Human Resource Management in the Unilever Context

HRM at Unilever


Company Overview and Introduction

Unilever PLC is a multinational company that is dual-listed in the Netherlands and the UK, with the headquarters of each being in Rotterdam and London, respectively. The company operates in many parts of the world such as central and eastern Europe, Africa, Asia, north and south America as well as western Europe. The company, whose foundation is traced back to 1895 through the formation of the Lever brothers, started with the innovation of its flagship product of Sunlight Soap which became the ideal product to proliferate the growth of the company as it looked to revolutionize hygiene around the home environment (Unilever global company website, 2020). However, the company, as of today, has more than 11 major brands, which are precisely the brands that cover the entire brand’s profitability bulk. Additionally, the company has over 400 brands and products that form the entire brand that is available to the global market. Most of the products include foods and beverages, which account for over 40% of the company’s production and sales as well as other home care and personal care products in the line of hygiene. The Unilever brand is, therefore, a multibillion brand that houses other brands in terms of the products it has created over time, and it is a global driver of raw materials processing because most of its products are highly dependent on agricultural products around the world. The company’s impact on the global production of certain agricultural products is unequaled, with the company buying about 6% of the world’s tea and tomato, alongside other agricultural materials needed for its production processes such as palm oil.

Unilever PLC is available in over 190 countries worldwide and operates about 100 subsidiaries in these countries. Therefore, the company has employed about 174,000 people meaning that the company is a global driver of the economy, mainly because it has many families depending on the wellbeing of their employees across the globe (Unilever global company website, 2020). Consequently, the company has had to invest a lot in the management of its human resources alongside other resources that are key to the growth and development of the company. Further, the multinational company analysis shows that the company has tailored its products close to the people at home, and most of the products are products that people handle daily on a personal or family level. Consequently, the brand is a home name in most countries in which it operates, and it has taken much investment to ensure that people stick to its products for over a century because of the reliability and quality of its products. Over the years, the company has managed to maintain its market share and continually expanded its hold in many regions, albeit the challenges that accompany globalization and the expansion into new markets. The company has continually made profits amounting to billions of euros each year, and the continued growth shows that the company has made active efforts to seize opportunities and maximize its profitability.

In recent years, the company has improved its long-term strategic plan to cover the needs of the changing global environment, and thus it has committed itself to sustainable growth. According to the website, the company whose products are used by over 2.5 billion people around the world has indicated its commitment to the development of sustainable growth as it embarks on the production of goods for use by people. The company needs to ensure that it has complied with the regulations set in each of the 190 counties for each of the 400 brands it houses in order to remain a globally acceptable and competitive brand (Unilever global company website, 2020). Therefore, the following analysis looks at how the management of Unilever’s human resource has contributed to the overall growth with insights on the primary and intricate concepts of Human resources in the business world. The paper will examine human resource management concepts, detailing the general practices that are deemed profitable for a company while the practical application bit will focus on how Unilever PLC has employed these concepts in its business model. The choice of the company is because, in a nutshell, the company has attributed its continued growth and profitability to its ability to maintain the best human resource team and working with human resource leaders who have revolutionized the application of human resource concepts in its business model.

Functions and Purposes of Human Resource

Human resource is the art of managing the workforce or employees of a company in a way that helps the company to achieve its goals. Mostly, every organization or company is made up of several people who assist in the daily activities that help the business or organization run. Therefore, the core function of human resources is to facilitate the daily activities deemed essential to making a company functional (Delery and Gupta, 2016). With this function, there are many responsibilities that the said employees who are part of the human resource of a company must undertake in the best way possible to maintain a degree of progress that is vital to the company. For the progress to be consistent and in tandem with the goals and objectives of a company or organization, the actions by each of the employees must be geared towards maintaining the set code of ethics and the required input that will generate productivity. Therefore, the human resource needs contestant monitoring and management, and therefore, a company must have a unit in the business model that accounts for and manages the human resource to align to the company’s strategic plan and proliferate growth.

