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 Bayer was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2017), Ten Best Companies to Work For (2016) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2017):
- Bayer cultivates an ownership culture through a share purchase plan, available to all employees -- additionally, the organization offers a range of additional financial benefits, including signing bonuses for some employees, year-end bonuses for all and referral bonuses of up to $3,000
- Bayer helps employees prepare for the future with contributions to a matching RSP plan and defined contribution pension (depending on their position), retirement planning assistance and health benefits that extend to retirees (with no age limit)
- As part of the company's charitable program, Bayer supports a number of local, national and international organizations each year and encourages employees to get active in their local communities by providing paid time off to volunteer
Engaging in a positive corporate culture at Bayer
When Sheila Lavell joined Bayer two decades ago, she was not looking for a promotion. Nor was she seeking a bigger salary. "What I wanted was a company with values I could embrace,"she says. "I wanted a job where employees are highly engaged, valued and trusted."
For Lavell, Bayer has turned out to be just that place. But before accepting the global life science company's job offer as a regional sales manager, Lavell met with several people at Bayer's Mississauga, Ont., Canadian head office. "Friends working at Bayer had told me it was special, and I experienced that right away," she recalls. "Everyone I met was consistently positive, proud to be a Bayer employee and highly engaged with their work."
All these years later, she sums it up: "I came for the corporate culture - and I stayed for the corporate culture."
Nowadays, Lavell works from her St. Catharines, Ont., home office two days a week and is in the field the other three days, supporting her southwestern Ontario sales force. "Working remotely provides me with a great work-life balance," she says. "That balance would be even better if I turned off my computer! But I love my work so much."
Lavell remains, by choice, a regional sales manager. "Working remotely suits my personal needs," she says. Lavell also knows that the company does not stereotype people who stay in their jobs as unambitious lifers. "Every year," she says, "I attend an array of incredible professional development courses. The company wants to make sure I grow, and so do I. Should I want to move up the corporate ladder or to another area, I know I would be supported."
Lynda Newcomb, Bayer's Vice President, Human Resources, also joined the company because of its values and the people she met. "From our CEO to our managers and employees, everyone wants to help each other," she says. "And we all have a desire to make a positive difference in people's lives."
At Bayer, there are lots of opportunities for that. It is best known for over-the-counter medications such as ASPIRIN and, more recently, trusted brands such as Coppertone and Claritin. Bayer also has substantial prescription drug and Crop Science divisions. "People join Bayer because they want to contribute," Newcomb says. "It could be by developing and providing products for people's well-being or helping to find ways of feeding the earth's growing population."
And once people join, they tend to stay. Bayer boasts an annual average retention rate of some 94 per cent and employee satisfaction levels at 92 per cent or more. Those enviable numbers help explain why Bayer has made the Canada's Top 100 Employers list for 10 years running. "A decade on the list shows we are not a flavour of the month," Newcomb says. "It does show we are constantly innovating and committed to helping people develop to their potential."
Generous industry-leading benefit programs reflect Bayer's philosophy that corporate financial health relies on recognizing and rewarding employees. Among the notable benefits are: two paid days off for volunteering for a charity of an employee's choice; health benefits for retirees; generous matching savings and stock purchase plans; and up to 12 weeks of salary top-up for maternity and parental leaves with eight weeks for compassionate care.
But none of that is what drives Lavell to perform. "Don't misunderstand. It's great to have such fantastic benefits," she says, "but it's just as important to be in a work environment where you are valued, challenged and supported. You can't put a price on that!"
Bayer supports employees to achieve their goals
When Kate Dinham drives to work at the Mississauga, Ont., head office of Bayer, she doesn't have to worry about parking. Behind the wheel of her hybrid, she passes the first-come, first-serve, free employee lot and pulls up next to the building into a spot reserved for green vehicles like hers. It even comes equipped with a plug-in to charge her vehicle while she is at her desk inside.
Dedicated parking for environmentally friendly vehicles is one small indication of Bayer's commitment to building a healthier future for the global population. "Our mission, Science for a Better Life, truly comes to life in our workplace," says Bayer President & CEO Alok Kanti. "Our focus on innovation inspires employees to contribute to their fullest potential."
Dinham agrees. "I love my marketing job, and when you are doing something to make people's lives better, it's a great feeling," she says.
A Senior Brand Manager for Bayer's Consumer Health foot care products, including Dr. Scholl's, Dinham says she moved to Bayer about 18 months ago for two reasons - its positive corporate culture and its opportunities for advancement. "There's definitely an alignment with my values," she says. "Bayer wants to build a better planet, and they support you to develop to your potential while giving you lots of opportunities to grow. It's empowering."
For example, Dinham says previous employers would, at most, offer half-day training and development sessions while at Bayer she has already been sent for week-long leadership courses. Adds Kanti: "Our career development programs focus on the individual strengths of each employee, rather than on their weaknesses. This motivates both employees and managers to fully explore development in a positive way."
Another head office motivator comes from its award-winning physical space. It is truly open concept. Even Kanti's workstation is in full view. When the facilities were renovated two years ago, the idea was to create collaboration by breaking down walls. Dinham says the openness was a definite plus for her as a relatively new employee. "It was a great way to meet my fellow coworkers quickly and make friends with people in other departments," she says.
