations. Passion is about feeling strongly. Strong feelings can get in the way of the work I do. It can make me forget to listen and be present with an open heart. Feeling strongly can urge me to forget about the feelings of others. If ever I find myself feeling unclear or hesitant, it becomes improbable for me to know my purpose and show the consistency of intentionality that is deserved by those I support.  Not only is passion fleeting, it can encourage me to think of myself or my own values first. Instead, I must meet the individuals I support where they are at placing them at the centre of their own lives.  That is what’s needed from me. Likewise, enthusiasm is a powerful and tempting reason why. I can fondly and clearly recall holding babies as they fall asleep in my arms, or one of a child’s many memorable, “first” moments that have filled me with pride and gratitude.  The individuals I serve though, like all humans, also face many difficult times. Because I sincerely love the good people I greet everyday, it pains me to watch them struggle, or suffer the despair of broken hearts. If I were only able to support when it feels good, I might not last long in my work. Everyone needs someone to show up tomorrow and the next day. To be present with the same desire and open heart as today and the day before.  To support through both the ups and the downs. So what sustains me? What is my reason why for rain or shine, good or bad, simple or challenging? For its own sake. I am compelled to serve others in need when I have the power to do so. It is a drive, a curiosity and fascination that leaves me unwilling to look away for fear of missing a thing. It is the drive that fills me with the desire to feed the hungry, console the broken hearted, and to be a companion to the lonely.  A feeling that if it needs to get done, I want to be the one to do it, to do it well and to offer my service freely without resentment or regret. Then COR is the place where I can fulfill this drive. It is a safe place I know I can go every morning to do the only thing I really want to do. Be there for others.

What is the best part about your job?

If “for its own sake” is the reason why then what is “it” and what is its sake? I have encountered many senses of the word, compassion.  Some say to care for oneself in the face of caring about others. Others use words like sensitive, justice, or even pity to describe it. So why do I feel compassion even when there is nothing I can do for another except be present? When it is not in my power to offer justice or fairness? Why do I crave the feeling of compassion even when it pains me to bear witness to the hurt of others? Why does compassion give meaning to all other endeavours in my life? In my experience, what I know to be true is that compassion is above all else, the immense gratitude and the joy I can only experience feeling connected to another human being. That for better or worse, I’m so thankful I am going through this life together with someone else. Even better, with so many others.

What’s been the most impactful or meaningful experience you’ve had?

Over the last decade and a half, I have had the time to reflect on why I do what I do, and what I get out of it.  What I have enjoyed about COR, is meeting others who know their “Why” too. To watch them flourish in a culture of gentleness that praises and encourages each of them as individuals connecting with their own precious and ever changing purpose.

What do you wish others knew about supporting at COR?

It takes an open heart to come to COR. It takes an open heart to stay at COR. If we can remember this one thing, everything else falls into place. What takes time to realize is that only an open heart can be full.

 

This is Michael Wiebe. This is his WHY!

Creative Options Regina has over 220 employees, all with different stories. This blog series will highlight some of the amazing people that work at COR and what fuels their passion and purpose.

This is Michael Wiebe. Michael is a Home Team Leader and has been at COR for two and a half years.

What brought you to COR?

I previously worked in construction for seven years and was ready for a change. I had no idea where I wanted to go next and my wife suggested I apply at Creative Options Regina. She knows people who support within COR and heard great things about the organization. I looked into COR and was hesitant at first, as I had zero experience, but decided to go out on a limb and give it a shot. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting into, but that was one of the best decisions of my life.

Why do you stay?

I stay because I am passionate about working with people. Being able to be a part of these individual’s lives is incredibly humbling. The people within this organization have given me just as much love and support over the years as I have given to them.

What’s the best thing about your job?

The best thing about supporting with COR is that it doesn’t feel like a job. I show up and get to hang out with the boys I support and the team I support alongside. We play basketball, play video games, spend time outdoors and watch TV.

 

This is Daidre Delorme. This is her WHY!

Creative Options Regina has over 220 employees, all with different stories. This blog series will highlight some of the amazing people that work at COR and what fuels their passion and purpose.

This is Daidre Delorme. Daidre is a SLP (Supported Independent Living) Support Worker and she has worked at COR for almost two years.

What brought you to COR?

