People FAQ


Talent attraction and retention

What is Syngenta’s corporate culture?

Our ambition and strategy are directed by our purpose, bringing plant potential to life. It inspires and guides our work. Our values articulate what we regard as being important and help us make decisions. Through our values, we express who we are and what we stand for.

The passion and diversity of our people are distinctive assets and key elements of our brand and culture. Syngenta is not a place where simply doing a job is enough. It is vital that everyone has clarity about their own contribution and how we work together to achieve our goals. Our environment is intense and dynamic and we all need to be adaptable to change.

Through our ways of working and culture, we inspire employees to be innovative, to actively engage through collaboration and teamwork and be personally accountable for their actions. We achieve our success by having authentic, transparent discussions alongside the courage to take decisions without perfect knowledge but always with the highest integrity. We expect our people to develop their skills and capabilities during their careers and our leaders have a responsibility to support them.

What is Syngenta’s talent attraction (recruitment) and retention strategy?

We need to attract, retain and motivate a workforce that will deliver the innovation required to grow more from less. We do this by taking an open and proactive approach to recruitment, and offering attractive development opportunities to ensure we retain talent.

Available positions are advertised globally, and through local internet sites, and we use social media to promote opportunities as widely as we can. We engage graduates through job fairs and career days, and offer graduate programs throughout the business and across our global operations.

Our performance management and talent programs focus on defining goals that are right for the individual and our organization. We have corporate goals, against which all team and individual goals must align. We encourage ongoing dialogue between employees and line managers, supported by a defined development plan and regular reviews.

Our talent programs assess an employee’s potential and help determine their development needs and career planning requirements. We focus on the individual, ensuring that each person develops both personally and professionally in line with their own needs and aspirations, and those of the organization.

What is Syngenta’s employee turnover?

In 2016, our employee turnover rate was 12.2%. This figure includes voluntary and involuntary leavers and those employees leaving the organization due to restructuring. The proportion of voluntary leavers was 6.0%. Our leadership teams regularly review retention rates and we focus on employee engagement, development opportunities, and offering competitive reward packages to help us retain the best people.

Read more in our Annual Review (p. 36)

How does Syngenta appraise employees’ performance?

We maintain a formal performance management process, which aligns individual, team and organizational goals, improves performance, and supports individual development.

Through this process, we support personal development and recognize individual contribution. The process is owned by line managers with support from our Human Resources teams. All employees are expected to take personal accountability for their performance and development using our framework of setting goals, planning appropriate development opportunities, reviewing progress at mid-year and assessing performance at year-end. This framework is also linked to our Short-Term Incentive program.

The performance criteria are based on an individual’s contribution throughout the year. The contribution of each individual is recognized by assessing the “What”, which describes the tangible deliverables linked to individual and team objectives, and the “How”, which describes the behaviors and ways of working in alignment with our values and leadership model.

Is sustainability incorporated into Syngenta's performance management systems?

Syngenta developed The Good Growth Plan as a measure for the sustainability of its strategy. All employees, including senior executives, are subject to a formal annual performance management process, which aligns individual, team and organizational objectives. Active participation in The Good Growth Plan is bringing the concept of sustainability to life across the company and is heightening awareness of the importance of each individual’s work.

The Long-Term Incentive Plan for the Executives is subject to secondary performance measures. Key elements in this are performance measures related to The Good Growth Plan.

Read more about the compensation principles in our Corporate Compensation Report

What is Syngenta’s Employee Value Proposition?

At Syngenta, our Employee Value Proposition (EVP) sets out what we stand for and offer as an employer, and what we expect from current and potential employees. Syngenta offers a combination of monetary and non-monetary rewards. Our compensation principles provide a transparent, performance-oriented and market-competitive compensation framework for all employees, including senior executives. The non-monetary elements allow Syngenta to differentiate itself from competitors and play a key role in attracting potential and retaining current employees. We offer attractive career development programs to allow our people to grow personally and professionally and a stimulating and collaborative work environment where diverse backgrounds are valued and talents are nurtured.

At the same time, we expect from our employees to proactively plan and manage their career development in close collaboration with their line manager. Our employees are also expected to contribute to the success of the company through their open participation, co-creation and innovation.

