Recognized as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Dec 3, 2020)
Here are some of the reasons why Bayer was selected as one of Greater Toronto's Top Employers (2021):
- Bayer maintains a long-term focus on the welfare of its employees, offering RSP contributions, a defined contribution pension plan and health benefits plan that extends to retirees (with no age limit and 100 per cent premium coverage)
- Additionally, as part of Bayer's flexible health benefits plan, employees receive a generous health spending account of up to $1,500 per year as well as a separate wellness spending account of $400
- Bayer supports employee efforts to give back to local communities with two paid days off to volunteer -- and also implemented a four-week paid leave program for health care professionals who want to contribute to front-line response during the pandemic
Bayer Canada employees are stronger together
When Adrienne Harrison’s manager at Bayer Inc. walked through the office on a Thursday afternoon in March to tell employees they’d have to work for two weeks from home, she grabbed her laptop and some other items and left the building.
“We all wondered how we would navigate remote work for two weeks,” says Harrison, senior manager, commercial operations, in Bayer’s consumer health division in Mississauga.
“But as time passed, we knew we had to adjust,” she says. “I haven’t been back since March 13.”
To make the transition as easy as possible, Bayer’s senior management formed a committee to address the needs of employees at home. They allowed people to return once to the office at an appointed time to retrieve personal items and to take their ergonomically designed office chairs with them.
If necessary, they shipped monitors and other computer equipment to employees’ homes or helped with purchasing new ones.
“We also had to make sure our IT network could handle the increased traffic created by virtual meetings and video calls,” says Shurjeel Choudhri, head of medical and scientific affairs and senior vice president of Bayer Inc. “Through it all, I’ve been impressed by how well the organization has continued to function during the pandemic.”
Providing internal customer service support for Bayer’s operating divisions, Harrison and her five-person team have depended on the company’s IT network to conduct daily meetings and to interact virtually with sales, operations and other divisional staff.
“The IT team has been amazing,” she says. “We’ve relied on them for everything from showing us how new apps work to explaining new hardware set-up.”
cAs they addressed the company’s first priority of employee safety, Bayer’s management turned their attention to other concerns. Employees in its divisions like crop science and radiology still had to provide their services to customers. Patients who depend on the company’s pharmaceuticals needed an uninterrupted supply, and supply chains had to be monitored so they could operate without delays.
Bayer also took steps to support the community through donations to foodbank programs and initiatives to inform medical specialists about advances in COVID-19 research.
Some of that research is being conducted by Bayer itself, including a major collaboration with the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University to identify potential COVID-19 treatments.
Under ordinary conditions, says Choudhri, it takes a year to put such a study into practice.
“But this was urgent,” he says. “We needed to find out if any existing treatments could be re-purposed for COVID-19.”
Dozens of people, all working virtually, put everything else aside to get the study up and running.
“Together with PHRI, we finalized the study protocol, obtained approvals from Health Canada, the research ethics board and our global organization, obtained study drug supply and enrolled the first patient in just 29 days,” says Choudhri. “It was unprecedented.”
The study now involves researchers in 14 countries, and the team expects results by early 2021. “Everybody’s passionate about this work,” he says. “I’m so proud of the team.”
For Choudhri and Harrison alike, the pandemic has required an immediate adjustment to a rapidly changing world. For Choudhri, “that means being resilient and learning quickly.”
For Harrison, who has two daughters, five and seven, it means “a re-prioritization of people and family and a more balanced view of work and life,” she says.
“A lot of organizations talk about putting family first. Well, this is family first.”
It may also be the silver lining in the cloud of COVID-19, she adds. “Until the pandemic sent everyone home, I’d never walked my kids to school.”
Recognized as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
By Kristina Leung, Stephanie Leung, and Jing Wang, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors (Jan 18, 2021)
Here are some of the reasons why Bayer was selected as one of Canada's Top Employers for Young People (2021):
- Bayer employs approximately 200 students each year, including summer roles at the corporate offices and sites, and farm technicians, agronomy assistants and research assistants in the Crop Science division
- Students at Bayer experience a structured program, featuring an orientation and onboarding event with leadership keynotes, regular lunch and learns and social opportunities directed by students themselves (with funding from the company) -- students also further develop their careers by participating in the company's recently refreshed performance process, which includes agile goal setting, continuous feedback and check-ins
- Bayer was able to proceed with a full 2020 student program during the pandemic with all head office recruits equipped to participate remotely and continued support for those in field positions
Strengths become opportunities at Bayer in Canada
Kate Hyatt wanted to try something new after six years as brand and advertising manager for corn at Bayer in Canada. “I felt ready for more responsibility,” she says. “Leadership listened and created an opportunity where I could ask questions and prepare for my future.”
In 2020, Hyatt assumed her oneyear leadership development role as the company’s horticultural crop and campaign manager in its Crop Science Division in Guelph, Ont., marketing to horticulture farmers in Canada. “I make sure that the products farmers need and the programs our sales team needs are all in place,” she says.
The change has challenged Hyatt, who joined Bayer with a B.Sc. in plant biology from the University of Guelph, to apply untapped resources and develop new skills.
“A career at Bayer means that you can put your passion into practice,” says Janine Pajot, vice president, human resources. “You’re encouraged to try new opportunities and pursue new experiences. It’s one of the many benefits of our wide-ranging business activities.”
As a university student, Hyatt was attracted to Bayer, she says, “because it sounded like a great place to learn.
“When I did my first interview, I felt that the people loved their job and were proud of what they were doing,” she says.
Before she joined the company fulltime, Hyatt worked at Bayer for four months as a summer student in Guelph. After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, she worked on an eight-month contract for Bayer in Regina.
“I was glad I knew how to drive a truck and tractor,” says Hyatt, who grew up on her father’s dairy and cash crop farm east of Toronto. “I drove 10,000 km that year towing a tractor on a trailer. However, the great part about working in Bayer’s agricultural business is that you don’t have to grow up on a farm. It was the diversity of my experience and skills that they valued.”
Nurturing employees like Hyatt to grow in new career directions reflects the company’s emphasis on leadership as one of its four key values, along with integrity, flexibility and efficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated its commitment to flexibility.
Hyatt and her husband were both working from home, and they had two children, both under the age of seven, in their midst.
“I spoke to my manager, and he said, ‘Do what you need to do.’ That gave me the flexibility to manage work and home.”
Like Hyatt, Pajot has pursued new opportunities in marketing, sales and HR since she joined the global life science company in 2007.
“Professional and self-development is a priority for Bayer,” says Pajot. “My personal experience is a great example of how our working culture is driven by thinking ahead and broadening skills and experiences to keep up with the latest challenges and trends.”
Pajot has advanced in her career at Bayer to her current role on the company’s senior leadership team. “The reason I’ve stayed,” she says, “is the people and the culture.”
Hyatt looks forward to assuming a leadership role, as well. “At Bayer, people care about fostering and developing employees,” she says. “Bayer may be a big corporation, but people make all the difference.”