Recognized as one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers (2022)

The pandemic and the rise of remote work are turning Saskatchewan’s historical challenges into benefits.

Saskatchewan companies have historically hired at a disadvantage to more populous provinces, but the past years saw so much uncertainty in the global employment market that Saskatchewan seems to be acquiring a more powerful appeal to workers. Global swings in traditional work cultures could benefit its workers as much as its big employers — a trend that can be seen by looking at some of the most popular and successful companies in the country.

Each year, the Canada’s Top 100 Employers competition releases its picks for the best employers in each region of the country, analyzing a wide range of factors to help applicants figure out which companies offer the best work environments. Now, 2022’s Saskatchewan ranking has arrived to highlight those companies that have continued to offer creative, competitive compensation and benefits packages even while dealing with a host of local and global difficulties.

The winners are chosen based on multiple criteria, including compensation and benefits, the work and social atmosphere, the work environment, training and upward mobility and community involvement — all of which were pushed forward by a healthy level of competition between public- and private-sector employers.

Continue reading to learn why COR was selected as one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers…

 

2022 Winners

Here are the 2022 winners of the Saskatchewan’s Top Employers competition. Click an employer name to read our editors’ full Reasons for Selection:

 

Source: https://www.canadastop100.com/sk/

Canadian HR Reporter, 2022 5-Star Rewards and Recognition Award

This year, COR received the Canadian HR Reporter 5-Star Rewards & Recognition Award for a company sized 100-499 employees!

Click here to visit hrreporter.com to learn more


Rewarding dedicated employees

If there was ever a time when employee rewards and recognition (R&R) were needed, it’s during the ongoing pandemic. As many people struggle — whether they are retail or health care front-liners, or parents working from home while taking care of their kids, or single people increasingly isolated from coworkers — feeling valued and appreciated by their employer is much more important.

To that end, several Canadian organizations not only maintained an impressive focus on recognition during the past two years, but upped their offerings to recognize the hard work of staff and boost morale. Canadian HR Reporter spoke with three of the 13 5-Star Rewards and Recognition winners to learn about their unique programs.

Continue reading

COR Receives Canada’s Healthy Workplace 2021 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 announces the 2021 Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month® Great Employers

TORONTO, Dec. 06, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Excellence Canada is pleased to announce the 2021 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:

Physical Health

This element of a healthy workplace refers to how well an organization supports employees to develop and maintain healthy behaviours (exercise, nutrition, sleep, etc.) reduce unhealthy/risky habits and make optimal use of health care opportunities. It also refers to workplace due diligence regarding Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and the management of workplace influences that may contribute to injuries, disabilities and/or fatalities. Facility design, including air quality, noise, lighting, and other physical workplace factors are also important aspects that impact employee physical health and well-being.

Mental Health

This element of a healthy workplace refers to how the organization encourages a supportive workplace culture – the foundation of a healthy workplace. This element speaks to how the culture encourages respect, trust, support, and inclusivity. It refers to communication styles and patterns of relationships and values that influence employee health, safety, and well-being.

Social Health

Social well-being in the workplace reflects employee relationships with coworkers, interactions with management, and a sense of belonging within the organization as a whole. It is a measure of an employee’s interpersonal relationships both inside and outside of work and includes aspects such as connectedness, collaboration, recognition and rewards, engagement, influence, growth and development, and intellectual health.

Community

Being a socially responsible organization empowers employees to leverage corporate resources at their disposal to do good. Formal social responsibility programs boost employee morale and productivity in the workforce. This element of a healthy workplace refers to the interrelationship between the workplace, the community, and employee health, safety and well-being, including the way organizations are involved in the community, support environmental stewardship, economic responsibility, and social justice; and how employees are encouraged to participate, volunteer, and ‘give back’ to the community.

This year’s recipients are, in alphabetical order:

AGS Rehab Solutions Inc. Mississauga ON
CanmetENERGY-Ottawa, Natural Resources Canada Nepean ON
CHEO (Pediatric health care and research centre) Ottawa ON
Connecting Care & Points West Living Edmonton AB
Creative Options Regina Regina SK
Hamilton Health Sciences Hamilton ON
Health Standards Organization (HSO) Ottawa ON
Lethbridge College Lethbridge AB
McMaster University Hamilton ON
Saskatchewan Blue Cross Saskatoon SK
Unbounce Vancouver BC
WorkTango Toronto ON

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

About Excellence Canada
Excellence Canada is an independent, not-for-profit corporation that is committed to advancing organizational excellence across Canada. As a national authority on Organizational Excellence, Healthy Workplace®, and Mental Health at Work® awards, Excellence Canada provides excellence frameworks, standards, and independent verification and certification to organizations of all sizes and in all sectors. It is also the custodian and adjudicator of the Canada Awards for Excellence program.

“Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month” , “Healthy Workplace”, and “Mental Health at Work” are Registered Trademarks of Excellence Canada.

