One of the most important questions I ask every new applicant that wants to join COR is why did you apply here and most will say it’s because they want to help people. Whenever I’m gathering feedback in our annual survey about what everyone likes about COR, the vast majority of answers will say they love the people. And whenever I’m meeting with someone to do an exit interview, I’ll ask what they will miss the most about COR and everyone always says they’ll miss the people.
It is with a heavy heart that I announce I will be transitioning out of my role with COR to join the Human Resources Team at the University of Regina. This is something that found me by surprise and presents an opportunity to further my professional development in such a way that I couldn’t miss out on. Although I am excited for this new challenge, it feels bittersweet because I’m also saddened to leave you all. There’s nothing that can replace the culture at COR. We’ve got something really special here and I’m forever grateful that I got to be part of it. I’ve grown as a person in ways that I could never have imagined and probably still haven’t fully realized.
I remember applying for the position on a whim with tempered expectations and soon after found myself feeling excited about the possibility of becoming part of something very unique. I remember saying I’d be happy to fill any position available and upon stepping into my role I felt like it was too good to be true. I remember thinking about how I didn’t want to fail or let anyone down or have someone find out I wasn’t good enough. For the first several months I referred to a dozen different sticky notes and jotted down things like “don’t say shift!” or “what’s a CLSD?” What I learned very quickly was that COR is a safe place to learn and grow. You can make mistakes, step out of your comfort zone and truly make a positive impact in the lives of others. I’ve been lucky enough to be here for almost four years and in that time I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming many of you into this family and watching many others develop into absolute rock stars.
You are all amazing people and you have taught me so much in ways I cannot describe. You are the most caring, compassionate and supportive people I’ve ever met and I’m grateful to have worked with you. As COR continues to thrive in the community, challenge the status quo and change the way our society views and values people, I am excited to watch and support all the work that will continue to make our community a better place.
Thank you COR for taking a chance on someone who didn’t know much other than the fact he wanted to help people. I am grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had to grow personally and professionally. It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!!
COR Family Member
On May 2, COR was awarded the 2019 Prism Award by the International Coach Federation – Saskatchewan Charter Chapter. We are grateful for the support of the ICF and Shana Ring (Destination Leadership) for their ongoing support and guidance in nurturing a ‘Coaching Culture’ within COR.
EMBRACING A COACHING CULTURE
There’s a stigma in the traditional workplace about performance management and annual evaluations. Employees might be nervous about attending such a meeting and supervisors may find the process to be tedious or time consuming. When the evaluation is all said and done, the paperwork is filed away in a personnel file for another year and the content of the discussion dissipates over time. As you may or may not know, COR is not a traditional workplace.
COR has committed to nurturing a ‘Coaching Culture’ whereby performance feedback can be requested at any point throughout the year. If you or your supervisor believes there are areas for growth, formal or informal feedback is provided on an ad hoc basis. One of the main job duties of supervisors and leaders at COR is to provide support to their team members; therefore, paid time is set aside on a weekly basis for mentoring and coaching facilitated through the process of a Coaching Conversation. In addition, COR actively employs three (3) people in our unique Mentorship & Outreach position. This mentorship role is to provide a team with on-the-job support, feedback and guidance. By providing ongoing support and coaching opportunities to our employees, we have taken the pressure off the annual evaluation. While this process still exists, we have provided balance by placing our emphasis on purposeful conversations about goal setting and personal learning plans. By focusing on goal setting, it’s important to often revisit what may have been set out during the annual evaluation because goals are ongoing and can’t always be solved in a one hour meeting once a year.
In order to ensure the success of our Coaching Culture, we needed to provide all our leadership with the necessary tools to become effective coaches. COR has made, and continues to make, a significant investment to train our Senior Leaders, Mentors, Team Leaders, and Assistant Team Leaders in Coaching Skills Training and Certified Coach Training in partnership with Destination Leadership and Turner-Larsen Consulting.
