Recognized as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Nov 8, 2018)
Here are some of the reasons why Pfizer Canada Inc. was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers (2019):
- Along with helping employees save for the future, Pfizer Canada offers retirement planning assistance and health benefits that extend to retirees (with 100% premiums paid and no age limit)
- Pfizer Canada supports employees who are new mothers with maternity leave top-up payments (to 100% of salary for up to 18 weeks) and offers the convenience of onsite daycare at its head office
- Pfizer Canada encourages employees to keep physically fit with free access to an onsite fitness facility with more than 20 instructor-led classes each week, from TRX training to yoga and spin -- additionally, employees can take advantage of free dietician services onsite, as well as an onsite medical clinic and kinesiology services
At Pfizer, you can 'OwnIt!' and give Straight Talk
When it comes to hiring people whose goal is helping others, Pfizer Canada Inc. has a clear advantage. The leading biopharmaceutical company develops and delivers a wide range of medicines, vaccines and consumer wellness products aimed at significantly improving the health of Canadians.
Other pharmaceutical companies can, of course, make similar claims. Yet at a time when retaining top people can be even more difficult than recruiting them, Pfizer has a remarkably low voluntary turnover rate of just 2.75 per cent.
President John Helou speaks from experience when he says that what makes Pfizer exceptional is the company's distinct culture. After joining Pfizer in 2003 as part of an acquisition, he moved to the Montreal head office. Impressed
with what he saw, Helou stayed on, taking over the top job at the Canadian arm of the multinational in 2012.
But while his answer is simple and straightforward, Helou is well aware that fostering an innovative and respectful environment where employees are emboldened to do their best is anything but.
"People say it feels very different here, that we're highly collaborative and solutions-oriented," he says. "They feel their opinion counts and that they can quickly make a contribution. You can't mandate that kind of culture. You have to work hard at it every day."
Helou and his leadership team have helped in that regard thanks to the "OwnIt!" initiative launched in 2012 in all 175 global markets where Pfizer Inc. operates. Not only a call to accountability, it's an acronym where each letter helps delineate appropriate workplace behaviour.
Laura Larbalestier, VP, Human Resources, recalls how the letter N sparked controversy when OwnIt! was introduced. After all, it stands for "No jerks." But, she adds, people soon realized it was just part of an overall framework to help employees call out obnoxious or offensive behaviour in a non-confrontational way.
At the same time Pfizer launched Straight Talk coins people could use when they were ready to do just that. Although the coins are now mostly tucked away in desk drawers, the concept lives on when an employee requests a "straight talk" moment. "This has been a real boon for people who are not normally comfortable speaking up," says Larbalestier. "It really helps to facilitate discussion."
Although united by the common goal of ensuring Canadians have timely access to best-in-class health care, the Pfizer workforce is nevertheless diverse. Employees include everyone from scientists involved in cutting-edge R&D to marketing professionals to workers in manufacturing facilities.
OwnIt! is one of a number of initiatives signalling Pfizer's ongoing commitment to ensuring each employee feels welcome, valued and engaged. Other measures include adopting ideas based on their merit, not who brought them forward, and regular employee surveys.
Pfizer also offers what Larbalestier calls "all the bells and whistles" in a generous compensation and benefits package. As well, employees are encouraged to take advantage of Pfizer's many learning and experiential opportunities, whether in a different department or a new location in Canada or even overseas.
"Instead of the old corporate ladder, we like to get people thinking about career jungle gyms," says Larbalestier. "Sometimes the best move is a step sideways. That is development as well."
Helou also believes in the power of trust. "No one shows up deliberately planning to mess up," he says. "People want to do good work. When you assume good intentions, things change dramatically.
"I've seen the power of unleashing the potential of the individual. They will always surprise you and deliver more than you ever expected."