Michael Lavis earns Canada’s Most Admired CEO — Broader Public Sector for 2021

In 2021, COR CEO Michael Lavis earned the title of Canada’s Most Admired CEO in the Broader Public Sector from Waterstone Human Capital.

Learn more about 2021’s winners here.

Michael Lavis

Michael Lavis is the founding CEO of Creative Options Regina (COR) — a for-impact, charitable organization that develops personalized support services for people experiencing disability in Regina, Saskatchewan. Under Michael’s leadership, COR has grown to become one of Saskatchewan’s largest support providers serving both vulnerable youth and adults in-care. Michael is passionately committed to nurturing a culture of gentleness within the workplace, transforming care by focusing on employee experience.

As a purpose-driven leader, Michael embraces a culture of continuous learning, recently completing a MA in Leadership with a specialization is values from Royal Roads University. Additionally, he has a MA in Human Security and Peacebuilding, coupled with a BA in International Relations from the University of Saskatchewan, and has completed a number of leadership certificate programs. Michael has over fifteen years of global experience developing opportunities for marginalized individuals; from South America to Africa, and Southeast Asia to Canada, Michael has worked and researched extensively within various international organizations. 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. In addition to his work at COR, Michael serves on the Board of Directors of Service Hospitality, Caledonian Curling Club, and is an advisory committee member of the Conference Board of Canada’s Council on Workplace Health and Wellness. COR has been recognized as one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures – Broader Public Sector (2020), one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers (2018-2021), Canada’s Top 100 Employers (2021), and recipient of Canada’s Healthiest Workplaces Award (2019 & 2020).

Revealed: Best Places to Work (2021) by Canadian HR Reporter

Today, Canadian HR Reporter unveiled its list of top employers based on key metrics, employee feedback — COR is incredibly proud to be recognized as one of CANADA’S BEST PLACES TO WORK (2021).

Revealed: Best Places to Work 2021

Cover Page: Canadian HR Reporter Magazine

 

 

Looking to hear more about why Creative Options Regina is among the 2021 Best Places to Work, Canadian HR Reporter spoke with Casey Sakires, employee experience advisor.

 

Constructing Community: A Collaborative Bench Project

Samantha Jones (BA, DTATI-thesis pending)
Regina, SK

From November 2020 to May 2021, a group of individuals embarked on a journey, facilitated by art therapy student Samantha Jones, of creating a bench to be displayed in their community. Group members are part of the Creative Options Regina (COR) community, who embrace the philosophy of gentle teaching when providing support for their members. Individuals collaborated in person and online as changing COVID restrictions repeatedly restructured the project, but still found the space to build community and strengthen connections through creating unique pieces of their art.

Originally published at canadianarttherapy.org

Michael Lavis on Tardigrade Talks with Dr. Joti Samra

SE01 E15 Michael Lavis

A Culture of Gentleness: Inspiring Change, Engagement, and Loyalty

Episode Summary

In this episode, the CEO of Creative Options Regina (COR), Michael Lavis, chats with Dr. Joti Samra about how his non-profit charitable organization focuses on supporting people with disabilities. He speaks to their organization’s values and the personalized strategies utilized to create an environment of safety, warmth, and equality, and how rooting themselves in the philosophy of Gentle Teaching has strengthened the fabric of companionship and community for all they serve. Michael shares how a caring and gentle organizational culture can dramatically lower turnover rates, contribute to organizational growth, and cultivate a multiple-award-winning organization.

Episode trailer

Listen to full episode

About Michael

Michael is COR’s founding CEO — a for-impact, charitable organization that develops personalized support services for people experiencing disability in Regina, Saskatchewan. Under Michael’s leadership, COR has grown over the past 11 years to become one of the largest support providers in the province employing nearly 300 people. Michael is passionately committed to nurturing a culture of gentleness throughout the organization — for both employees and people served — and recognizes the key to a healthy workplace begins with the employee experience! COR has been recognized as one of Canada’s Healthiest Workplace (2019/2020), one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures (2020), and named for the 4th consecutive year as one of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers (2021).

National Post features COR’s Culture of Gentleness

A culture built on Gentle Teaching

A conscious decision to nurture the health and wellbeing of COR employees has helped bring exceptional care to those that the organization supports.

Three words that exemplify the corporate culture at Creative Options Regina are family, value and respect. “Everyone here 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,” says CEO Michael Lavis.Creative Options Regina (COR) is a non-profit charitable organization that provides support to youth and adults experiencing intellectual disability and mental health struggles.

A conscious decision to nurture the health and wellbeing of COR employees has helped bring exceptional care to the people and families that the organization supports. That focus has also brought COR a Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures Award in the Broader Public Sector category.

When COR was established 10 years ago, the founders were determined to challenge the status quo and demonstrate that care could be done differently. The goal was to give those they serve the opportunity for choice and control in their lives, and put each person in the driver’s seat of their own destiny. In embracing the Gentle Teaching philosophy, that goal has been, and continues to be, met.

