Feb 7th, 2023
Awards: Employee Support and Continuous Improvement, Beyond the Top Employer
Share this story
Ottawa Community Housing Corporation aims to create a diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects the communities we serve.
We work hard to develop programs that improve the financial, physical and mental well-being of our staff. We also engage with employees on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives and create safe spaces for open dialogue.
Six Employee Resource Groups have been launched since the initiative began in 2019. They are:
- Telling HERstory
- Anti-Racism / BIPOC
- Rainbow Resource Group
- Wellness Committee
- Diversity of Thought
- Multi-Generational Workforce.
What is the outcome?
By creating a safe and supportive environment for employees, we retain staff who strive to make a difference in OCHC neighbourhoods and the greater community. We also ensure that staff have the awareness to help them better support and serve some of our vulnerable residents.
“I see firsthand what an impact staff makes in OCHC communities and how hard they work to improve tenants’ lives. I am proud that we stand behind them and provide the support they need to continue making a difference,” said Stéphane Giguère, Chief Executive Officer of Ottawa Community Housing Corporation.
How employee support is reflected in OCHC programming
As part of our commitment to building better communities, OCHC operates an Employee Engagement Program, which gives staff the space to give back to the greater community by working on projects such as harvesting food at the Ottawa Food Bank Farm or community beautification such as building garden boxes or benches to facilitate outdoor gathering spaces. In 2022, staff spent 700 hours involved in projects that helped support community partners such as the Ottawa Mission, Ottawa Food Bank and the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
At OCHC, staff support each other through Brown Bag information sessions. This quarterly meeting is open to all OCHC employees and is facilitated by our peer support volunteers. Each session tackles relevant mental health topics and is designed to be interactive so that employees can have a conversation and share experiences to learn from each other.
The first four sessions were held as part of the newly launched Peer Support Program in 2022. Employees designed this program for employees.
In addition to OCHC-driven wellness initiatives, our Human Resources team worked to ensure employees are supported with award-winning health and wellness benefits. Those who are using the programs are seeing the benefits. Ottawa Community Housing Corporation employees can access an Employee and Family Assistance Program. Our provider tells us that program participants report a 32 percent improvement in clinical symptoms – which is at par with the client average.
Making dollars go further
To support employees’ financial wellness – OCHC launched the WorkPerks – an employee discount program in 2021. Since its launch, employees have saved more than $17,000 on various goods and services.
What’s on the horizon for 2023?
OCHC is committed to continuing to work on integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into everything that we do. To do that, we are focused on embedding inclusivity into our overall corporate culture through an inclusion lens approach in reviewing our procedures, hiring processes, corporate competencies, and communications, to name a few. The goal is to create a culture of inclusion and belonging that is lived through the employee’s experience.
“We strive to create diverse, inclusive workspaces that are reflective of the communities we serve. Through that work, we hope to foster a culture of collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence,” said Shaun Simms, Chief People and Communications Officer.
Moving forward, we are looking to bring these initiatives closer to the tenants in OCHC communities. To do so, we will leverage current partnerships and the work of our engaged Community Development Team and launch new collaborations with community organizations.