Bayer’s GIVE program is a corporate community investment program designed to make an impact in the community and enhance Bayer’s reputation as a corporate citizen. Engaging employees in this program created a tangible way for them to live out the values associated with Bayer’s mission statement - Bayer: Science For A Better Life. It also strengthened our positive working culture and bolstered pride in working for Bayer.
The GIVE program is backed by comprehensive research and is multi-faceted. It involves a partnership with Mission Australia, a day’s paid leave for volunteering, staff sponsorship grants, matched donations and payroll giving.
The launch campaign, presented by Bayer’s Senior Country Representative, clearly communicated key messages and generated enthusiasm for the program. Communication tools, designed to ensure comprehension and inspire participation, were created along with a high impact brand for the program to ensure high recognition among staff. An ongoing communication campaign was implemented to maintain momentum post-launch, further driving awareness and participation in the program throughout year one.
Results show that the program has exceeded targets and objectives have been achieved to the benefit of the community and Bayer.
Prior to developing this program, Bayer was already active in supporting charity and community initiatives. However, support was somewhat ‘ad-hoc’. We felt that creating a branded program, and so systemising our approach to Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), would benefit the company in a number of ways and allow us to manage our CSR budget more effectively.
Bayer receives numerous requests for support from an array of worthy causes each week. Through the GIVE Program we have set clear criteria about Bayer’s support. This allows us to be more effective and consistent in our decision making process.
After our staff survey on CSR, we discovered that understanding among employees of Bayer’s commitment to CSR was quite low. The GIVE program would provide a way to communicate Bayer’s CSR commitment to employees.
As an Employer of Choice, and one of Hewitt’s Best Employers, Bayer believes that people are its key asset. Attracting and retaining the best staff requires the company to stand out above competitors in terms of its offering to employees – both current and future. Working for a company with a clear commitment to supporting the community and giving back to society is attractive to people, many of whom regard the company they work for as part of their lifestyle – not just a job.
The following research helped us develop and launch the GIVE program successfully:
- Review of best practice corporate community investment programs in Australia with specific attention to key competitor initiatives.
- Joined the network of CSR professionals, attend seminars, presentations and social gatherings furthering our knowledge and contacts.
- Investigated and audited Bayer’s CSR activities globally to ascertain key learnings from our international colleagues.
- Survey of Bayer employees (online) about their charity and community preferences and how they would like the company to support them in this area. Subsequent focus groups with selected employees and management drilled further in specific areas.
Our primary public for the first year of the program was management (and their buy-in) and our employees (communicating the GIVE Program to ensure their understanding and participation in the program).
Our secondary public during the first year were the general public (mainly those in the vicinity of Bayer Australia’s sites), media and customers. Now that the program is established we plan an external campaign to communicate the GIVE program and Bayer’s CSR commitment.
When developing our communication strategy we considered:
- Knowledge of our employees and preferred means of communication (based on surveys).
- Maximising a small communication budget, enabling the majority of funds to go direct to community organisations.
- How to create an effective program and communication strategy that could be managed by a small team.
- Timing and senior endorsement – availability of our Senior Country Representative for launch events, linking in with other company activities and so on.
- How to maximise use of existing communication vehicles.
- Style and tone to reflect the warm spirit of the program.
- Nationwide support, creating a network of champions across all sites.
Specific details of the ensuing strategy is detailed further below.
The following is a summary of the campaign:
The planning process involved:
- Research (see section 4).
- Liaison with senior managers to ensure their support.
- Setting criteria for developing a headline national charity partnership, holding interviews with suitable charities, then negotiating a strategic partnership with Mission Australia.
- Devising elements of the program: volunteering, staff sponsorship grants, matched fundraising and payroll giving.
- Setting up systems, policies and decision-making criteria in conjunction with other Bayer divisions, such as Human Resources and Finance and Administration.
Create a high impact brand
- Develop program name and tag-line to clearly convey the purpose and attributes of the program whilst being emotive and memorable. The program is named the GIVE program. The tag-line is Grow…Invest…Volunteer…Enrich, which further communicates the four elements of the program and reinforces the brand name.
- Design a logo that complies with corporate guidelines yet conveys the uplifting nature of the program.
Develop communication tools
- Design a 12-page, A5 brochure themed as a passport. The passport concept gave employees the sense that they could begin their journey with Bayer to making a difference and that they had Bayer’s ‘stamp’ of approval to participate. (See Appendix A).
