LyondellBasell Cookbook: A Creative Way to Engage Employees throughout COVID-19

LyondellBasell frequently looks for new and creative ways to make deeper community connections and build more meaningful employee engagement globally. The company recently found a way to do so through the universal language – food.

LyondellBasell introduced an e-cookbook in January 2021 that featured 67 recipes submitted by employees from around the globe. The e-cookbook, meant to support a corporate culture of connecting and sharing, accomplished so much more, including being seen as a nod to the company’s focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). It was also a way to give employees and their families a break from the stress of the global pandemic.

“Food brings people together on many different levels,” said Monica Silva, LyondellBasell senior manager, Employee Communications and Engagement. “Since COVID-19, the opportunities for colleagues to gather together and go out to eat are few and far between. But on the other hand, many of our employees are able to enjoy home cooking with their families. Every individual contributes to shaping the company, and a cookbook that collects all recipes from our people is a product for recognition and appreciation.”

The e-cookbook has five categories: appetizers and soups, breads and pastries, main dishes, sides, and desserts. The recipes cover a wide range of delicious meals. Some of them are traditional local foods, such as pepernoten, a traditional treat that Dutch people eat in December to celebrate Sinterklaas, and peanut chikki, an Indian version of peanut brittle made simply with peanuts and jaggery. Some of the dishes are festival-exclusive, and some of them can be cooked at any time, alone or with others.

LyondellBasell’s Rotterdam office, like many of the company’s other locations, has become a place to encounter various flavors and passion for food. The Rotterdam office is a multicultural hub with employees coming from 47 nationalities and speaking more than 20 languages. The canteen chef at the Rotterdam office, Raimon Hazelaar, shared that he loves to take the opportunity to ask colleagues from different countries what their traditional dishes are and what ingredients they use when cooking those dishes. This inspires Hazelaar to bring surprises to the Rotterdam office’s lunch menu, which can make employees feel right at home, just like the e-cookbook. “The cookbook shares a culture of belonging,” said Hazelaar.

LyondellBasell’s diverse workforce consists of people with multiple social, ethnic, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Something as simple as an e-cookbook has helped send a powerful message in advancing cross-culturalism. Additionally, the cookbook has been one way LyondellBasell continues to drive a culture of inclusion, enhance the presence of diverse talent, ensure across the company that different cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds are acknowledged and celebrated, and benchmark a practice to sustain strong DEI culture by a practical step.

Following the publication of the e-cookbook, LyondellBasell encouraged employees to come up with a fun way to connect with their colleagues. Some of the ideas included hosting a virtual team potluck and coordinating a virtual group cooking class. Other ideas centered around reducing waste and promoting sustainable living, such as finding a dish that encompasses items already in the office pantry or fridge, and twisting a meat dish into a vegetarian one.

In the end, it’s scientifically proven that cooking and baking helps create positive feelings – and that was certainly the case with LyondellBasell’s e-cookbook.