The Gentle Teaching philosophy is a passion for the COR team. Morianna Fink, member of the organization’s mentorship and outreach team, says, “Gentle Teaching is rooted in the foundation of who we are and how we support those in our community and each other. It helps us to see the value in each individual and place it at the centre of our caregiving and our culture. When people are nurtured, they flourish.”Gentle Teaching is built on four pillars:

Safety When a person feels safe, both physically and emotionally, he/she can begin to heal.

Unconditional love When a person is valued, they learn that life can be good and hopeful.

Loving When you are loving, and others reach out to receive that love, it builds trust.

Engagement A relationship built on safety, trust and love brings engagement and the freedom to make choices while knowing that support is always available.

To help support these pillars Gentle Teaching uses four primary tools that help shape relationships with coworkers, family, spouse, friends and more:

Hands Use hands to help, never to harm.

Eyes Look at others kindly and uplift them.

Words Use words to build up, not tear down.

Presence Be in the moment and non-demanding in every encounter.

“Gentle Teaching is the most important aspect of all new employee training. Coaching takes that training further and allows people to have important conversations with their teams and with each other so that any struggles are addressed proactively,” says Fink.

The pandemic brought overwhelming confusion and challenges for those to whom the organization provides services. In concert, employees were nervous and concerned about the health and wellbeing of their own families and loved ones. Yet still the strength, resiliency, and caring of the COR team came through.“

COVID shone a light on the challenges of caregiving. We hope that the learning throughout this pandemic will create change in systems that have long been forgotten. Our approach is quite unique and only practised by a handful of organizations. We have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate how care can be done differently,” says Lavis. “Our gentle approach is not only for those we provide services to, but woven throughout the fabric of our organization and how we interact with our partners, families, and stakeholders. It is having a profound impact on our entire community.”

COR has a young workforce and over 90 per cent joined the organization without prior experience in the disability services sector. The approach to recruitment is very different from the norm, says Casey Sakires, employee experience adviser with COR. “We do not post support positions. Instead, we look for creative ways to share what we do and start conversations with potential candidates. That includes being active in the community, participating in marathons and other events, and through our corporate social responsibility programs.”

While the organization attracts a great many students of social work and kinesiology, surprisingly those with less obvious backgrounds such as engineering and education also find a fit with COR values. “It’s about finding people who really want to make a difference in the lives of others and who mesh well with our Gentle Teaching ideals,” notes Sakires. “Just as we do in the outside community, we celebrate the diversity of thought that a wide range of expertise brings to the team. Once on board, each individual is supported to the fullest with tools and training, mental health resources, and opportunities to grow and learn beyond COR.”

Staying true to its roots, and using the principles of Gentle Teaching as a guide, COR remains committed to nurturing a culture of gentleness and belonging, where everyone feels safe and valued. Through the learning and experiences of the past 10 years, and the people who have supported the organization along the way, COR will continue to grow.

That growth will come through enhancing the employee experience, cultivating strong leaders, and bringing flexibility to the workplace; strengthening mentorship while deepening the coaching culture; embracing a holistic approach to wellness; building strong, resilient teams to support the evolving needs of the community; ensuring values and purpose align across the organization; and building stronger connections where everyone’s gifts and contributions are welcomed and celebrated.

Kindness counts

To actively express its commitment to the pillars of the Gentle Teaching, COR initiated its 100 Acts of Kindness campaign. The program, which initially began as a winter blues buster activity four years ago, has morphed into a community-driven mobile surprise party to recognize the silent heroes in everyday life.

The success of the campaign came from community partners and the general public that nominated difference-makers in their circle. “These are the people that walk among us and bring us joy in the seemingly little things they do. Whether it’s providing change at a gas station, putting in overtime in the classroom, or keeping our community clean, these are giants that rarely look for appreciation — and that is why we need to recognize them,” says Ben Morris, COR’s creative director.

In 2019 COR partnered with Strategy Lab Marketing, My 92.1 FM, Campbell Collegiate, and students at the University of Regina to help expand the program reach.

“There are so many incredible stories to share. Like the university custodian who we were lucky enough to celebrate. We found him mopping floors, gifted him with a cupcake and t-shirt, and shared words of appreciation from members of the community. He was moved to tears by a level of kindness he had never before received. You really don’t realize how much such a small act can mean to one individual until you experience it firsthand.”

In 2020, the pandemic changed everything. Public recognition became impossible in an instant as everything shut down. “There was concern we may not bring the program back, but the community showed us some love and rose to the challenge. We partnered with our local high school and began socially-distanced, video-recorded surprises that were posted to social media.”

The campaign has become such a success that COR is now taking calls from communities across Saskatchewan looking to be a part of the 100 Acts of Kindness movement. “This inspirational program has taken our whole organization and philosophy and wrapped it in a blanket of kindness that we live, breath and share with others.”

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