- Produce an 8-minute film to educate employees on the new program and to inspire them to participate. Used Bayer employees in the film giving an insight into the charity and community causes they are passionate about and how they will use the GIVE program to make their aspirations a reality. (See Appendix A).
- Develop a new zone on Bayer’s intranet - a one-stop-shop housing all information relevant to the GIVE program eg application forms, policies, inspirational stories, useful resources, advertisements for volunteers etc. (See Appendix A).
- Recruit a network of GIVE champions to motivate and enthuse colleagues and to ensure an effective cascade of information throughout Bayer’s ten participating sites. Create specific GIVE Champion communication packs including tips on fundraising, ideas on how to engage employees and in-depth information on the program. Includes thank you letter from Senior Country Representative.
Launch to primary audience
- Set up launch events at ten Bayer sites in Australia communicating the program in more depth to all eligible employees. This included a conference with 400 employees.
- Bayer’s Senior Country Representative officially launched the program at each site.
- Mission Australia spokesperson at each event brought to life the work the charity does and explained how Bayer employees can get involved and make a difference in their local area.
- Question and answer sessions followed by a morning/afternoon tea allowed employees to talk about the new program and generate ideas.
- Branding at the events was impactful with the GIVE logo used across banners, on powerpoint presentations and even on cupcakes!
- Passport brochure and DVD were used, with handouts for employees to take away for further reading.
- Photographs in Appendix A.
Internal communications vehicles
- More than 20 stories on the Bayer Australia intranet. Content of news items varied from stories of volunteers in action to topical issues relating to charities. (See Appendix A).
- A variety of stories in the employee magazine, which now includes a regular GIVE roundup. (See Appendix A).
- Submitted copy to Bayer’s global employee newsletter and intranets to drive awareness of the program within the Bayer global community. (See Appendix A).
- A range of promotional activity retained enthusiasm in the program post-launch:
- GIVE branded polo-shirt to all staff who participate in the program.
- Bag of chocolate money with swing tag promoting payroll giving. (See Appendix A).
- GIVE branded piggy bank for each division, collecting loose change for our charity partner, Mission Australia.
- GIVE included in induction packs and seminars.
- To maintain the enthusiasm and buy-in from senior management, essential for the long-term success of the program, a number of executives experienced homelessness close up by riding with Missionbeat, which patrols inner city streets.
- Derrill Palidwar, former Managing Director of Bayer HealthCare commented, “This experience really opened my eyes to some of the issues facing this marginalised sector of our community. Supporting our partnership with this organisation will remain high on the agenda in the future.”
- See photographs in Appendix A.
- Targeted selected media with local new stories relating to the program. (See Appendix A).
- Advertisement in Mission Australia’s supplement - distributed in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age - with a combined readership of 2.2 million. Developed a special creative for this advertisement which communicated the partnership in action. (See Appendix A).
- Included information about the GIVE program in Business Review, our annual company brochure issued to all key stakeholders. (See Appendix A).
- Improved the community section of Bayer’s website. (See Appendix A).
GIVE’s success can be assessed both qualitatively through feedback and quantitatively through results (section 10).
Globally, the GIVE Program received a Bayer Award for Excellence in Communication against stiff worldwide competition. Other countries (as France, USA and China) are using GIVE as a model.
Through an effective communication strategy we have engaged Bayer employees and, as a result, we are making a positive impact on community and charity organisations around Australia.
The following quotes from two employees sum up the success of the program:
“If the feeling that I have had from this experience is anything to go by, then I think the program has so much more to offer Bayer's employees than just the monetary value associated with any of the elements. Great work on not only being the driving force behind the program, but allowing me the opportunity to be involved.”
Kelly Burke, Broadacre Extension Manager
“I was thrilled when one of my team members was awarded a staff sponsorship grant through the GIVE program. It has given him a real boost to have the funds to support an initiative in his community that he has been passionately involved in for nearly twenty years. Investing in its people in such a meaningful way is an excellent company initiative.”
Renae Brown, Sales Operations Manager
GIVE launched in New Zealand in April 2006.
We met objectives as follows:
- Research conducted and used to help shape program.
- GIVE brand and communication tools successfully created and well received by employees.
- High attendance at launch events and positive feedback gained from employees after events.
- Successful implementation of ongoing communication strategy maintained momentum post-launch.
- Participation rates demonstrate that we successfully communicated the GIVE program to employees and inspired them to participate.