More revamp at Bayer as it axes 90 at its U.S. headquarters in New Jersey

At a recent skull session in a conference room at Bayer’s U.S. headquarters in Whippany, New Jersey—captured in a story last week in The Wall Street Journal—employees gathered around a huge circular floor mat, emblazoned with reorganization mantras such as “dynamic shared ownership” and “reimagining the system.”

These catchphrases are helping Bayer’s staffers understand the company's effort to eliminate its bureaucracy. Another lesson came recently at the U.S. headquarters as Bayer notified 90 employees at the Whippany office that they will receive pink slips.

The layoffs, which are effective on June 19, were revealed (PDF) in a New Jersey Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification. Bayer confirmed the dismissals in an email.

“We are adopting a new operating model and with it, a new organizational structure. Our new way of working will enable more agility, empower employees to innovate and act, and deepen the focus on our mission,” Bayer explained in a statement. “Aligned with this shift, we are adjusting our U.S. structure resulting in some positions being eliminated or redesigned and a few new roles being created.”

Many more layoffs are likely as part of CEO Bill Anderson’s makeover of the struggling conglomerate, which started the year with $34.5 billion in debt and last month revealed a plan to slash investor dividends to the legal minimum over the next three years.

In November, Anderson declared his intent to streamline the company’s management structure, saying there would be a “significant reduction in workforce.” 

Just last week, Anderson dismantled the leadership team of Bayer’s pharma sector, reducing it from 14 to eight executives. In the revamp, Bayer let go of three members of the leadership team and demoted three others. Two months ago, Bayer executed a similar overhaul of its crop science sector, dismissing three execs, each with at least 27 years of experience at the company.

“The problem at Bayer is not the culture—it’s the bureaucracy, it’s the layers, it’s the approvals,” Anderson said earlier this month. “You can have all the positive culture you want, but if it takes five signatures to replace a pump in the plant, then the culture is not going to save you. This is the phenomenon we face at Bayer.”

Bayer is still digging out from its disastrous $63 billion acquisition of Monsanto in 2018, which brought with it legal claims, now numbering in the tens of thousands, that weedkiller Roundup causes cancer.