Director of People and Culture
“I had the opportunity to work with a large group of COR leaders on developing a coach-approach to leadership and communication in the workplace. This highly engaged group demonstrated a high level of passion for learning, growing and enhancing their leadership skills. Destination Leadership is honoured to partner with the COR leadership team, who is dedicated to investing in the development of their leaders and build a coaching culture now and into the future.” – Shana Ring, Destination Leadership
Preparing employees for tomorrow is what makes this year’s ‘Saskatchewan’s Top Employers’ stand out from the crowd
REGINA, Feb. 13, 2019 /CNW/ – A lot of employers talk about the need to train employees to make sure they have the skills needed to create the products that will be in demand tomorrow. But only a few leading employers have put these words into action. That’s the message from this year’s Saskatchewan’s Top Employers, announced today by the organizers of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project at Mediacorp Canada Inc.
“Saskatchewan is unique in Canada in having a significant public-sector component to its economy combined with relatively modest levels of immigration,” says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. “For employers, this makes it even more important to ensure their existing employees have the skills needed to succeed in tomorrow’s economy. More than in other parts of Canada, Saskatchewan employers have a significant incentive to develop the skills of their existing workforce.”
“We see Saskatchewan employers taking a greater role in preparing their employees for tomorrow’s skills,” adds Kristina Leung, Senior Editor at the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. “With softer prices for many of Saskatchewan’s primary commodities, more organizations are realizing they have to move up the value chain to compete internationally. The best way to do this is with employees who have the skills needed to create products and services that the world needs.”
Here are some of the notable initiatives that the editors recognized this year:
- Regina-based ISM Canada, a subsidiary of IBM Canada Ltd., operates a company-wide program called ‘Think 40’ that strongly encourages employees to complete a minimum of 40 hours professional development each year.
- Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp. encourages ongoing employee development through full tuition subsidies for training courses, whether or not the course is related to an employee’s current position.
- Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies builds on its role as an educator by promoting employee skills development through in-house courses and subsidies (to $1,500) to obtain various professional certifications.
- Saskatoon Police Service reaches out to the next generation through a dedicated summer jobs program for Aboriginal students, as well as a special outreach program to youth who are newcomers to Canada and interested in a career in policing.
- Synergy Credit Union in Lloydminster encourages a culture of learning with tuition subsidies for courses that help employees improve their skills, plus cash bonuses (to $1,800) on the completion of particular training programs.
Now in its 14th year, Saskatchewan’s Top Employers is a special designation that recognizes Saskatchewan employers that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Employers throughout Saskatchewan were evaluated by the editors at Canada’s Top 100 Employers using the same criteria as the national competition: (1) Physical Workplace; (2) Work Atmosphere & Social; (3) Health, Financial & Family Benefits; (4) Vacation & Time Off; (5) Employee Communications; (6) Performance Management; (7) Training & Skills Development; and (8) Community Involvement. Employers are compared to other organizations in their field to determine which offer the most progressive and forward-thinking programs. The annual competition is open to any employer with its head office in Saskatchewan; employers of any size may apply, whether private or public sector.
Founded in 1992, Mediacorp Canada Inc. is the nation’s largest publisher of employment periodicals. Since 1999, the Toronto-based publisher has managed the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project, which includes 18 regional and special-interest editorial competitions that reach over 13 million Canadians annually through a variety of magazine and newspaper partners. Mediacorp also operates Eluta.ca, the largest Canadian job search engine, which includes editorial reviews from the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project and is now used by almost 8 million users in Canada each year. Mediacorp also organizes the Top Employer Summit, Canada’s largest annual conference for senior-level HR professionals.
The full list of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers for 2019 is attached. This year’s winners were announced today in a special magazine published in the Regina Leader-Post and Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Detailed reasons for selection, with dozens of additional stories and photos, were released this morning and are accessible via the competition homepage.
