HR Work

Over the years, Symrise HR employees at all of the sites around the world have increasingly aligned their work with the company’s sustainability strategy. At the same time, they have played an important role in developing the framework for responsible business and growth.

Symrise is reducing the environmental footprint of its products and processes, uses sustainability as a driver of innovation and relies on backward integration to minimize the environmental and social impact of the supply of raw materials. Sustainability is therefore one of the foundations of the business activities that are established throughout our entire value chain.

After footprint, innovation and sourcing, care is the fourth pillar of the sustainability strategy: Symrise wants to generate lasting value for its employees and society, particularly people who live near and work at the various company sites around the world.

The company’s HR department has a major impact on an important part of the care pillar. It makes employees the focus of its work and, in its various regions, presents Symrise as an attractive, preferred employer that engages its staff in a sustainable, responsible way. This also includes projects with which the company demonstrates that it takes its local responsibilities seriously. Internally, some 85 HR employees at 20 sites ensure that the working conditions are as good as possible and as standardized as possible around the world – i.e. with the same technical equipment in the laboratories and production lines. The challenges associated with demographic change and diversity management are equally important and differ depending on the country. With various programs for junior staff and managers as well as a real commitment to training, the company is very active in professional development, too. At the same time, it depends on operational health management including work safety being taken very seriously. It is only when employees work in a healthy atmosphere and are motivated by their entire environment that they can perform at peak levels over the long term.

Symrise is also currently focusing on digitizing company processes, with special attention on digital recruiting, as Dr. Iñigo Natzel, Head of Human Resources, explains in detail in the interview on page 70. Finally, all the activities of the company and its employees are based on a foundation of company values (see Our Company) as this is the only way to ensure responsible, sustainable company success over the long term.

Symrise HR employees are not only responsible for seamless HR work and development. They’re also a part of the teams around the world committed to sustainable business. They launch or support dozens of projects that allow the Group to assume responsibility for social and environmental issues in the regions surrounding its sites. A few examples of the global ambassador network’s activities.


The Children’s Cancer Foundation aims to brighten the lives of children with cancer. The nonprofit organization provides emotional, social and medical support for those affected and their families. Symrise supports the organization in a number of ways; for example, 37 employees volunteered to take a group of girls and boys and their parents to the Singapore Zoo.


Symrise supports education for underprivileged children in the Philippines. For example, the company provides financial support for the nonprofit organizations Educational Research and Development Assistance (ERDA) and Lihuk Panaghiusa. Additionally, employees help to package donated school supplies and distribute these to students, among other things.


The Instituto Germinare in São Paulo provides free education for adolescents in order to prepare them for their futures. The training, which is also intended to foster the managers and executives of tomorrow, is partly geared toward developing practical job-related skills. For example, in one project Symrise employees took part in, perfumes were created, including their concept, packaging and campaign.


Symrise is investing € 1.5 million in the digitization of its HR work. The new system supports and organizes the selection process, from initial contact with candidates to when they start at the company, and also provides an electronic personnel file that’s always up to date. Dr. Iñigo Natzel, Head of Human Resources, explains in an interview how this benefits the company as well as current and potential employees.

Dr. Natzel, how important is it to digitize HR work at Symrise?

As a responsible employer, we want to be at the forefront in this arena. We have set ourselves a clear goal: Every position advertised at Symrise must be filled within 60 days, from initial search and evaluation of candidates to the employment contract being signed. To achieve this goal, we have begun digitizing our HR work. We’ll be investing approximately € 1.5 million in the project over a period of around five years. The project goals range from the introduction of a fully digitized selection process, which we launched at the beginning of 2018, to the harmonization of the HR management on a single platform.

Is it worth all the effort?

Financially speaking, it will pay for itself within two years. Once the process is up and running, costs will be much lower for the company. Take, for example, the selection process: The application process has always required a great deal of time and paper, for both the applicant and us. We are represented by HR teams at 22 sites around the world and work in a lot of different languages. We receive around 6,000 applications each year, 70 % of which are unsolicited. By digitizing our application process across the board, we have significantly reduced the amount of processing required. We can also recommend interested candidates for whom there might not be an appropriate job at the one site to other company sites, or save their information for the future, provided we have the applicant’s permission. We’ll also require fewer HR consultants and thus save a lot of money.

Can you describe the digitized selection process in detail?

If a university graduate, for example, is sitting on a subway train and comes across a Symrise job ad on their smartphone – maybe on an online job portal, on our website or via social media – they can apply with just a few clicks. They’ll land directly at our jobs@ Symrise online portal. There they can directly submit relevant information from career profiles such as LinkedIn and XING, rather than having to complete a lengthy form. Or they can submit their résumé as a Word or PDF file.

»We receive around 6,000 applications each year, 70 % of which are unsolicited.«

Do you also use the data you collect for preselection?

While our software does offer algorithms that allow us to search for certain criteria, we also know that a résumé is not everything. We always take a closer look and invite our more promising candidates to an interview. One exception is education: If high school students apply, they should have an average grade of at least 2.5 in Math, English, German and Chemistry.

How does digitization help further along the process of selecting candidates?

We help supervisors identify occupational expertise by offering tests that address math, language and strategic skills. The system also makes it easier to arrange appointments and documents the entire process, from the first job interview and supervisor feedback to all the communication that has taken place. Once an employee has been hired by Symrise, they’re given a user ID, under which their entire career path is documented, from the moment they’re hired to when they retire or leave the company.

Do existing employees also benefit from digitization?

We have overhauled our internal career market, where all job vacancies are published two weeks before they’re advertised externally. We have also created function-specific talent pools that include people who already work at Symrise. In the future there may be a job that’s a better fit for someone or that might give them the opportunity to develop their skills. Every employee can set up reminders that focus specifically on their interests. We will also be introducing an electronic personnel file in 2018. One important aspect will be self-service: Employees can take time off in lieu of overtime, request and plan vacation days, or print out reports such as payroll accounting or sick days themselves. The aim is to increase services for employees across all levels.