I had experience working with at-risk youth who had disabilities. In the other organization I worked for, I felt like there was something missing in the way we provided support. I attended a Gentle Teaching training at COR one day and had a life changing experience. The focus was on relationships. It wasn’t about changing the individuals we support, but rather accepting who they are and supporting them in anything and everything they wanted to do. It was from then on that I knew I wanted to be a part of COR.

Why do you stay?

One reason is, I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning everyday when I’m at COR. I’ve learned so much about caring for people and being there for them along with building meaningful relationships. I started to understand gentle teaching more each day I supported and the more I learned about it the more I love the approach of it. Another reason I stay is because I care for the people COR supports and happy I get to be a part of why they feel safe, happy, and loved.

What’s the best thing about your job?

How supported I feel by COR. It’s not just support from my entire team, but from everyone in the entire organization. We deal with struggles together, as a team and we face challenges, head on as a team. We go through things together as a team, and we all care for one another. That’s the most special part of working at COR.

What was the most impactful experience you had at COR?

It was when our team celebrated the one year anniversary of the individual I support. The girl planned a big party and I loved how happy it made her to see everything she had planned come to life. While celebrating her one year anniversary, I could see that she was feeling more safe and loved and all of us felt more connected through the experience. She even made each one of her supports a bracelet which I still wear till this day.

What do you wish people knew about COR?

It’s an amazing place where you get to build so many amazing and strong relationships. It changes the way you think about caring for people. I also don’t think of COR as a job or work. I feel very fortunate to be a part of COR and get to support along side so many amazing people and support some amazing people.

 

This is Julian Seilman. This is his WHY!

Creative Options Regina has over 220 employees, all with different stories. This blog series will highlight some of the amazing people that work at COR and what fuels their passion and purpose.

This is Julian Seilman. Julian is a Home Support Worker and has been at COR for three and a half years. This is his why!

 

What  brought you to COR? 

In 2017, I started my application process to apply for a position at Creative Options Regina as it was recommended to me by a professor of mine.  At first, I was a little hesitant to apply because I did not feel confident in the skills I had.  After a coffee conversation with my professor, I was convinced to apply.  I heard COR’s presentations in a few of my classes with Michael and Jim and I loved the philosophy of the organization, supporting people in a culture of gentleness, rather than using physical management.  At COR, people are treated like people, they’re not defined by their disability and it was clear that everyone at COR was one big family!

Why  do you stay? 

I believe the work we do at COR makes a difference in the lives of those we support. It’s neat to see how much progress and personal growth the people I support and support with, have accomplished over the years.

What’s the best thing about  your  job? 

When you leave your support time you feel a sense of reward, you know you are making people happy and allowing them to create healthy lifestyle choices on their own.  I like making people happy and when I see the people around me smiling and laughing, it makes me happy and it’s such an awesome feeling!

What’s been the most impactful or meaningful experience you’ve had? 

When I first started to support at COR, the team I started with had other new supports starting at the same time as I did. The new supports and I created games with one of the guys we supported. The games we created impacted the life of this individual that it made his mother cry tears of joy during a visit to the mall. In the past, the individual would be steps ahead of his mother ignoring her, but this time during their visit, he talked with his mother and stayed by her side. It was such a meaningful experience and I will remember it for the rest of my life.

What do you wish others knew about supporting at COR? 

COR is not your typical job; the relationships you make become long-lasting friendships and everyone becomes like family. The activities they plan at COR are fun for all with arts, crafts, music, sports and BBQs. These activities bring everyone together! Also, the culture of gentleness grows on you and anyone who becomes a part of COR will grow as a person carrying these amazing experiences with them throughout their entire life.

 

Safety Centered Leadership Award Recipient — Thank you Service Hospitality!

Earlier this month, we were honored by our provincial safety association as the recipient of their annual Safety Centered Leadership Award. We are beyond grateful for Service Hospitality’s continued support and guidance in assisting us in keeping our COR family safe! Read their article below:

Our 2019 Safety Centered Leadership Award Goes To…

Michael Lavis from Creative Options Regina!

“Thank you Service Hospitality! I am humbled by this recognition. People are at the heart of our organization — our approach to safety is holistic ensuring everyone feels safe and valued:  employees, people supported, families, partners, volunteers and stakeholders — everyone! Our success has and continues to be, the result of a highly committed, compassionate, creative group of people that make up the COR family. Even during these challenging times, we are growing stronger together, rallying as one and discovering innovative ways to build community while adhering to strict health and safety protocols. We are determined to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that care can be done differently. We are so grateful for the support and guidance you — Service Hospitality — provide us and look forward to continued partnership into the future. Thank you.”

