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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.”

View Article on the online.

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.

COR named recipient of Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities, supported by the Bayer Fund

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.

 

Conexus Kindness Capital Fund Recipient — THANK YOU!

COR is a proud recipient of the 2020 Conexus Kindness Capital Fund! A HUGE THANK-YOU to our entire COR family for their commitment and dedication to making a difference during these challenging times. You are all truly an inspiration and we are so incredibly grateful!

Thank you Conexus for encouraging a return on kindness by recognizing 40 individuals and businesses with $5,000 to continue their acts of kindness. You are a community champion! We are humbled by your recognition.

Learn more at: https://www.kindnesscapital.ca/

 

 

 

True Clean Solutions and COR: Partnering to Keep the COR Family Safe

How True Clean Solutions helps group homes through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Because you can never do too much for the people you care for most.

For Creative Options Regina (COR), that includes staff and residents they work with daily. In fact, they are considered family, which is why Michael Lavis, executive director at COR, took an extra step to ensure their health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With cleanliness and sanitization practices now top of mine, COR enlisted the services of True Clean Solutions to provide an additional layer of disinfection in each of the homes where caregivers and residents interact.

COR provides in-home support through gentle teaching for adults and youth with disabilities and mental health struggles.

“We felt it was important to enhance the safety, the feeling of safety and the cleaning protocols in each of our homes,” Lavis explained. “Disinfecting and sanitization are absolutely critical, particularly during the pandemic. It is our responsibility to do everything that we can to keep our employees and the people we care about safe.”

In doing so, in-home managers and residents gained a greater peace of mind.

True Clean Solutions uses a product that is approved by Health Canada. Its technicians have received thorough instruction on how to safely enter and exit a home or business and they relay that information to clients prior to product application.

“(True Clean Solutions) took the time to explain to us what this product is,” Lavis said. “They walked us through the entire process. They supported our employees by providing them with the necessary information and made sure everyone was comfortable with their work prior to commencing their work.”

Being transparent and forthcoming with information related to the disinfecting process and the products used solidified Lavis’ confidence in proceeding with the service.

“Their level of customer service in helping to ensure that people felt comfortable with the product they were going to be using in their homes was something that really stood out to me,” Lavis said.

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s to be more mindful of cleanliness and personal hygiene and how they affect our overall health.

Visit truecleansolutions.com to learn more about their service and to receive an online quote.

Full Article Available Here.

 

CTV Morning Show: Supporting Our Community Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Today, our COR family was thrilled to be featured on CTV Morning Live sharing how we are supporting our community amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch the video segment below!

https://regina.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=1953313

Proud to be a 2020 Saskatchewan Top Employer!

A deep reservoir of outstanding workplace practices: ‘Saskatchewan’s Top Employers’ for 2020 are announced’

REGINA, Feb. 12, 2020 – Saskatchewan’s economic fortunes might be slowly turning the corner, but employers in the province are increasingly taking steps to improve their workplace practices and human resource policies. The best of these programs were recognized today, as Saskatchewan’s Top Employers for 2020 were announced by Mediacorp Canada Inc., organizers of the annual Canada’s Top 100 Employers project.

“We continue to see a deep reservoir of outstanding workplace practices in Saskatchewan,” says Richard Yerema, Managing Editor of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. In good economic times and otherwise, Saskatchewan employers are a source of progressive human resource policies that the rest of Canada would do well to study. This year, our editorial team paid particular attention to initiatives that aren’t costly or expensive – but make a meaningful difference in employees’ lives. These kinds of programs raise the bar, as other employers can easily emulate and improve upon them.”

This year’s list of winners comprises 30 employers from across the province, with good representation from most areas of Saskatchewan’s economy. These employers lead their peers when it comes to programs such as: helping employees balance work with family commitments; engaging employees to make a difference in the community; developing employees’ skills and training so they are ready for tomorrow’s economy; improving employee health and wellness, particularly mental health; and helping staff prepare for the second half of their careers and life after work.

