Chosen as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers and Alberta's Top Employers for 2013:
By Richard Yerema and Kristina Leung, Mediacorp Canada Inc. staff editors
(Oct 9, 2012)
Some of the reasons why Agrium
was selected as one of Canada's Top 100 Employers for 2013
- offers great financial benefits including signing bonuses for some employees, referral bonuses (to $3,000), generous year-end bonuses for certain positions and a profit-sharing plan available to all employees
- unique head office which features an employee lounge with fireplace, television, video games, foosball and board games, and quiet rooms for meditation and reflection
- supports ongoing employee development with generous subsidies for tuition and professional accreditation, a formal mentoring program, career planning services and in-house and online training programs
- also manages a popular engineer-in-training program designed to expose young engineering employees to a wide variety of engineering disciplines
- helps older workers prepare for life after work with retirement planning assistance, phased-in retirement work options, and fully-paid health coverage that extends into retirement (with no age limit)
- depending on their position, the company provides contributions to either a defined contribution or a defined benefit pension plan -- with matching RSP contributions for those enrolled in the defined benefit plan
- employees from all levels within the company form donation committees at each of the company's locations, managing and directing the company's charitable giving -- over $6.5 million were donated last year
Agrium Inc. is a North and South American retail supplier and wholesale producer of agricultural products and specialty fertilizers.
Founded as Cominco Fertilizers Ltd. in 1931, Agrium Inc. manages retail and wholesale business units across North America. Their retail operations supply fertilizer, crop protection products, seed and associated merchandise to customers through more than 900 retail centres, distribution centres and terminals in the United States, Canada, Chile and Argentina. The company also produces and markets fertilizers internationally through production facilities in North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East. In addition, Agrium recently established a new research and technology unit, responsible for developing environmentally-friendly, controlled-release fertilizer and associated products for the agricultural, horticulture, and consumer lawn and garden markets.
Industry: Nitrogenous Fertilizer Manufacturing.
Major Canadian hiring locations: Brantford ON, Calgary AB, Carseland AB, Edmonton AB, Kapuskasing ON, Saskatoon SK.
Stock symbol: AGU.
Revenues: $15,400 million.
Full-time at this location: 412.
Full-time employees in Canada: 2,251.
Full-time worldwide: 13,773.
Part-time employees in Canada: 60.
Workforce engaged on a contract basis: 4%.
Number of applications received at this location last year: 8,101.
Average age of all employees: 43.
Longest serving employee: 56 years.
Agrium's physical workplace is rated as exceptional. Agrium's head office is located in south Calgary mere minutes away from Fish Creek Provincial Park, one of the largest urban parks in Canada. Built in the Prairie School architectural style, the 160,000 square-foot building features walls built from 445-million year old, fossil-embedded Manitoba Tyndall stone. Easily accessible by public transit and convenient highway access, the suburban head office features an onsite fitness facility (with subsidized $10 monthly family memberships, treadmills, stationary bikes, stairmasters, weights, instructor-led classes, television and shower facilities -- and the facility is open seven days a week); employee lounge (with comfortable seating, fireplace, television, Wii nintendo system and board games), onsite bistro serves as a hybrid cafeteria (with hot meals as wells as salads) and a self-serve lunchroom; free hot and cold beverages; fresh fruit on each floor delivered twice a week; religious observance room; secure bicycle parking; transit subsidies; free parking; outdoor patio with picnic tables; and a nearby shopping mall.
Work Atmosphere & Communications
Agrium's work atmosphere is rated as above-average. Employees at Agrium enjoy business casual dress; can listen to music while working; concierge services available; employee sports teams; organized social events. The company hosts a unque "High Five Day" (also known as jean day by employees) on the first Friday of every month. Employees donate $5 for charity, which includes the right to wear jeans to work that day. The day includes a social gathering with complimentary snacks in the building's rotunda and is hosted by senior leaders who introduce new employees and celebrate long-serving employees -- and close the morning event with a a much anticipated wrap-up joke. The company-subsidized social club also organizes a Calgary Stampede breakfast, annual hockey tournament, Christmas parties, and activities in support of the annual United Way Campaign. Agrium keeps employees up-to-date and collects feedback through a corporate intranet site; traditional suggestion box; email suggestion box.