This year we presented the Executive Director of Creative Options Regina, Mr. Michael Lavis, with Service Hospitality’s most prestigious award, the Safety Centered Leadership Award. Michael’s commitment to health and safety doesn’t arise out of needing to meet legislated requirements – he truly believes a healthy and safe workplace is a productive and sustainable one. While the health and safety of his staff at Creative Options is a priority, he also demonstrates a passion for the safety of all workers in Saskatchewan.

Creative Options Regina, and Michael himself, are known for starting trends – not following them. He thinks outside the box and offers various resources to his staff to support their physical and mental health. An example of this is when Michael realized, although nutrition planning was provided through their employee benefits package, it was not being utilized by staff. So instead of waiting for staff to seek out nutritionist services, he brought the nutritionist to the office so the support was easily accessible to all employees.

Michael has also shown a passion for health and safety by…

  • Being a valued member of Service Hospitality’s Mental Health Best Practice Group, where he has led in the area of psychological health and safety in Saskatchewan community organizations.

  • Not being afraid to challenge big ideas and make insightful recommendations in front of the Health & Safety community. This shows he is not a complacent bystander, but an active participator.

  • Has sat on the Service Hospitality board of directors for 3 years and advocates for what he believes in and what is right in the community and industry.

  • Being heavily involved with Youth Safety Education Day by sponsoring and attending YSED events, and joining forces with Service Hospitality for Smile Cookie Day at Leboldus High School in 2019.

Michael is passionately committed to strengthening the disability services sector in Saskatchewan and to forge out new beginnings for the province’s most vulnerable citizens. He understands that the business of caring for people starts with the wellness of its own employees.

Thank you to Michael for being a leader, setting an example, and always breaking through the glass ceiling of health and safety in our province and beyond its borders!

View the article on Service Hospitality’s website.

 

This is Steph Gartel. This is her WHY!

Creative Options Regina has over 220 employees, all with different stories. This blog series will highlight some of the amazing people that work at COR and what fuels their passion and purpose.

This is Steph Gartel. Steph is a Home Team Leader and has worked at COR for one year. This is her WHY!

What brought you to COR? 
My fiancé began to support at COR while I was supporting in a different organization. She would always come home with a smile on her face and would happily tell me about how incredible this organization is. After hearing about Gentle Teaching and how loving and accepting this organization was, I felt like I needed to be a part of it.

Why do you stay? 
I stay because I am valued, I am appreciated, and I am home. COR has such an inclusive community and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I feel blessed that I get to show love to the individuals that I support as they are more than deserving of it. Sometimes people just need a hug to feel better and I love that I can do that for them.

What’s the best thing about your job? 
The best thing about my job is the freedom to be myself and the growth that comes along with it. I came from an organization that didn’t allow me to freely express who I am as a person because my core values did not align with theirs. I often found myself being afraid to speak up on what really matters to me, which stopped my ability to grow both personally and professionally. I would often imagine my future, but I couldn’t see anything in it because my self-worth was slowly crashing. I am a very open being, but I began to become closed off, as I would get in trouble for expressing myself. When I came to COR, I found that a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I slowly began to come out my shell again. Every day at COR makes me feel free, welcomed, and accepted for everything that I am. I have grown so much and have become the best version of myself. I have never felt judged or unwanted and I thank the universe every day for bringing me to exactly where I need to be. I am always met with a smile from everyone in COR and I am always heard.

What’s been the most impactful or meaningful experience you’ve had? 
The most meaningful experiences I’ve had were the the moments when an individual that I supported said, ”you make me feel safe” and, “I love you, Steph.” When the individuals have said those things to me, it makes me feel like what I do really matters to them, like I make a positive difference in their lives. Anytime I hear it, it also fills my cup even more and it makes me feel like this is exactly where I belong.

What do you wish others knew about supporting at COR?
I wish others knew that supporting at COR is the most rewarding experience. There is so much room for growth and new opportunities. If I could go back to before I started supporting at COR, I would tell myself that I matter, I am loved, I am valuable, I am appreciated, and that there will always be room for constant growth in my life.