The EVP serves to strengthen Syngenta’s position as an employer in a competitive marketplace. It supports our culture and enables us to attract, motivate, engage and retain highly qualified, employees to deliver the strategic plans and goals of the company.

Read more

What are the Syngenta Awards?

Through a combination of global and local programs, we recognize employee contribution through incentives, development programs, as well as through our cultural programs. One example of the latter is the Syngenta Awards which gives teams around the world the opportunity to gain recognition for particular projects that bring our values to life. More than 6,700 stories have been shared since the Awards began in 2005, demonstrating innovation that achieved major breakthroughs, determination to overcome challenges, or care and concern for the world and the environment.

What are the elements of compensation at Syngenta?

We reward our employees based on their performance and in line with local market conditions in each country where we operate. Our compensation system links compensation to both individual performance and the financial success of our company. The compensation package we offer includes:

  • Fixed compensation – base salary
  • Variable compensation – short-term incentive plans and, for selected leaders, long-term incentive plans
  • Benefits

Employees are subject to a formal annual performance management process. Annual performance ratings influence both the annual base salary and variable compensation elements of our overall compensation structure. Our performance management system also emphasizes the need for coaching and development alongside appraisal.

Variable compensation, in the form of short- and long-term incentive programs, is determined by the level and scope of the individual’s job, as well as the external market value of the respective job, the location, business performance and individual performance. The short-term incentive is paid in cash. The equity-based long-term incentives are granted in the form of restricted shares, restricted stock units and/or stock options.

Benefits for our employees include pensions, insurance and healthcare plans that are designed to provide a reasonable level of security for our employees and their dependents in respect to retirement, health, disability and death in service. The level of benefits is subject to country-specific laws, regulations and market practice.

Read more about our compensation system in our Corporate Compensation Report

How does Syngenta measure employee engagement?

We actively focus on developing engagement activities to create links between our strategy and employees’ individual contribution. This includes:

  • Local events such as site town-hall meetings, leadership meetings and focus groups, which provide targeted feedback and insights into wider issues at local and regional levels.

  • Worldwide leader-led meetings, which provide employees the opportunity to learn about our strategy, culture and values, and offer them a forum to engage with leaders and voice their opinion.

  • Leader breakfast sessions at our head office in Basel, which provide a relaxed and informal environment where employees can talk to members of our Executive Committee and senior leaders and discuss hot topics, ask questions and take part in active discussions.

  • The performance management process also provides formal opportunities to create links with our strategy and employees’ contribution, aligning individual, team and organizational goals.

  • We provide an internal social media channel for employees to share best practice and connect widely across the organization. It also gives leaders a new way to get feedback, and to recognize achievements and celebrate success.

  • We have a regular on line pulse survey to provide employees a chance to give feedback, give leaders actionable insights and allow us to measure employee engagement, wellbeing and other indices.

The output of these engagement activities is then used to inform our strategies – for example a focus on cultural issues led to further developments in our values and leadership model. Our change management processes also help us collect employee feedback and engagement during any periods of change in the business. 

Diversity and inclusion

What is Syngenta’s approach to diversity and inclusion?

We value diversity and inclusion of people, communities, and customers. Embracing the unique perspectives and capabilities of our employees is helping us catalyzing innovation, maximizing performance and creating business value. Our employees reflect the diversity of our customers, the markets where we operate and the communities which we serve.

A diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace environment are enablers of our ambition to bring greater food security in an environmentally sustainable way to an increasingly populous world. To increase our focus on these enablers, we have launched our Global Diversity and Inclusion Policy in 2014. Leveraging our global focus areas on Gender, Generation and Geography, our current approach emphasizes building awareness and capability through online and classroom engagements or trainings. 

How does Syngenta measure diversity and inclusion performance?

We review ongoing progress on our diversity parameters through related metrics. Relevant key performance indicators - such as the proportion of women and number of nationalities represented in senior management - are published in our Annual Review (p. 56).

Learning and development

How does Syngenta determine and manage learning and development needs?

We encourage personal and professional growth through a culture of continuous learning. Our global reach and the wide range of careers we offer provide employees with the opportunity to excel and fulfill their potential. Individual employees produce personal development plans suited to their own developmental requirements. These development plans are discussed and agreed with line managers and included in the development and planning part of the annual performance planning process.