“These are challenging times as the economy regains strength in Saskatchewan and across Western Canada,” adds Kristina Leung, Senior Editor at Mediacorp. “But after 15 years, we can say with confidence that the province’s best employers take the long view, paying attention to the needs and aspirations of their employees. Saskatchewan is the place where many of the values that define Canada were formed – when it comes to progressive workplaces and forward-thinking employers, it’s no different. The province is still a quiet leader, with some of the best employers in the nation.”

Some of the initiatives noted by the editors include:

  • Along with generous vacation allowance, Saskatchewan Research Council helps employees recharge, with up to 18 additional paid ‘flex days’ per year – a portion 2 of which must be scheduled during winter holidays and up to 10 unused days may be paid out in cash at the end of the year.
  • Yorkton-based Cornerstone Credit Union provides tuition subsidies for employees who enrol in outside institutions and academic scholarships for employees’ children pursuing post-secondary studies (to $1,000).
  • Potash manufacturer Nutrien supported over 2,500 charities and community groups in the past year, focusing efforts on food solutions, youth and education, health and safety, and community building – the company encourages employees to invest their time as well, providing one paid day each year to volunteer.
  • Saskatchewan Polytechnic provides maternity leave top-up payments for new mothers, new fathers and adoptive parents (to 100 per cent of salary for 17 weeks) – and the option for employees to extend paid leave into an unpaid leave of absence.
  • Regina-based property manager and developer Harvard Developments offers an IVF subsidy (to $12,000) and provides maternity leave top-up for new mothers (to 100 per cent of salary for 17 weeks).
  • Information Services Corp. / ISC, based in Regina, helps employees plan for the future with retirement planning assistance and a defined contribution pension plan – employees nearing retirement can also take advantage of phased-in work options.

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the Saskatchewan’s Top Employers competition, a special designation that recognizes employers in the province that lead their industries in offering exceptional places to work. Employers 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 15 million Canadians annually through a variety of magazine and newspaper partners. Mediacorp also operates Eluta.ca, one of Canada’s largest job search engines, which reaches millions of users annually and features editorial reviews from the Canada’s Top 100 Employers project. Mediacorp also hosts

Canada’s largest conference for senior-level HR professionals, the Top Employer Summit. This year’s conference took place in November and featured a performance by Coeur de Pirate, one of the most popular musicians in the French-speaking world.

The full list of Saskatchewan’s Top Employers for 2020 was announced today in a special magazine published in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post. Detailed reasons for selection for each of the winners, with hundreds of stories and photos, were released by the editors today and are accessible via the competition homepage.

Further information:
Stephanie Leung, Assistant Editor, 416-964-6069 x5334

Source: Mediacorp Canada Inc. www.mediacorp.ca

 

Saskatchewan’s Top Employers 2020 Winners

3sHealth / Health Shared Services Saskatchewan, Regina
Access Communications Co-operative, Regina
Cornerstone Credit Union Financial Group, Yorkton
Creative Options Regina, Regina
Flaman Sales Ltd., Saskatoon
Fries Tallman Lumber Ltd., Regina
Group Medical Services / GMS Insurance, Regina
Harvard Developments Inc., Regina
Information Services Corp. / ISC, Regina
ISM Canada, Regina
K+S Potash Canada GP, Saskatoon
Mosaic Company, The, Regina
Nutrien, Saskatoon
Pattison Agriculture Ltd., Swift Current
Ranch Ehrlo Society, Regina
Saskatchewan Apprenticeship & Trade Certification Commission, Regina

Saskatchewan Blue Cross, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corp., Melville
Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Liquor & Gaming Authority, Regina
Saskatchewan Polytechnic, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon
Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board, Regina
Saskatoon, City of
Saskatoon Police Service
SaskPower, Regina
SaskTel, Regina
Southeast College, Weyburn
Synergy Credit Union, Lloydminster
Vaderstad Industries Inc., Langbank

Regina Leader-Post: Celebrating the Value of Every Person

On December 3rd, 2019, COR was featured in the Regina Leader-Post in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

Read the article below:

To view online, visit: https://www.pressreader.com/canada/regina-leader-post/20191203/282175062982247

Proceeds from 2019 India Night donated to 4to40

 

Read the story on the UofR website: https://www.uregina.ca/external/communications/feature-stories/current/2019/11-07.html