Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019) and Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2019):
- Labatt Breweries keeps employees connected and up to date on company developments through monthly town hall-style "Stein Sessions" in the pub, quarterly pub gatherings for business updates, and an annual National Commercial Conference (a 4-day event with close to 1,000 employees in attendance)
- Along with a number of responsible drinking and international environmental awareness initiatives, Labatt Breweries manages the unique "Better Together" initiative to provide generous grants for individuals and families across Canada -- grants range from $200 to $4,000 and helps provide essentials for those living in need, from food and clothing to access to paramedical services
- Labatt Breweries head office employees work in the renovated historic Terminal Building in the centre of Queens Quay on Toronto's waterfront -- designed by renowned architect Eberhard Zeidler, the office features hotel spaces for visiting employees, a beer training facility and a 20,000 square foot John Labatt Hall, with table hockey, dart boards, multiple big screen televisions, various board games, gaming consoles and Muskoka chairs overlooking Lake Ontario
Employees help brew a better world at Labatt
As Senior Brand Manager for two high-end products from Labatt Breweries of Canada, Megan Kates has an impressive job description. It's part of her responsibilities for Stella Artois and Corona beers that she and her team look after the brands' better-world initiatives. For Stella Artois, it's a campaign to provide water access to communities with little; for Corona, it's about cleaning up the beach and ensuring that it's sustainable for future generations.
"To have those kinds of initiatives be such a big part of my job makes me very happy and really proud to work at this company," says Kates, who has been with Labatt since she was a post-graduate student. "It just gives you a real sense of accomplishment and impact in the world."
Bringing people together for a better world is a theme that is dear to employees of Labatt, and they're able to do just that through several programs. In one, during natural disasters, production is quickly switched from beer to water; since 2012, Labatt has donated 450,000 cans of water to communities in need. "We've been operating in Canada for over 170 years now," says Amanda Lynn, Vice-President of People. "We plan to be here for the next 100 years and our dream is to make the communities where we operate better."
In addition, there are World Environment days, golf classics to raise funds for physically challenged children, Road Safety days, during which colleagues from across the country meet with their communities to discuss responsible drinking and ways to reduce impaired and distracted driving, and much more. "We're truly focusing on initiatives to better communities and the world around us," says Kates.
The other themes at Labatt are ownership and opportunity. To facilitate those, Labatt, which is part of the worldwide company Anheuser-Busch InBev, has instituted a unique global management trainee program. For 10 months, those in the program live out of a suitcase and travel around the country learning about all areas of the company. "Your knowledge is going to be a mile wide," Lynn says, "because you're seeing everything from the brewery operations to logistics to sales and marketing, as well as finance, legal and people."
One employee engagement program, The Ideas Process, empowers people at any level and in any part of the company to bring forward their ideas and see them through to the end result. Ideas can be about anything from ways to save energy or water, tweaking the packaging material, diverting waste from landfill and more. "Our frontline employees have the best ideas because they're the closest to the product, to the processes, to the consumers," says Lynn. "At the end, they have that recognition and they know that's their legacy - how they've impacted Labatt, how they've impacted the communities."
Seeking out available opportunities and taking them to the next level is practically a company policy at Labatt. It's not about the amount of work, explains Lynn, but the stretch the work demands. "Our CEO believes it takes the same amount of energy to dream big as it does to dream small, so why not dream big," she adds. "It's that constant propelling forward that really has kept me here. Consistent in every area and location I've worked at is this huge sense of ownership that you can seize, aligning with our culture and moving forward with it."
Labatt brews a culture of candor and meritocracy
As part of Labatt Breweries of Canada's Global Management Trainee Program, Eli Ruch spent 10 months travelling across Canada and into the United States, serving four- to six-week rotations everywhere from the brewery in Montreal to field sales in Edmonton and marketing in Toronto. His first permanent position was as Group Manager in the company's Mississauga, Ont. warehouse, and now Ruch is National Demand Planning Manager at Labatt's head office in Toronto. This all transpired in four years.
"The sheer breadth of ownership that this company affords is impressive," says Amanda Lynn, Vice-President of People, "because the pace at which you can grow and be challenged is quite accelerated compared to other career paths or companies. And it's not only the volume of work. With the opportunities we offer, it's also the stretch of the work."
Most of the employees who work in Labatt's headquarters started in entry-level positions in the field. "When you start there, you collect experiences, build relationships and enhance your capabilities, and all of that comes together in headquarters," says Lynn. "It's unique in terms of the different relationships you can leverage."
