Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017)
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 6, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why BASF Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2016):
- BASF Canada offers maternity and parental leave top-up payments for employees who are new mothers and fathers (including adoptive parents), to 100% of salary for up to 17 weeks -- head office employees can also take advantage of a privately operated daycare located onsite
- BASF Canada helps employees prepare for the future with year-end bonuses, retirement planning assistance, employer contributions to a defined contribution pension plan and health benefits that extend to retirees, with no age limit
- Employees at BASF Canada are encouraged to connect and share their stories with colleagues from across North America through the in-house "eTV" employee television network -- the initiative features employee video blogs and offers company news and information
BASF creates chemistry in every way
With almost 700 employees and 11 production sites and offices across Canada, BASF Canada Inc. strives to create good chemistry with its employees and customers from coast to coast.
"It's critical to be close to our customers," says Marcelo Lu, President of BASF Canada.
With its head office in Mississauga, Ont., the company provides chemistry-based products and solutions for customers in a range of industries, from agriculture, electronics and construction to pharmaceuticals, automotive paints and coatings.
"We pride ourselves in being an innovative and dynamic organization," says Lu. "Our company strategy is: 'We create chemistry for a sustainable future'. Our employees work together to turn that strategy into reality. Through science and innovation, we enable our customers to meet the current and future needs of society."
While BASF offers career opportunities in roles ranging from production to finance, almost half of its employees work in customer-facing sales and marketing positions.
"Forty per cent of our employees are out in the field, working closely with our customers to help provide them with the support they need," says Paulo Springmann, Aerospace Business Development Manager for BASF Canada in Montreal.
To help employees stay connected, the company strives to create a collaborative work environment with virtual and physical resources. Through internal resource groups, for example, employees can build networks with Canadian colleagues and enhance their knowledge and skills.
"This creates a sense of community and helps employees develop personally and professionally," says Lu. "It's important for us to foster a culture where every employee feels engaged."
BASF Canada also encourages employees to connect with their colleagues through an in-house employee television network. The network accommodates employee video blogs as well as company news and information.
Paulo Springmann joined BASF Canada 11 years ago, attracted by its global scope and depth of expertise. Trained as a chemical engineer, he spent nine years in the company's automotive segment before moving into aerospace.
"In aerospace, we're pushing the envelope," he says. "What was standard in the industry 10 years ago is obsolete today. We're always moving forward."
That forward momentum began more than 150 years ago in Baden, a German territory, where Badische Anilin & Sodafabrik started manufacturing aniline and sodium carbonate. BASF went on to pioneer innovations such as synthetic dyes for clothing, nitrogen fertilizer, magnetic tape, polystyrene and the first three-way catalyst for automobiles. The company now operates in almost every country in the world, employs about 112,000 people and generated sales in 2015 of ?70 billion.
"BASF has production facilities and offices around the globe," says Lu, "so we can offer an exciting variety of roles and opportunities for international development."
To further engage employees and provide access to its global resources, BASF Canada recently formed the Offsite Employee Resource Group (OERG).
"It's a diverse mix of employees from various business units, functions and geographic locations," says Springmann, a member of the OERG. "We want to help deliver information and support to offsite employees and develop initiatives to create a collaborative, efficient work environment."
The goal is to help give employees more time to dedicate directly to their customers.
"That is the essence of our strategy: all of our employees working towards solutions that help our customers conserve resources, ensure good nutrition, and improve quality of life," says Lu. "We're looking for the next generation of leaders and innovators to help bring our solutions to life and join us in our journey of creating chemistry for a sustainable future."
Starring now on eTV - your fellow BASF employees
You've heard of CTV and MTV. How about eTV? You've heard of it if you work at BASF, the world's largest chemical producer. That's where they watch Employee TV, or eTV, a program that started at the Mississauga headquarters of BASF Canada Inc.
Jamie Apfelbeck was involved in the creation. Now Internal Communications Manager in Mississauga, he was working in IT some four years ago when the idea of sharing staff videos was broached. It came from a group of employees responding to BASF's Simply Dare program, which encourages people throughout the company to suggest improvements and innovations.
Apfelbeck became part of the team that implemented eTV, which took its original inspiration from Citytv's "Speaker's Corner" feature. Employees were recorded talking about their work or their ideas for improving company processes in short videos of around two minutes, which were posted on the local intranet.
"It really caught on," says Apfelbeck. After starting as a Canada-wide platform, eTV spread across North America. Now anyone at BASF locations in Canada and the U.S. can record videos for eTV, and anyone in the global company, which is headquartered in Germany, can watch.
Today there are four video categories - Drive, for ideas; Faces, for employees to introduce themselves; bSAFE (a play on BASF), to encourage safety; and Only at BASF, where people describe experiences at work. The videos are also shown on the company's informational LCD screens.
"It turned into something that no matter where you are in the organization, whether you're a top executive or in sales or in production, you have this platform where you can share your ideas and thoughts," Apfelbeck says. "And your audience is the whole company."
To Terri Howard, Director, Human Resources, for BASF Canada, eTV is a perfect example of how the company does things. "It really demonstrates what we call our CORE values - creative, open, responsible and entrepreneurial," she says. "It was created in line with those values, and it was also an opportunity to engage our employees. It's been really well received."
In Canada, BASF employees are largely involved in sales, marketing and production - agricultural products make up the largest business unit - along with corporate functions and a small research and development group. In the Greater Toronto Area, BASF has the Mississauga head office and production facilities in Brampton and Toronto that primarily manufacture construction-related chemical products.
But about 40 per cent of Canadian employees only sometimes visit a BASF office - most of the sales team, including in the GTA, work from home and go out to meet clients directly. They still network with other employees at company meetings and events, however, and Apfelbeck - who himself works from home two days a week - often uses such opportunities to record the visiting employees for eTV.
Howard says BASF is a particularly good fit for people who are drawn to large organizations. "Our applicants often talk about the greater opportunities within a big company, whether it's advancement, or training and development, or the wide variety of areas to work in," she says.
An engineer by trade, Apfelbeck says he has benefited from BASF's support for career development. After 18 years in IT, his work on the eTV project led to him joining the corporate communications team and taking on his current role overseeing internal communications.
"It's a big change for me but I'm really enjoying it," he says. "I think it's really cool that I got the opportunity to make the jump. It says something about the company - they really value, enable and encourage this kind of career progression."
Sounds like a good video for eTV.