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 Greenest Employers (2018):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Apr 18, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Labatt Brewing Company Limited was selected as one of Canada's Greenest Employers (2018):
- Labatt's Anheuser-Busch InBev parent company recently announced its commitment to sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025 -- the impressive goal is to be realized though 75% to 85% purchases of green energy with the balance achieved through onsite power generation -- the target is expected to reduce the company's overall carbon footprint by 30%, which is the equivalent of removing half a million cars from the road
- 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 very few retail chains to take back all the packaging it sells, and boasts a 99% recycling rate for industry standard bottles, which are reused an average of 15 times before being recycled into new beer bottles
Employees lead environmental innovation at Labatt
Most of the innovations that enable Labatt Breweries of Canada to meet its ambitious environmental goals, both within its breweries and offices and in the wider community, come from employees.
Though an initiative known as the Ideas Process, which was itself developed by employees almost 20 years ago, everyone who works at Labatt is empowered to suggest improvements that will have a measurable impact on the way their jobs are done.
"We look for large- and small-scale initiatives. Even the smallest and simplest ideas are important. They all add up," says Holly Hurley, Environmental Health and Safety Manager for Labatt's brewery in London, Ont., where the company was founded 170 years ago.
"Tens of thousands of ideas have been generated by this program. It isn't limited to environmental ideas, but many environmental ideas have come from it," adds Scott Durnin, Brewmaster at the London brewery. For example, he cites numerous suggestions from the bottle-washing and powerhouse departments that have brought about more efficient ways of using water, electricity and steam. The results of these innovations are carefully measured and monitored to ensure progress is being made.
Through efforts such as these across its six breweries in Canada, Labatt has reduced water usage by 46 per cent since 2006 and cut total energy consumption by 14 per cent between 2011 and 2016.
The company has also been highly successful in its recycling initiatives, with 99 per cent of its waste now diverted from landfills. Labatt's waste streams include cardboard and byproducts of yeast and grains, which are collected and shipped to companies that reuse them for other products. As well, the alcohol removed from Budweiser Prohibition Brew is repurposed and diverted from the waste stream.
Other innovations include reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation through greater use of rail shipments and trucks powered by alternative fuels, and by collaborative shipping to eliminate "empty" miles.
"As a global company we're very committed to reducing energy and utility consumption," says Durnin. Labatt is part of Anheuser-Busch InBev, a multinational brewing and beverage company, which has the stated goal of bringing people together for a better world. It recently announced a commitment to obtain 100 per cent of its purchased electricity from renewable sources by 2025.
Each Labatt brewery has an Environmental Committee, with representatives from all departments who meet monthly to share status updates, and at two- to three-day Kaizen events on continuous improvement, employees work together to implement ideas that lead to new standard operating procedures and best practices that are replicated across Canada, North America and globally.
In addition to these many internal environmental initiatives, Labatt employees engage with other organizations to share best practices, and work to improve their local communities.
"One thing I'm most proud of is World Environment Day," says Hurley. "We team up with the City of London and benchmark ourselves against other organizations in the area so we can encourage each other. We report our results for environmental Key Performance Indicators, which makes us accountable. This helps us help others and also enables us to see how they do things.
"At all our breweries we participate in annual cleanups," Hurley adds. "For example, here in London we're in our 18th year with the Thames River cleanup. Our people bring their families and kids to help clean up the river to demonstrate their commitment to the environment and the community. And we work with ReForest London to help meet its goal of planting one million trees and shrubs for a better environment and better health in the city."
Labatt also holds open house events to show how it leads by example and to educate and motivate other companies and the public, all towards the long-term goal of making the world a better place.
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."