Indeed, those working at headquarters, like Ruch, collaborate with employees at six breweries, several regional sales offices, three craft breweries, two cider houses and a host of other facilities. That translates into a deep understanding of all the different functions that create Labatt's products and bring them to market. "No matter who you are, diversity of opinion is extremely important," says Ruch, "so all voices, all ideas, are encouraged and valued from the start."
Labatt prides itself on being a flat, informal organization. In the Toronto office, all 160 employees - from entry-level accountant to vice-president - sit together on one floor. There are no offices or closed-off views. Jeans are encouraged when employees are not in business meetings. "Sitting together really supports our culture of candor and meritocracy and informality," says Lynn. "We don't need walled offices or to be tucked away out of sight of our teams. Working together really fosters our transparent work environment."
A pub at the Toronto office allows for larger gatherings, including a quarterly "Live at the Pub" session, led by Labatt's president. But it is also a place where employees can meet for celebrations, training sessions and informal get-togethers. "Building a real feeling of camaraderie among employees is important," says Lynn. "Our pub is a great venue for them to socialize and strengthen those relationships."
The company is also committed to the community. Through its Disaster Relief Program, for example, production can be switched from beer to water. Since 2012, Labatt has donated 450,000 cans of water to communities in need. An annual charity golf classic raises funds for physically challenged children, and on World Environment Day employees get outside to clean up the communities where they work.
When Ruch was learning about corporate culture in university, he didn't think much of it. "I thought that a lot of companies had put a lot of words on paper, but it didn't really mean much," he says. However, it was immediately clear to him that that wasn't the case at Labatt. "Everyone here is passionate about the company, about results," he adds. "Meritocracy is extremely important, and it's acted upon. You see it every day."
To Lynn, the culture is what keeps the company at its best. "It's not just something that's posted on the wall," she says. "It drives how we talk to each other, how we interact in meetings, how we sit in an open-office layout. It's our culture that sets us apart."
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
By Kristina Leung and Richard Yerema, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 17, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2019):
- Labatt Breweries manages a 3-month Brewery Development Program which features exposure to brewing processes, operations, logistics and utilities departments -- the program also includes onsite training at the company's hometown brewery in London Ontario as well as travel to Labatt's operations in the United States
- Labatt Breweries created an expansive 10-month Global Management Trainee Program for undergraduate students -- the program includes rotations through various business segments throughout North America, collaboration with innovation teams to "build a brand" beginning from design, production to launching a new beer prototype, access to senior leaders at Q&As and updates with the country president and global CEO
- Labatt Breweries maintains an active on-campus presence year-round through "Campus Ambassadors" who facilitate invitations to specific events such as rotational recruitment sessions, "Beer School", and information on beer and food pairings as well as tastings
Labatt focuses on developing young leaders
Like all new recruits, Jijun Xian started her career at Labatt Breweries of Canada with the solid foundation provided by the company's intensive training program.
After an initial five weeks travelling between her home office in Toronto and North American headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, learning about virtually every perspective of the business, Xian spent two months analyzing a real-world problem for Labatt. The assignment was to use the skills she had acquired in the training program to find a solution.
"It was super challenging because a lot of things I was dealing with I had just learned, but it was satisfying to be trusted with an actual issue," she says.
Backed by the resources and support of people in every Labatt department, Xian was not only able to complete the project but her recommendations were put into effect at the brewery.
"As a millennial, when we first enter the work world, we really want to be valued, we want to be heard," says Xian, now a People Specialist at the company's brewery in London, Ont. "At Labatt, it doesn't matter how old you are or how long you've been working at the company; if you're creative and action-oriented, your ideas will be implemented."
About 35 per cent of Labatt's full-time employees are under the age of 30. In fact, young people are critical to a company that takes pride in all it has accomplished over more than 17 decades but focuses on the future.
"A huge component of career development at our company is driven by our rotational 10-month talent program, our rigorous internship program and other functional programs," explains Bianca Ciccarelli, Senior Manager of People Continuity. "We look at these as pipelines for building future company leaders. That's why it's so important for us to hire young people right out of school, with open minds and fresh sets of eyes, who can really challenge us and lead growth in our organization."
Labatt's commitment to developing young people into leaders first struck Xian when she was a first-year student at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. "We were sent to Labatt for leadership training," recalls Xian. "A lot of employees came out and talked about their leadership story and how the company supported them as leaders. I thought this company is so cool - they really care about leaders."
Fast forward to her last year at Rotman, when Labatt solidified its impression on Xian at a job recruitment information session. Instead of the classic slide-show presentation, several employees, as well as the company president and several VPs, split into five different stations with each one focusing on a different aspect of the company. Students were divided into different beer brand teams and rotated through each station, finishing off the session by taking on a business case.