Since all departments in a company or an organization, the role of human resource management is to explicitly manage how a company acquires and allocates duties to each employee or team. Overtly, the role of the Human resource management office is to staff and train or motivate the staff to work towards accomplishing the goals and objectives of a company using the guidelines that a company has laid out as well as following the sustainability and demands of specific skills and talents. Therefore, the Human resource manager is tasked with not only the identification of people who can bring the best input to a company but also nurturing and pooling the most talented employees in a company to help the company position itself for the future. The future development and innovation in a company depend on the employees who are currently in positions of influence and without correct management, the company may lose out because it is not able to tap into the full potential of a talented person or instead, these talented people may seek other companies where their skills are rewarded better. Therefore, another function of the human resource department is the retention of employees, which comes with a lot of strategies and investment into the wellbeing of each individual employee (Papa, Dezi, Gregori, Mueller, and Miglietta, 2018). The department must ensure that there are systems that foster the retention of employees because of the perks of working with the company, albeit in a controlled and sustainable manner that allows for sustainable growth of the company (Jabbour and de Sousa Jabbour, 2019).

Another critical function of the human resource department is conflict management in the daily socialization of the employees in a company. Especially in the contemporary world of business, the aspect of diversity has brought with it many benefits to companies, but again, it has a fair amount of challenges (Papa, Dezi, Gregori, Mueller, and Miglietta, 2018). Due to a diverse demographic and a perceivable difference in opinions and perspectives, the human resource department has had to evolve in the way it handles employees from diverse backgrounds. Conflicts in the socialization processes have evolved, and the role of the human resource manager is to handle conflicts in the most amicable ways that do not infringe on the rights of any employee involved. Conflict resolution is essential in every organization because it helps to maintain a level of decorum in the company and allows people to communicate and work within the well-needed honesty and transparency. Therefore, the role of human resource managers is seemingly a deeply entrenched role that helps to control and manage how people interact and how they work towards the achievement of goals (Sim, King, and Price, 2016). It touches on some of the crucial aspects of business, such as productivity, and without a functional human resource department, a company will struggle with productivity. Again, it also touches on the current dynamic changes occurring to staffing, and it is the role of Human resource management o contain any issue that emanates from the conflicts that may ensue. Additionally, communication can be deeply affected by the failure of the human resource managers to control the way employees interact; thus, it touches on one of the most significant drivers of success in any organization or company.

Human Resource Management in Practice

Human resource planning is one of the proactive activities by the department to continually and systematically plan to utilize the potential of the already employed staff fully. Planning in the sense that the company has distinct roles that meet specific objectives is a duty of the human resource managers and the entire department, which aims at exclusively helping the concerned organization make use of its talented employees. Again, planning goes beyond the scope of allocating duties to the best-fit employees, and it also encapsulates the ideal number of employees required by the company, thus regulating any shortages or surpluses in any docket (Papa, Dezi, Gregori, Mueller, and Miglietta, 2018). The department should be abreast of any of the employees who are leaving well beforehand and plan on any transitions or replacements that are necessary. In case of any other need to replace an employee because of a termination or an emergency exist by a critical figure in the company, it is the role of human resource management to ensure that it has in mind a suitable candidate for the job. Therefore, the most significant benefit of the HR planning process is that it provides continuous skilled labor availability. In turn, this translates to better productivity and sustained growth of the company, which, albeit other factors, may present profitable outcomes for the organization. In practice, the Unilever HR department is continuously planning on the positions that need to be filled in order to keep the company afloat and to ensure that all employees are giving their best input in a suitable environment. Mostly, Unilever has outlined that one of the most significant roles of its HR department is to source and pool the talents of people who make innovation possible in the company. The assertion indicates that the HR department is part of the strategic plan by the entire company, and the role it has been allocated is to maintain a balanced availability of talented and innovative employees (Unilever global company website, 2020). In the planning process thereof, the company must seek to employ or train people whose skills are not only exceptional but adhere to specific requirements by the company.