Saskatchewan’s Top Employers
3sHealth / Health Shared Services Saskatchewan, Regina
Access Communications Co-operative Ltd., Regina
ClearTech Industries Inc., Saskatoon
Cornerstone Credit Union Financial Group Limited, Yorkton
Creative Options Regina, Inc., Regina
Group Medical Services / GMS Insurance Inc., Regina
Harvard Developments Inc., Regina
Information Services Corporation / ISC, Regina
ISM Canada, Regina
K+S Potash Canada GP, Saskatoon
Pattison Agriculture Limited, Swift Current
Ranch Ehrlo Society, Regina
Saskatchewan Apprenticeship and Trade Certification Commission, Regina
Saskatchewan Blue Cross, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Construction Safety Association, Regina
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation / SCIC, Melville
Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority / SIGA, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies / SIIT, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Research Council / SRC, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board, Regina
Saskatoon Police Service, Saskatoon
Saskatoon, City of, Saskatoon
Solvera Solutions, Regina
Southeast College, Weyburn
Synergy Credit Union Ltd., Lloydminster
University of Regina, Regina
SOURCE Mediacorp Canada Inc.
For further information: Anthony Meehan, Publisher, 416-964-6069 x1464
“These solution-seekers want to tackle problems head on. This is not your traditional way of doing business.”
When you’ve got a big question with no clear answer, it’s time to innovate.
That’s what drew Glenda Tarnowski to Royal Roads Graduate Certificate in Corporate Social Innovation program.
As the director of professional practice for the College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Alberta (CLPNA), Tarnowski provides leadership support to licenced practical nurses (LPNs) in the delivery of safe, patient-centered care.
As the healthcare landscape changes and an aging population increases, so does the need for specialized and responsive healthcare.
She, along with the leadership team at CLPNA asked themselves, “How do we best prepare LPNs to meet the care needs of the changing demographic?”
Social innovation was made for questions like these, says Colleen McCormick, who teaches in the graduate certificate program and brings the principles and practices of social innovation alive as director of Connected Communities BC in the Ministry of Citizens’ Services.
“Social innovation is about co-creating solutions with the people who are living the problems,” she says. “Bringing diverse people and sectors together to radically collaborate on addressing a complex issue at the systems level is what makes the field of social innovation so fascinating to study and play in.”
McCormick says social innovators are driven by social impact, so they don’t care much for “Band-Aid” fixes.
“These solution-seekers want to tackle problems head on. This is not your traditional way of doing business.”
The six-month program is offered through Professional and Continuing Studies and is designed for those looking to incorporate social concerns and solutions into the very fabric of their organizations—whether in government, business or the non-profit sector.
Michael Lavis is the executive director for Creative Options Regina (COR), a non-profit organization that provides supports for adults and youth experiencing disability. He registered for the program to help him identify blind spots within the organization.
“The program is helping us better understand what drives innovation and to dissect and build a strong, healthy vibrant organization that has value for stakeholders,” he says.
Lavis says COR realized the benefit of focusing not only on the people who access supports, but also on caregivers. He says COR knows a strong, vibrant care team is key to providing exceptional care.
“We intentionally shifted our focus and looked at who all of our stakeholders are and what we’re doing to nurture those relationships,” he says. “The program is really helping us frame that.”
Assoc. Prof. Robert Mittelman, one of the program designers, says organizations are increasingly looking to build social needs into their business models.
“Corporate social innovation is about looking forward. It’s about using an intervention to address a social issue, whether it’s a new product, service or a change to how your organization operates,” Mittelman says. “It’s about putting that social issue at the centre of your business strategy.”
The blended program includes three applied courses that introduce participants to the foundations of corporate social innovation, design thinking and the principles of measurement and scale.
“Students go back to their organizations the next day, after a new module is released, and build change right from the start of the program,” Mittelman says.
