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Posted by on Jan 2021 in All Stories, Features, Sector leadership, Sector voices, Slider, Uncategorized | 0 comments

More than just a landlord, OCHC works to build better communities 

Ottawa Community Housing Corporation is building a reputation as a caring landlord and social housing provider. We instituted tenant and community support-focused services while proactively addressing the challenges of an aging housing stock and greater service demands. Along with a robust portfolio renewal strategy, energy conservation plan, and integrating technology systems to support growing demands, OCHC  uses those tools to help tenants in their journey through the affordable housing system.    

2020 Most Admired Corporate Culture  

OCHC’s resilience as an organization and our drive for improvement both in the lives of tenants and as an employer were compelling factors in being chosen as one of the recipients of  Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ from Waterstone Human Capital in 2020. 

A visual representation  of OCHC's corporate culture - refer to accompanying caption

To bring the culture statements to life and celebrate OCHC’s shared values and experience, employees’ stories were brought together in a visual tapestry that reflects how staff “makes a difference every day” in the lives of OCHC tenants and highlights what makes OCHC a meaningful place to work

Defining OCHC’s culture roadmap

OCHC’s decision to commit to organizational culture as a driver of change was intended to focus on what we do and why we do it. How? By working collectively to innovate, empathize, effectively support tenants, and build healthy communities.    

In 2017, CEO Stéphane Giguère introduced the position of Vice-President, People and Culture. In early 2018, OCHC developed its first multi-year Culture Roadmap by engaging employees throughout a three-stage plan: defining the current and desired culture, setting the foundation, and building structures and supports. The Roadmap also considered the goals of OCHC’s 10-Year Strategic Plan, along with its commitment to corporate social responsibility, to enable continued success.   

The COVID-19  resiliencytest 

A specialized team of OCHC maintenance workers, were equipped and trained to complete urgent repairs in homes where there could be an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19.

When the COVID-19 pandemic unexpectedly struck in March 2020, OCHC’s leadership role as one of the City of Ottawa’s key stakeholders became integral to manage the continually evolving situation. With over 32,000 tenants in 15,000 homes spread across the city, the focus quickly turned to maintaining the delivery of critical services with considerations to staff and tenant safety and engagement and business continuity.  We quickly pivoted approximately 70 per cent of our workforce to remote work. Ultimately, this revealed the extent of the adaptability and resiliency of OCHC employees at all levels of the corporation.    

As Ontario’s second-largest social housing provider, OCHC was declared an essential service by the province. A key component of the operational response — one that balanced employee health, safety, and wellbeing with delivering critical services — was the formation of a task force of maintenance workers who were properly equipped and trained to complete urgent repairs in homes where there could be an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19. From the employees who joined the task force voluntarily, to the frontline essential staff going above and beyond to support tenants and communities, and the office colleagues who have pivoted seamlessly to provide services from home, the OCHC team is a true testament to our culture of care, and a demonstration of our commitment to the communities we serve.   

“We are proud because every day we make a difference.”    

Ottawa Community Housing staff member pictured at the Ottawa Food Bank Farm during an employee engagement event in September. The OCH employee engagement program was launched in 2015 and provides an opportunity for staff to give back to the greater community. The Food Bank relies heavily on volunteers to run their Community Harvest Program each year, with volunteers providing more than 4,400 hours of manual labor each season.

OCHC’s C.A.R.E values – Collaboration, Accountability, Respect, and Excellence – are at the core of our corporate culture and statement. These values propel our organization to be one of continuous improvement. As we look towards the future, the next phase of the strategy will consider the following:    

  • Diversity and inclusion – leading initiatives that better reflect and engage the diverse communities that we serve.   
  • Mental health and well-being – supporting a healthy workplace with a wellness committee, an annual wellness benefit, and a top-notch benefits program.    
  • Remote work – supporting employees to continue working offsite to access the appropriate equipment and increased access to virtual health care services.   
  • New development and re-development – creating healthy communities and enhancing sustainability by improving access to affordable housing while protecting the environment.    

“OCHC is proud of its employees’ commitment and strength in achieving great work,” Giguère says. “We strive to create a work environment that focuses on employees taking leadership that achieves our mission and values. We look forward to continuing on our culture journey.”  

This post was authored by Ottawa Community Housing Corporation as a part of ONPHA’s Blog Takeover series. Click here to read about OCHC’s pivot towards environmental sustainability as they increase their affordable housing units. 

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