This year, the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario presented Bayer with its Award of Merit, citing its "innovative new design" that lowered workstation panels and increased natural light. It also praised the new cafeteria and outdoor spaces that contribute to employee health and welfare.
Kanti is a big fan of the design. "Our GTA office is remarkable," he says. "Our views are inspiring, with sweeping sights of downtown Toronto on one side and flight activity at Toronto Pearson International Airport on the other."
For Dinham, the onsite gym with its 40-minute lunchtime fitness classes is also a big plus, along with the new cafeteria's healthy and economical meals. "Bayer really does encourage well-being and self care," she says.
Dinham also appreciates how Bayer supports her personal finance goals. The company matches employee savings contributions of up to three per cent of salary. For stock purchases, Bayer employees can contribute up to two per cent of salary and receive a 50-per-cent match.
Bayer will also match employee charitable contributions up to $200 annually and provides two days off with pay for volunteer activities. Other perks include discounts on Bayer products, an employee recognition program that offers gifts, experiential and cash awards, as well as company-paid outings.
Employees can also personally tailor health, dental and wellness requirements under the company's benefits program. Says Kanti: "The mix reflects the needs of each employee, whether it be help in caring for an ill family member, starting their own family or a ski club membership. We believe supporting people the way they want to be supported makes for healthier, happier and more productive employees."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 9, 2017)
Here are some of the reasons why Bayer was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2017):
- Bayer manages the Bayer International Management Simulation Global Program to develop the company's younger employees for leadership roles -- the program allows participants to take on management roles through an online simulator, replicating 7 fiscal years over a 4-month period
- In partnership with the University of Toronto's Mississauga campus, Bayer offers 12-month internships to students enrolled in the Masters of Management of Innovation program -- the internship is geared towards students with a background in science and technology and provides opportunities to gain pharmaceutical industry experience
- Summer students working at Bayer receive extensive week-long training that includes themed evening activities such as a Luau, a billiard party and a Bermuda Shorts party -- the company also oversees a student blog, allowing students to share their experience with others
At Bayer, millennials are the future
Summer students at Bayer's Crop Science division are out almost every day getting their hands dirty in work that is far from routine. In the division's Saskatoon-based Environmental Affairs Group, they are often immersed in experimental farm fields, working the soil on their own and monitoring the quality of new crops. "Bayer is great for young people because it provides them with meaningful experiences," says Lee Huber, an environmental Senior Principal Investigator with the company. "They are given lots of independence, responsibilities and the chance to develop new skills."
Huber has been supervising university students during the summer for several years and enjoys the interaction with the students as much as the students appreciate the challenging work opportunities. "I learn as much from them as they do learning on the job," he says. "They bring a fresh approach, and I also learn by being with people from a younger generation."
He explains: "There's a huge difference, even between 18- and 24-year-olds. I have to understand their strengths and tailor tasks accordingly. If they're not engaged, they won't enjoy their work and they won't be as productive."
Providing a stimulating and welcoming work environment for young people is an essential element of Bayer's corporate strategy. Approximately 25 per cent of Bayer's workforce is aged 35 and under. "Millennials are the future," says Lynda Newcomb, Vice President, Human Resources. "Our summer students, especially, are our pipeline of future talent."
Bayer hires about 220 university and college students every summer, some of which are hired permanently when new positions arise. "We aim to create a positive work experience and help them grow," says Newcomb. "And the vast majority wants to continue that growth with us."
Indeed, there are numerous programs designed to help young hires find their way when starting their Bayer careers and to grow professionally. For example, in Crop Science, Technical Sales Associate summer students in their first week are invited to participate in a four-day conference that includes product training, safety training, networking opportunities and an introduction to career development discussions.
In addition, this year Bayer hired an intern from the University of Toronto's Master of Management of Innovation program who worked closely with a newly formed Innovation Council to deliver Bayer's first-ever innovation week for employees. "We believe in career flexibility and also encourage movement," says Newcomb. "At Bayer, there are many areas you can work in, both in Canada and abroad. If you want to grow, the sky's the limit."
She adds Bayer also attracts young people because it is a company determined to make a positive difference in people's lives, a major concern among that demographic. "Millennials want to contribute to a positive global future," Newcomb says.
As well as its prescription drug business, Bayer is best known for its over-the-counter medications such as ASPIRIN® and, more recently, trusted brands such as Coppertone and Claritin.
For its growing Crop Science Division, the Bayer summer student experience in one of its eight Canadian agricultural centres can be a real eye-opener. Says Huber: "From the science side, they learn what is required to grow a healthy and productive crop. And from the business side, they learn the effort it takes to bring a new product to market."
And working for Bayer can be fun as well as rewarding. "Students who are required to travel to research sites are provided a truck for the summer," he says. "And we buy their meals when we take day trips or more, so they don't have to pack a lunch. We look after those little things that make a big difference to them."
But most of all, Huber says young people at Bayer benefit from the encouragement and mentoring they receive from senior staff. "We are more than willing to train and support people as they grow," he says. "It's what we're all about."