Molson Coors Creates a Great Corporate Environment

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The brewer goes to great lengths to get its employees involved in the creation of a supportive corporate culture

For the 3,500 employees of Molson Coors Canada, from president and CEO Dave Perkins on down, a corporate framework called Our Brew defines who they are.

Our Brew wasn't initiated by the executive branch or by an expensive group of external consultants who specialize in personnel issues. Unionized rank and file members put a suggestion forward following the landmark $6-billion US merger in 2005 of Molson Inc., the Montreal brewery founded in 1786 by John Molson, and Adolph Coors Company of Golden, Col.

Three independent organizations -- the two North American firms and a brewery operation in the U.K. -- and cultures existed before the merger.

"It was the employees who said, 'Hey, we need a common set of values, we need a common goal, where are we going, what are our ambitions?'" says Sebastien Charbonneau, manager for employee communications with Molson Coors Canada. "[They] were the ones who said we need to define our new collective DNA."

The fact it was not imposed on them, he adds, is one reason it works. "This is an organization that values its people and them," says Charbonneau.

The company describes Our Brew as a cultural compass that "encourages every employee to take ownership in the company and its success.

This is accomplished by asking them to adopt a challenger mindset to serve as brand advocates and to take personal accountability for the work they do.

The payoff of this new approach is clear: people say they understand the business better than ever and they're more engaged."

Suzanne Niles, head of human resources at the brewery, who holds the title of chief people officer, says there is a "mystique" that goes with working at Molson Coors.

"That mystique is what lures the best candidates to want to work here, and it's the culture that we have created that keeps them motivated once they're hired."

A big part of the communications strategy involves the use of social media. "Specific to my role is to equip all of our people with the right communications channels," says Charbonneau. As an example, the executive team, current employees and even retirees use a messaging system called Yammer that allows each user to start a conversation, read posts and collaborate with co-workers or former co-workers instantly.

Named one of Canada's top employers in a 2010 competition organized by Mediacorp Canada, the company expects everyone in the company to contribute to the company's success and uses terms such as results-oriented, sociable and community-focused to describe the culture.

"If there's anything we're more passionate about than beer, it's the well-being of our communities," says Perkins. As an example, the Molson Volunteer Program, or MVP, allows employees to volunteer for a charity or non-profit organization of their choice during working hours. According to the company, they have "cleaned up the streets, worked in shelters and stocked local food banks to get out there and lend a hand."

Apart from what it describes as a "competitive base salary" employees can earn short-and long-term incentives, employee referral bonuses, receive free weekly beer vouchers and participate in an array of internal programs. These include the Employment Development Academy, which allows individuals to identify opportunities and be trained in order to qualify.

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