Financial Benefits & Compensation
Agrium's financial benefits are rated as above-average. To keep salaries competitive the company participates in outside salary surveys every 12 months. Individual salaries are reviewed every 12 months. The company's financial benefits vary with employee group, union and non-union personnel. In addition to ensuring competitive compensation and varying with employee group, Agrium may also provide, depending on the employee group, profit-sharing plan for all employees; signing bonuses for some employees; year-end bonuses for all employees; generous year-end bonuses (to $226,000), depending on the position; defined benefit pension with employer contributions (up to 5.9% of salary); defined contribution pension plan with employer contributions (up to 9% of salary); matching RSP contributions (up to 1% of salary); new employee referral bonuses (to $3,000 for some positions); life & disability insurance; retirement planning assistance; phased-in retirement work options; (Union personnel are enrolled in the defined benefit pension plan and can participate in the matching RSP program while non-union employees are enrolled in the defined contribution pension plan.).
Health & Family-Friendly Benefits
Agrium's health and family benefits are rated as average. Agrium's health benefits plan is managed by Alberta Blue Cross. The company has four separate health plans for its union and non-union personnel. Over 60 percent of employees enjoy the following coverages with other groups varying across the different areas. As part of the health plan, the employer pays 100% of the premiums. The health plan is a flexible plan with adjustable premiums and coverage levels. The maximum waiting period for new employees is 16 days. There is no waiting period before coverage begins. Family coverage is available on the health benefits plan. Retiree coverage is also available on the health plan, with no age limit. The basic plan includes routine dental; restorative dental; orthodontics; eyecare ($250 every 2 years); traditional medicine coverage; alternative medicine coverage; fertility treatment medications; employee assistance (EAP) plan; healthclub subsidy (to $360 each year); medical equipment and supplies; massage therapy; travel insurance. Health plan flex credits can be put toward a health expense plan, which they can use to pay any out-of-pocket medical or dental expenses. The majority of Agrium's employees can take advantage of maternity top-up payments (to 100% of salary for 8 weeks) with no maternity top-up payments for its other employee groups. Additional family friendly benefits vary with the position and group and may include,; health benefits during maternity and parental leave; flexible working hours; shortened work week (fewer hours with less pay); compressed work week; telecommuting; earned days off (EDO) program; summer student hiring program from children of employees.
Vacation & Personal Time-Off
Agrium's vacation and personal time-off are rated as very good. New employees receive 3 weeks of vacation allowance after their first year. Vacation increases after 2 years on the job. Long-serving employees receive a maximum of 5 weeks of vacation each year. Employees can also apply for an unpaid leave of absence. (While the majority of employees move to 4 weeks paid vacation after two years on-the-job, some employees jump after 5 and 10 years of employment.) Employees may also take advantage of paid personal days off, ranging from 1 to 8 personal days off each year.
Agrium's employee engagement program is rated as very good. Employees receive individual performance reviews every 12 months. Managers receive training in how to conduct effective performance reviews. Performance feedback is also solicited from co-workers and other managers familiar with each employee's work. As part of the review process employees can provide confidential feedback on their manager's performance. Exit interviews are provided for departing employees. Agrium recognizes exceptional performance with generous financial bonuses determined by annual incentive programs. Agrium sponsors its own in-house employee satisfaction survey. Agrium hires an outside consultant to conduct confidential employee satisfaction and engagement surveys. (These surveys are held every 24 months).
Training & Skills Development
Agrium's training and skills development program is rated as exceptional. Employees receive tuition subsidies for courses related to their position. (Employer pays up to $5,000 in subsidies). Employees may also receive tuition subsidies for courses unrelated to their current position. (Employer pays up to $5,000 in tuition subsidies). In addition to offering generous tuition subsidies. Agrium supports employees' ongoing career development with subsidies for professional accreditations; in-house apprenticeship and skilled trades programs; formal mentoring program; career planning services; in-house training programs; online training programs; online employee skills inventory; new employee orientation program; formal management training program; apprenticeship programs for instrumentation technicians, millwrights, steamfitters/pipefitters, heavy duty mechanics, industrial mechanics, electricians, and welders; engineer-in-training program for engineering graduates; succession management program for employees showing leadership potential early in their careers; and international work opportunities.
Agrium's community involvement program is rated as exceptional. Every year, Agrium and its employees support and raise funds for a variety of local, national and international charitable initiatives. At each of its Canadian offices, employees from management and non-management ranks form an in-house donations committee that reviews donation requests and decides where each office will direct its support. Depending on their location, some employee are provided with one full paid day to volunteer with the charity of their choosing. Approximately 1,000 charitable and community organizations were supported last year. Last year, the company donated over $6.5 million to charities, with three-quarters of those fund directed to its primary charities, including the United Way, Caring for our Watersheds, Millennium Promise (Africa), Seed Survivor, and the Duck Unlimited Canada Legacy Wetland Restoration Program. 1.95.
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