Another vital practice for the human resource department is the selection and recruitment of employees. While the process of selection and recruitment is part of the HR planning process, it is a vigorous activity that is independent even within the department. Especially for a multinational company such as Unilever, the selection and recruitment process follows certain vital aspects that make the selection and recruitment possible and trustworthy. Since the whole exercise is a process, it is vital to analyze the steps that the HR department must follow to ensure a credible exercise. One, the company must develop a policy on recruitment, which can be the work of the department alone or a joint venture with all other departments. The policy ensures that the company has a firm and concrete foundation upon which it develops its ideals on recruitment and selection of the most suitable candidates. Ideally, a company may have different requirements for the different job descriptions, but the recruitment policy is the basis upon which a company lays down the fundamental requirements during the exercise. The human resource department is fundamentally the most suitable department to draft the policy, and therefore, the head of the department must be a person who is equally innovative, dynamic and accomplished in his/her career. For instance, Unilever has specific policies on recruitment, especially on the skill level needed to fill in vacant positions in the company. However, across many of its subsidiaries, the immediate HR must make sure that the process follows the need of the position, and therefore Unilever has a policy first to analyze a job position and develop a guide to the requirements thereof before searching for the candidate. The selection process is followed after the company has advertised a fully detailed job description of the position, and its strategic advertisement of the posts helps to capture the best candidates in the world suitable for this position. In essence, the reputation of the company has, over the years, helped the company attract very prominent and talented leaders in the positions it has advertised. Looking at the vision and mission of the HR department, the company has succinctly described that the human resource department is committed to developing the individual’s ability to work within the company and help in finding a purpose for every employee. The statement says that at Unilever, people are not defined by their job titles, but the positive impacts they have made at the company (Unilever global company website, 2020). Therefore, with such a policy, the guide to selection and recruitment meets the company policy and seeks to attract the very best suited candidates.

Another critical role and one of the most practical ways of enhancing the training and development of the employees as they are part of the organization. In essence, the buck does not stop where the human resource department hires employees, and it has to go on and invest a lot of time and resources to developing and training the employees to hone their skills, including their interpersonal skills. The training of employees is a necessary requirement for a company that seeks to have a pool of talented and skilled persons working for the company even in the future. The fundamental reason why training and development are essential is that training helps in employee satisfaction, which translates to a better retention rate for the employees the company esteems. Therefore, at Unilever, for instance, they must have a program that will ensure that their hunt for skilled and talented innovative employees is not in vain. Consequently, the company hires and trains those employees, and in the process, the company can identify the talented and skilled employees whom it can position for leadership positions. The company is keen on highlighting its commitment to training and development, which in turn helps the company to build a team of skilled and innovative employees who are behind the success of the company over the years. The investment in developing the workforce is part of the long-term strategic plan by Unilever that has much-proliferated growth of the multinational company over the years it has been in existence (Reitsma, 2001). Consequently, the role of training and development of employees is essential to the development of a future workforce for the company and retaining the best talents a company has acquired over time.

HRM at Unilever
HRM at Unilever

Finally, the other practical bit of the human resource department is the performance management and reward system that a company comes up with in order to help in the sustenance of the wellbeing of all the employees. Performance management is mainly entrenched in the role of the human resource department as a performance appraiser for all the employees in the company. Therefore, it is responsible for the management of performance for individual employees and the consequent actions that follow the poor or excellent performance. Mainly, a company will outline its rewards and bonuses for the company because it is one of the ways that a company ensures the staff remains motivated. Following the company policy on motivation and rewards, a company embarks on motivating employees to give their best to the company because they are rewarded for the same. Ideally, many companies set targets for individuals and teams upon which any extra credit to meeting the goals is awarded accordingly. The process of performance appraisal and awarding the employees is essential in the creation of a satisfied and well-motivated workforce. As in the Unilever statement, the goal of the company is to utilize the employee’s potential fully, the employees remain tired but motivated to work (Reitsma, 2001). In this case, Unilever has perks for those who meet deadlines and targets as well as perks for employees for the sake of being committed to the company. Primarily, there has been a good reputation of the company because of how it treats its employees and most of its subsidiaries being part of the umbrella beneficiaries of the company’s good reputation thus it has attracted the right skilled and talented people in the company that has helped the company to grow and increase its profitability in billions of euros every year.