We place great emphasis on developing our leadership and people management skills. We have high-class learning and development, including virtual / e-learning modules, training programs (both online and in the classroom), individual and cohort development journeys over the course of a year or more and one-off interventions and events. Our learning and development teams are constantly working on new programs to build the capabilities required by our industry. For example, our MyCrop training program ensures employees understand farming requirements from the perspective of the grower, as well as bespoke development programs for our high potential employees and for the different leadership populations at the different work levels.

We also offer specialist training programs for key business functions. For example, our MaSE program is designed by Syngenta and the business school, INSEAD, to provide a deep understanding and application of key marketing concepts. The ultimate objective is to support the Syngenta strategy, across all divisions through customer driven innovation in both product and customer marketing.

Read more about employee development in our Annual Review (p. 36)

Does Syngenta provide leadership education?

We understand that leadership development happens in many different ways – through learning from experience and challenges in assignments, by coaching or by being coached, through best practice exchanges, or through our Global Leadership Development Curriculum.

The Global Leadership Development Curriculum consists of a series of distinct programs. For example, our Leading Leaders at Syngenta program is offered to second level leaders (i.e. the leaders of leaders) and places emphasis on the role of leaders to develop others, to set and communicate their strategy, and to continually work on and develop employee engagement. We also have programs for high potential employees, such as our Agribusiness Leadership Plus program, which is designed to develop a deep, holistic appreciation of the food and agribusiness system.

Our approach to leadership development recognizes the importance of focusing on local needs. We ensure our global leadership strategies and qualities are translated consistently and effectively to local audiences.

How does Syngenta measure performance in learning and development?

We measure performance in learning and development through metrics such as investment in leadership and talent development. These are reported in our Annual Review (p. 56).

Health, safety and wellbeing

What is Syngenta’s commitment to health and safety?

The health and safety of our people is our first priority and we seek to maintain an industry-leading approach to employee health and safety. Our values and Code of Conduct demonstrate our strong commitment to the health and safety of our employees, customers and the communities in which we operate.

We foster a culture where everyone is expected to take personal responsibility for their own health and safety. Our robust global health and safety policy and standards are communicated through local training programs at all our sites. We have a Health, Safety and Environmental (HSE) management system in place and we monitor performance across all our operations. Each site reports health and safety performance on a monthly basis through our Health and Safety Reporting System.

Read more about our Health, Safety and Environment Policy and Standards

How does Syngenta measure its health and safety performance?

All our sites are required to report performance on a monthly basis through our Health and Safety Reporting System. Key performance indicators include near-miss occurrences, non-injury incidents, injury and illness rates, as well as first aid cases and cases related to illnesses and stress. We are committed to continuously invest to keep our recordable injury and illness rate (IIR) below our target of 0.5.

We report our health and safety performance for both permanent employees and contractors under our direct supervision in a consolidated way. We believe that, from a health and safety perspective, there is no difference between the two groups. For more information see our Annual Review (p. 36).

Do the same health and safety policies, practices and support apply to both employees and contractors?

Contractors managed directly by Syngenta (such as security services or contracted employees) are expected to uphold our policies on health and safety in the same way as our employees are. We also have policies to ensure that work carried out by any contractors is conducted with proper regard to the health and safety of workers and others. We provide relevant information and ensure that adequate management control systems are in place. We report our health and safety performance for permanent employees and contractors in a consolidated way, as we believe that, from a health and safety perspective, there is no difference between the two. For more information see our Annual Review (p. 36).

Contractors managed through third parties are subject to our global requirements for suppliers which include health and safety. We also conduct and report on our health, safety, environment and quality assessments of chemical suppliers and warehouse and logistics service providers globally. For more information on these assessments and our approach to responsible supply chain, see Annual Review (p. 20) and (p. 40).

What is Syngenta’s commitment to organizational health and employee wellbeing?

Our people’s passion and diversity are core assets and key elements of our brand. Respect for their health and wellbeing is a core value and our success is dependent on it.

Our commitment to the health of our people is an important part of our approach to corporate responsibility, and supports our ‘health through action’ value. Our
Code of Conduct, supporting corporate policies, and codes of practice are clear on the importance of providing employees with a safe working environment.

We offer a range of wellbeing programs tailored to local needs, including sports centers, healthy options at staff restaurants, health checks, family counseling services and access to legal advice.

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