August 28, 2018
By: Lisa Weighton
Mastermind Toys and Creative Options Regina
The result? These two organizations have earned exemplary reputations with the communities they serve and enjoy unusually high staff retention rates for their industries.
Mastermind has a unique philosophy for selling children’s toys and books. By fostering an educational approach, the company enriches not only the customer experience but the employee experience as well. In fact, they enjoy an average employee tenure of close to seven years — an almost unheard-of retention rate in retail stores.
Ryan Thorson, store manager of Mastermind Toys Terra Losa in Edmonton, Alberta, believes that the company’s workplace culture promotes a fun and inviting atmosphere that lives up to their motto: “We take play seriously.”
“I wanted to find a company where I could not only pursue career advancement,” Thorson says, “but also have it be a place that shares my values… a family-like atmosphere and a track record for treating its employees with fairness and respect.”
Mastermind was originally opened in 1984 by brothers Andy and Jon Levy in Toronto to sell educational software to families excited about their new home computers. Two years later, they opened a store in the Ontario Science Centre. Now with 60 stores across the country, and growing, Mastermind’s CEO, Jon Levy, understands the impact that his company can have on the communities where the stores are located.
In 2015, the company launched a partnership with WE (formerly Free the Children), a charity that supports youth education in Canada and overseas. In 2016, Mastermind stores raised $400,000, but the initiative isn’t just about giving back to the community; it’s also about engaging employees.
“Anne [Baston, vice-president of marketing] and I started to talk about the charitable side of our business and what we could do to broaden our horizons from the standpoint of how our employees were engaged charitably,” says Levy.
After much deliberation and brainstorming, the company selected WE. Its educational mandate plays well with Mastermind’s objective to sell toys that educate.
When they launched the initiative, many of the company’s younger employees were already familiar with WE from their school days. Selecting a charity with broad appeal, and that their employees were already comfortable with, made for a smooth, easy transference of enthusiasm from the top down. To drive home the impact that they are making through their charitable efforts, Mastermind takes managers of the stores that raise the most funds to Kenya on a yearly basis.
“Behind every great manager is up to 60 employees that get that store to greatness. Two store managers went with me and my wife, Karyn, who also works in the organization, the first year. The rest of their teams back in Canada got a fantastic reward package … Even though they didn’t go on the trip, they were highly congratulated with lots of prizing.”
Levy is always on the lookout for ways to connect with his employees. He started creating videos for the staff that, in addition to educating about a product, also introduces him to all employees in a playful, easygoing manner. This, in turn, helps break down uncomfortable hierarchy in the organization.
“Our inner kid, the way we like to play and what we think resonates with the community, really comes through in a personal way [with this] video program… so, it’s kind of fun,” he says. “When I visit stores, the newly hired staff say, ‘I know you, you’re on the video.’”
“Every store you go into, whether it’s out in B.C. or in Nova Scotia, it feels like family,” says Baston. “There’s a community feeling to all of the stores. Despite the fact that we’re growing… Mastermind does a really good job of hiring people with similar values. You can feel that when you walk into the stores, into the home office. I think that makes it very different from other retailers.”
Creative Options Regina (COR)
A culture of gentleness is woven into all aspects of the organization at COR — not just in how the individuals and families COR serves are treated, but in the people it hires and how each employee is mentored.
Michael Lavis, executive director, says that their method of “gentle teaching” is not specific to disability but rather can be applied to all people constructing supports for marginalized populations. “There are a handful of organizations — I think there are four of us now in Canada — working on this philosophy… which is really the foundation, the bedrock of the work that we do. And this is rooted in whether or not a person feels safe and valued — putting relationships at the core of care giving,” says Lavis.
The company is the seventh-largest care provider in Saskatchewan and employs 200 staff who serve 20% of the most challenging cases in the province’s service delivery system. Like other service providers, COR is contracted by the government to provide personalized support services for people with disabilities. What differentiates them from other providers, though, is the intentional shift they made to focus on their employees — the caregivers.