"The idea," explains Ciccarelli, who also graduated from Labatt's internship program, "is to paint an accurate picture of who we are as a company and who we're hoping to attract - people who embrace the fast-paced environment and who are excited by a challenge and something unique."
That was what Xian was looking for and that is what she got. Recently installed in her first position with the company, Xian is up for the challenges she faces as she's learning.
"For me, right now, I want to learn and absorb as much as possible so I can develop the potential to move around and work in other departments in the future," says Xian. "I know that as long as I work hard, as long as I produce results, I can go far in the company, and go quickly."
Recognized as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 14, 2019)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2019):
- With a stated goal "to be the best and most sustainable eco-efficient beer company in the world", Labatt and its AB InBev parent company recently announced their 2025 Sustainability Goals, which include a focus on agriculture, water stewardship, circular packaging (ensuring 100 per cent of packaging is returnable or recyclable) and climate action (which includes using 100 per cent renewable electricity and a full 25 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions by 2025)
- A major water user, Labatt Breweries conducted water use audits and drain surveys, leading to the development of long-term water use reduction strategies across all it locations -- impressively, the company reduced water consumption by 17 per cent since 2011
- As a major brewer and part-owner of the The Beer Store and Brewers Distributors Limited, Labatt Breweries helped develop one of the earliest and most successful recycling and reuse programs in Canada, with models replicated by both public and private sector entities -- The Beer Store is also one of the few retail chains to take back all the packaging it sells and boasts a 96 per cent recycling rate for industry standard bottles, which are reused an average of 15 times before being recycled into new beer bottles -- The Beer Store also captures over 80 per cent of coolers, spirts and wine bottles and other non-Beer store containers
Labatt is committed to creating a better world
Labatt Breweries of Canada has always been committed to creating a better world - environmentally, socially and economically - in all the communities where it does business, and beyond. That legacy is rooted in John Kinder Labatt's tradition of giving back and respect for the land - at that time by the Thames River in London, Ont., where he founded Labatt's hometown brewery in 1847.
While much has changed in the business of brewing in the past 170-plus years, the company's commitment has never wavered.
"We have the greatest respect for our founder and our company's deep tradition of improving the world around us," says Alexandre Martel, General Manager of the London Brewery, "and we take every opportunity to carry that forward and make sure we're doing things even better."
At every Labatt location, including its breweries and warehouses, many of the company's better-world initiatives are driven by Environment Committees that meet regularly and include representatives from all departments.
Labatt's 3,400 employees also contribute ideas inspired by their focus on reducing the company's environmental footprint. "We explore and implement a wide range of employee ideas, large and small, all of which will have a cumulative impact on everything from our water and electricity consumption to our recycling rates," says Stuart King, Environmental Health and Safety Specialist.
Labatt's dedication to long-term sustainability has helped the company achieve a 99.3 per cent recycling rate. The company also partners with local organizations to share recycling and other sustainability best practices at community forums across Canada in celebrating UN World Environment Day every June.
And often, efforts to advance local projects are in the best interest of not only the community but Labatt as well. This past year, on World Environment Day, the London Brewery chose to focus on pollinators. "We recognize the importance of a holistic sustainable supply chain," says King. "And by holistic I mean right from the start of the brewing process, which is growing barley and hops, and the reduction in the pollinator population. We're aware that the integrity of the chain affects our eco-systems, the quality of the ingredients we source, and ultimately our product too."
Year-round, Martel's job is to motivate and inspire employees to come up with ideas, then facilitate implementation by providing people with the right tools and support. "It's all about ownership, and ensuring that the people closest to the issues have the knowledge they need to do the right things," he says. "Those are the ingredients we need to empower people to take charge of those great initiatives." He adds: "Everybody has a stake in the game - sustainability benefits everyone."
Over the past decade, Labatt has reduced its water usage by about 45 per cent. An employee at the London brewery came up with what seemed at first like a small idea - but it saved 15 million litres of water a year. "That employee was passionate about doing the right thing and doing it for the right reason," says Martel. "What really struck me is that he said, 'It's important for me because I have a three-year-old son and I want to make sure I'm leaving a world that will be much better for him and his children.'"
The benefits of the company's size are important in the equation as well. As part of AB InBev, the leading global brewery with operations in over 50 countries, Labatt has access to an enormous range of sustainability ideas. A small idea that turns into a best practice at one location is shared. "It's when all those employee ideas are replicated throughout our brewery network that we see a huge impact globally on the environment," says Martel.
At Labatt, financial objectives and sustainability goals often go hand in hand, he adds. "Saving water and energy is obviously good for the environment but it also makes sound financial sense and helps to ensure that Labatt will be around for the next 170 years."