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 (2016):
- 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!"
LIFE values and community spirit rule at Bayer
Bayer, a life sciences company based in Mississauga, Ont., has its own BNN channel - Bayer News Network at their Matheson office and plans to roll it out in other locations in 2016. BNN broadcasts company news and events from television monitors located in office kitchenettes and near elevators."This is a fun way to help staff become ambassadors of Bayer and its products and stay informed on company events and announcements," says Lynda Newcomb, Vice President, Human Resources.
Not only is the company consistently ranked a top employer in the GTA but its recent purchase of Merck's consumer care business made Bayer the number three provider of over-the-counter healthcare products in Canada.
Bayer's acquisition added household brand names Coppertone, Dr. Scholl's and Claritin to its already notable product offering including Aleve, ASPIRIN and Canesten. This created a buzz around the organization, explains Newcomb.
"There was a lot of excitement in our consumer care division about the acquisition," she says. "Employees driving into work were also proud to see our new products come to life on advertising billboards along the Gardiner Expressway this past summer."
Another recent Bayer initiative that generated employee pride was a television campaign for ASPIRIN 81mg. During a suspected heart attack, Bayer recommends calling 911 and then crushing and chewing two ASPIRIN 81mg tablets. The product is approved for this use nationwide. "Feedback on the campaign was overwhelming," says Newcomb.
At its Mississauga headquarters, the company has a modern open concept workspace to encourage staff to move around and collaborate. There are state-of-the-art meeting rooms, booths in the pantries, a patio and a cafeteria where employees can gather. Company information posters are featured on each floor, inspiring employees to continue doing great work for customers.
Bayer's workplace culture is built on its four key values: leadership, integrity, flexibility and efficiency, summarized as LIFE. The company's employee recognition program, called You Make Life Better, rewards staff who integrate these values into how they work.
Jamie Stretch, Regional Sales Manager Canada West for the Pharmaceutical Division, lives and breathes these values. He has held a range of sales and marketing roles over a 10-year career at the company and says he simply followed his interests.
"Bayer does not operate with a typical top-down structure, so employees are supported in exploring roles both vertically and horizontally," Stretch explains. "Everyone is considered unique and their voices heard and interests encouraged."
In his current role, Stretch is responsible for managing the sales team in the Ophthalmology division. As a way to stay involved and connected to patients, Stretch and his team members attend events in support of the Foundation Fighting Blindness and CNIB. When not on the road, Stretch works mainly from home in Oakville.
To familiarize new employees with the company, the Hello Bayer orientation program was introduced. Hello Bayer features a microsite about the workplace and culture plus a welcome kit with a first day checklist and benefits information. And when they arrive, a "Bayer Buddy" is assigned to take them on an office tour.
Bayer's internal social committee ensures a community spirit remains around the building for employees. The committee offers discount tickets for local attractions like events at the Mirvish Theatre and Canada's Wonderland.
Bayer has many programs and initiatives that support its LIFE values. The company's wide-ranging competitive benefits package includes matching retirement and savings programs. Bayer also has an online store where staff can purchase Bayer over-the-counter products at discounted prices and a state of the art gym on site.
"Bayer lives the culture, it doesn't just speak the culture. Taking advantage of the on-site gym over your lunch hour is easier to do when the person beside you on the treadmill is a senior executive," says Stretch. "Bayer is that kind of place, where people are approachable and the community spirit is strong."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016)
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 10, 2016)
Here are some of the reasons why Bayer was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2016):
- In partnership with the University of Calgary's Haskayne School of Business, Bayer offers a 12-month "mini MBA" program that teaches participants to plan, develop and implement real-time projects in the context of the company's business, and includes work experience outside of participants' regular day-to-day
- Bayer manages the "BIMS Global Program" to help develop the company's younger talent to take on senior leadership roles -- the program is an online business management simulator that allows participants to take on management roles within the organization, simulating seven fiscal years over a 5-month period
- Summer students working at Bayer receive extensive one week training that includes themed evening activities, such as Luau, billiard party and Bermuda shorts night -- the company also oversees a student blog, allowing students to share their experience with others
Vibrant young workforce makes its mark at Bayer
As you walk around the offices of Bayer, a life sciences company headquartered in Mississauga, Ont., you hear and feel the vibrancy of a youthful workforce. That's because about one quarter of employees across Canada are from the millennial generation, aged 35 and under. Within the company's Crop Science division, which is based in Calgary, it is even more - 40 per cent of the team.
What makes Bayer stand out is its attractive, high-tech work environment with areas to collaborate in person or online. In fact, recently the company hosted a social media event at its
head office which was attended by staff of all ages and levels. Everyone was highly engaged and bought valuable skills and perspectives to the table, says Lynda Newcomb, Vice President, Human Resources.
"Millennials in particular are a social media savvy generation," she explains. "And social media and innovation will be an important part of our business going forward."
The company offers a range of career development programs to help employees progress in their career. For example, Bayer's LEAD program, a four-day course jointly developed with the Niagara Institute of Technology, aims to prepare employees for future leadership and people management roles. This focus on training also reflects Bayer`s commitment to cultivating young talent.
"We have a strong summer program, hiring up to 200 students a year across Canada," Newcomb says. "The program provides Bayer with the opportunity to introduce young people to our business straight from school and is an important way for us to scout for new employees."
For instance, the company partners with the University of Toronto's Master of Management of Innovation program to offer co-op placements in healthcare and marketing as well as internships.
Bayer also allocates a large number of students to its Crop Science division in field work. One of the perks of a student summer job in this division is that Bayer provides all field- based employees with a truck.
But there is a special caveat: a transponder is installed in the vehicle to check they are wearing seat belts and not speeding. And for every pay cycle in which students do not make an infraction, Bayer awards them a $100 bonus. If they remain infraction-free for the whole summer, students can increase their total pay by approximately $800.
Called Safety for LIFE, this initiative aims to encourage young employees to drive safely. According to Stephanie Lepage, a Principal Investigator at Bayer Crop Science, it shows the company cares about both personal and professional development.
"Retaining young employees is important to Bayer so there is a lot of investment in training for summer students. The company sees us as potentially valuable long-term employees," she says.
Lepage is part of Bayer Crop Science's environmental team, which operates out of Saskatoon. She spends most of her time at the company's Rosthern Farm, which is 45 minutes north of the office, conducting trials on new crop production chemicals.
Lepage came through Bayer's student ranks. She was hired full-time, on a 12-month contract, in January 2015, following three previous years as a summer student. Her contract has just been renewed for a second term.
The first summer Lepage was at the company in 2012, she worked as a customer care associate answering calls about crop chemicals across the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. Then, in 2013 and 2014, after expressing an interest, she took on a research assistant role in the environmental team.
Bayer provides summer students with both office and field training. This on-the-job training, Lepage explains, helps to build the confidence of students and encourage them to support each other on the farm and stay safe.
"There are many experienced people at the company to work with and mentor you," she says. "We are encouraged to be accountable, take on more responsibility and build trust with all employees - permanent, contract and summer students."