(Left to right) KS Harish, country group HR head, South Asia, and D Narain, senior Bayer representative South Asia, believe in helping employees create better lives
Image: Mexy Xavier
It’s not leadership alone that makes a company. An organisation’s ability to educate and groom future leaders makes it a coveted workplace for employees. Bayer is one such company. The Thane-headquartered (globally, Germany) firm has made it to the Best Employers list for the third successive year.
Bayer works on preventing, alleviating and treating diseases while supplying high-quality food, feed and plant-based raw material. Its India operations include the crop science division—Bayer’s largest operation in the country with production facilities in Vapi and Himmatnagar in Gujarat, and a pharmaceuticals division, which is a joint venture with Zydus Cadila called Bayer Zydus.
As an employer, Bayer has constantly worked on enhancing the skills of its staffers. For instance, its Samavesh initiative is aimed at empowering women. The 12-week postgraduate certificate programme offers management education in a tie-up with a reputed management institute. Sponsored by Bayer, Samavesh provides post-graduation certification for women, helping them find a foothold in the life sciences industry. Seven weeks are allocated to practical training. Since the women have a background in technical education in agriculture or pharma, they can educate farmers while learning about their needs. They even meet medical representatives and doctors to understand their requirements. So far, three batches have successfully completed the course with 55 women trained to join the agriculture and pharmaceutical industries.
The participants are allowed to either join the crop science or pharmaceutical division, and even encouraged to explore opportunities outside the company. However, 53 percent preferred to stay with Bayer. Of the remaining, 26 percent pursued their own paths while 21 percent were employed with other organisations. Apart from this, the company also includes women in its sales force and other roles that are otherwise dominated by men.
Employer-friendly policies ensure that Bayer staffers remain motivated and loyal. “At HR, our purpose statement is, ‘We enable people to create a better life’ and our job is to help our people to be their very best. We offer a broad range of solutions covering all aspects of working for Bayer,” says KS Harish, Bayer’s country group HR head of South Asia.
D Narain, senior Bayer representative, South Asia, agrees. “We engage in the development of our employees by providing them with the right ecosystem to help sharpen their skills and grow in today’s ever-changing environment. Our state-of-the-art in-house learning academies focus on general management, leadership programmes as well as functional expertise,” he says.
Bayer has two leadership development programmes: ‘My Growth My Life’ (MGML) and NIEV.
MGML is a 12-month programme that facilitates interaction with the organisation’s internal coaches. It helps Bayer recognise employees with leadership potential and provide them learning and growth opportunities. MGML saw 140 participants in the last decade with 40 percent (56) employees getting promoted after completing the programme.
The NIEV programme is conducted in association with the Welingkar Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai, for those who wish to pursue management education. Employees attend classes for a week, every quarter, as part of the 24-month programme. At the end of the year, participants present a project depending on their subject of interest to a panel comprising senior management lecturers and colleagues. This helps Bayer not only identify promising talent but also retain them for the duration of the programme. Thirty-three percent of the 117 employees who participated in NIEV got promoted.
Besides these courses, Bayer’s ‘Global Internal Job Board’ helps employees with development opportunities across the world. A conversation between manager and employee through ‘Development Dialogue’ helps staffers discuss their professional goals with an experienced individual. They also get opportunities for international short-term assignments and elearning. Bayer rewards its prolific employees with its ‘Top Performer Awards’. The company has also established a Digital Transformation Board to become a digitally equipped company.
Employees thrive in an atmosphere that helps them evolve as professionals. Explains Anjali Raghuvanshi, chief people officer at Randstad India, a placement agency and recruitment consultancy, “While one of the critical reasons why people come to work is compensation, the other is learning. Employees stick to an organisation because they’re learning. Like sending employees to a classroom… in their busy life, it won’t be easy for them to take time out or take a break and do it themselves. If they can do this while they’re working and get paid at the same time with someone taking care of their development, it goes a long way in making them a useful resource. It also enhances their potential value in the market.”
Bayer does not hesitate in giving a voice to its employees—it takes feedback through pulse surveys. Managers, too, receive feedback from their team, which helps them recognise their shortcomings. Besides, Bayer’s ‘Breakfast with Leaders’ gives its employees a chance to let their hair down and engage with senior leaders in a casual setting.
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(This story appears in the 16 August, 2019 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)