“By making that shift — by making sure we are nurturing our caregivers and that our employees are feeling cared for — what ends up happening is they give the utmost care to [our clients],” says Lavis. “So, it’s shifting the focus as an organization to our employees — to what the employee experience looks like, what the employee wants, what they need from us to feel supported and how we can really understand what is meaningful to our employees.”
Organizational culture is a popular topic these days, but Lavis challenges people to go one step further and work on shared values, as he feels that that has the greatest influence on culture. “What drives culture is value alignment. That’s something we’ve focused on, understanding the values of our employees … and where we see that alignment and shared common purpose,” he says.
In the Saskatchewan disability services sector the employee turnover rate was around 60% in 2015. By contrast, the turnover rate at COR has remained at a steady 9 – 14% since the company’s inception.
Creating a caring staff atmosphere is about understanding who is working for you and what is important to them. For most employees, a fair wage is critical. But for many that is only a small piece of a larger picture. There are other crucial factors, such as whether or not employees feel engaged and if their ideas and suggestions are listened to and valued. At COR, they have found that exploring employees’ passions and helping them bring those passions to life in the workplace is key.
“We have to have that conversation with our employees, because we need to know what it is that they want and need and whether that is something we are able to provide,” says Lavis.
Helping employees bring their passions into the workplace enables them to impart important life skills. For example, one COR employee who loves cooking offered to teach other employees to cook. As the average staffers’ age is 28, this is a skill that some of them may lack. COR helped the employee develop a monthly cooking class with regular attendance of 10-15 staff, who can now pass that skill onto COR clients.
Lavis says they plan to develop an art initiative next. The idea was brought to him by two employees who wanted to share their passion for art. “It’s a pivotal moment,” says Lavis. “A matter of us saying, ‘Yeah. I’d love to help you. How are we going to do this?’
“It’s easy to think of barriers of why they can’t do it. And that takes the wind out of their sails. But, by saying, ‘I love this idea. We just have to think it through a little bit more. Let’s talk.’ — Then, they are motivated and energized, and you know what? [Here we are now] developing an art studio. There were lots of barriers, but we have been able to work through [them] to be able to see it realized.”
Lavis believes that a customer-centric focus has actually harmed many companies. “People tend to focus on the customer and forget about their employees,” he says. “I think that, whether it’s a for-profit or not-for-profit business, if we want to provide the utmost care for those we are contracted to provide services to, that starts with us caring for our employees. If they feel well cared for, they are going to provide great care.”
The Dream Initiative started as little more than an idea with wide eye aspirations. Like most ideas, once they take root in our minds they drive and push us to test the limits of possibility and reality. Sometimes it is the simplest of ideas that make the biggest difference and develop the most profound outcomes!
The Goal? To provide the folks that we serve opportunity to lead the lives that they choose. We have the ability and the means to dream big! If we want to take a holiday- we save for it. If we want to become more active and independent we can buy a car or bicycle. The truth; many of our life’s goals are achievable and attainable and in many cases, this is done so with that help of our support systems. Why should the folks we serve everyday not be afforded the same courtesy and support?!
This last August the Dream Team with the help of the Supports at Creative Options Regina, were able to fund-raise enough money to send one of our own to Edmonton for a weekend of shopping, fun, and most importantly, memory making! This was not an easy task, but through meaningful support driven initiatives and a commitment made by the recipient to save 5 dollars per week, we were able to get this idea off the ground and soaring in its first year.
As part of the Dream Team, I just want to say that I am humbled by the outburst of support from everyone at all levels of our organization, as well as external support from our many friends in our community. Thank you for every part you played; whether it was supporting one of our appreciation nights, helping out at our booth at the Cathedral Village Arts Festival, getting blasted with paintballs, or sharing your voice in one of the art initiatives!
Community Education and Outreach
Watch Serena’s Dream Trip come to life!
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