External and Internal Factors Affecting Human Resource Management

With all these active roles of the human resource department, some factors determine how the company’s department makes decisions, and some of these factors are compelling. One of the internal factors that affect decision making in the human resource department is the executive objectives. Sometimes, the directives by the executive administrators may shape the decisions made by the Human resource department, especially on the cutting off redundant positions or additional positions to meet demands by individual departments. If the executive asks for specific employee-related changes, decision making is affected in the human resource department because it is obliged to work within the confines of the authority of the executives. Additionally, there are external factors that are also essential to determine how the human resource department adjusts to make its decisions. One of the external factors that are quite significant to any company is the legal requirements according to the law of the land. A company must adhere to the ruling of the government in the region it operates, which may shape the policy of hiring and selection. For instance, the government may institute a percentage of inclusivity, such as through affirmative action. Consequently, the company must comply with the inclusivity rules that are laid down in every country and the business legal demands.

Human Resource Management practices in a work-related context.

Design of the job

Position of a Marketing and Research Manager

The perfect candidate for the position should display perfect skills at research and innovative ideas that help the company to deal with the challenge of the global market share distribution for all the brands at Unilever. The position is open to any person who meets the minimum requirements for the application, and their curriculum vitae must indicate they have an average of three years’ experience in the marketing industry because the position requires an advanced level of skill. The candidate must, therefore, indicate that they are capable and have the skills necessary to improve the position of the company in the global realm and contribute to the achievement of goals. Above all, the candidate must be ready to adhere to the code of ethics that is stipulated for all the company employees and strictly show commitment to working towards the achievement of the goals of the company.

Key Responsibilities

CV requirements and Interview notes

The CV of the person must demonstrate that the person is extremely knowledgeable on matters of marketing and brand name promotion through a detailed experience of no less than three years in a company that handles more than one brand. Again, the person must possess leadership skills, especially a transformational leadership portfolio to match the description of a leader who can shape other young department members to take up his position in case of a transition requirement. The person must possess at least a master’s degree in marketing or any other related field, with an emphasis on a reputable institution across the world. Since the key is a global leader handling business in more than one region, a multilingual person will have an added advantage and if the person is positioned for TV and other social networks that promote brands. The company is looking for the face of particular brands, and therefore, a person fitting the accurate description of a brand ambassador would be highly favored.

Job Offer

Unilever PLC, through the human resource manager, is pleased to inform you that you have been selected as the most suitable candidate to hold the position of a Marketing and Research Manager, and officially invites for the inaugural session on 3rd March 2020 which is roughly two months from the drafting of this paper. In the meantime, the company will take care of nay transitional programs and may require you to come to the headquarters in London for a briefing. In order to facilitate your department, take over, the company will place you under supervised guidance by the previous holder of the position for a period of three months, and this will involve a vigorous traveling schedules across Asia, Africa, and American continents, although the central region for the job is right here in the UK. We are pleased to have you in our team, and the whole company is committed to making the best offers and support you may need while taking up your position. Please reach us through the same address in case of anything. Thank you, and good luck. Congratulations are in order from all of us at Unilever PLC.

Evaluation of the Process

The entire process of recruitment at Unilever is systematic and follows the strict guidelines of highlighting the position of a particular position and them placing the advert that attracts the right persons to the position thereof. Ideally, the company must adhere to the policy that the company has put in place and must set targets for the minimum requirements, but the selection process is meant to get the most suitable person according to the demands of the positions as well as the demands of the future of the job positions such as the need to possess leadership skills. A selection must, therefore, be analytical, and a rich CV is a requirement for this position and any other position in many multinational companies.

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