Banner for Nutrien’s Evolving Culture of Care

Nutrien is a fertilizer company based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It is the largest producer of potash and the third largest producer of nitrogen fertilizer in the world. Nutrien’s culture is centered around four pillars:

  1. Lead
  2. Challenge
  3. Collaborate
  4. Trust

Nutrien leads by considering the impact the company has on employees, contractors, partners, the community, the industry, and anyone associated with the company. Obtaining a shared culture is important to connect throughout the organization and maintain the flexibility to have different execution, different experience, and different business units operating differently. Empowering employees to speak up and look for opportunities at work and at home sets up a strong baseline for psychological safety.

Nutrien challenges themselves by making an effort make the business sustainable. This goes beyond short-term impacts, as Nutrien expects the company to operate responsibly and sustainably for generations to come. The company constantly reflects on if certain operations are truly the best way to do things, putting an emphasis on safety. Nutrien has full executive support to stop work to reevaluate operations that could be improved and gain clarity from a safety standpoint..

Nutrien collaborates with employees to enable organization members to have the opportunity to share, grow, change teams, and elevate themselves within the enterprise. Nutrien strives to create an inclusive environment in which every opinion, experience, and voice is heard and respected.

Nutrien builds their culture of shared values and safety by trusting each other and their partners. The company also gladly extends their resources and knowledges to anyone beyond their company, including family, friends, communities, and other members of the industry.

“Part of this final pillar around trust is we also ask ourselves: ‘Do we feel like we have a safe platform? Do we feel psychologically safe to stop work, or to have our opinions heard? Do we actively promote Nutrien and have pride in our organization? And would we want our friends and family to work here?’” Jeremy admitted that these are sometimes tough questions.

<p“We also understand that we make mistakes, and its well-acknowledged across our enterprise that we will make mistakes, but we do also acknowledge that we’re going to gain value from the learnings,” continued Jeremy. “So we have to create that safe environment where feedback is valued, recognition is frequent, its safe to speak and stop work when necessary, and we’re going to take these avenues as learnings, and we’re going to integrate them into best practices going forward.

Nutrien has multiple different business units that have different risks, cultures, priorities, locations, experience levels, etc. However, the company has safety, health, environment, process safety, and product stewardship teams across all these areas that provide central support, integration, and connections across different facets of the enterprise. An important distinction is that these teams aren’t meant to dictate, but to provide support to the organization and its members.


Eliminating serious injury and fatality

A significant focus for Nutrien is taking action to eliminate serious injury and fatality, mental health, and technology and innovation.

Nutrien’s nitrogen phosphate transportation and distribution business put forward over 300 leading actions to eliminate serious injury and fatality in 2020. These actions are also shared with others across the business to obtain learnings that would mitigate and eliminate risk in other facets of the business.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Nutrien provided support, PPE, and wellness. The company is very transparent in communicating how the business is essential and how the business will operate in these times. Productivity during the pandemic was almost identical to before the pandemic, and mass lay-offs were not required.


Mental Health

Nutrien has provided events, training, and campaigns in support of mental health and wellness. The company puts an emphasis on its individuals, ensuring they take the time to evaluate their own mental and physical safety.

During the pandemic, Nutrien introduced Triax badges to keep up with contact tracing and to keep employees informed about how long they were in close proximity to others.

Another innovation by Nutrien was to use drones to gauge the company’s impact on the environment. Nutrien uses drones for inspection for elevated areas, as well as to go underwater to inspect inlets to pumps, reducing the need to put employees at risk for these tasks.

Jeremy Mollet concluded his presentation by saying he hoped conference attendees gained some insight into Nutrien’s safety culture. “Its never a recipe or prescription for everyone, but we feel if are looking at these common pillars as our foundation, and providing the flexibility that we’re going to be able to evolve our company, we’re going to come together as an integrated team and enable that look for our operations to find out what is possible, take advantage of all the innovation, whether its technology or social.”

Related articles