Unilever Organisation Structure: A UK Multi-national Company - Essay Prowess

Unilever Organisation Structure: A UK Multi-national Company


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Unilever Organisation Structure: A UK Multi-national Company

1.0 Introduction-Overview of Unilever

Unilever UK limited is a multi-national company that started in 1929, which produces food, beverages, cleaning products, and personal care products. It has its headquarters in London and Rotterdam, Netherlands (Unilever UK & Ireland, 2019). It has branches in 190 countries with over 400 brands. Their products include Omo, Lux, Rexona, and axe, to name a few. In addition to their numerous diversifications, both geographically and product-wise, they manage over 174,000 employees in the world. This needs a well- structured human resource system. They attribute most of their success over the years to their personnel. This is an overview of the Human Resource management system (Unilever “raises the bar” in terms of leadership performance, 2006).

2.0. Functions of the HR department

Human Resource Management refers to the strategic method of managing the human capital in an organisation. The goal is to make the most out of them so as to gain the most out of their performance in the company. The process begins with advertising, recruiting, selecting, training, compensating, directing and maintaining employees. The human resource department is in charge of providing the necessary knowledge and tools to make the above operations happen.

Strategic planning.

This is the process of detailing the expected capability and performance of a company for a specific period of time. This is done to make sure the resources stay in line with the plan at hand.

Recruitment and selection

The HR department is responsible for staffing. This means aligning jobs with people who have the capacity and ability to fulfil them. The process starts with advertising the available vacancy and then goes through multiple interviews before the final selection of the suitable candidate. This process may take months in some cases.

Training and development

Once the staff is hired, it is the responsibility of the HR team to ensure growth within the workers. This is important in ensuring everyone knows how to accomplish given tasks in the most effective way possible. In many cases that may go through a number of different stages before the actual development is completed.

Compliance with organisations policies.

The HR department is responsible for making sure the company does not use practices other than the setting governmental laws in its lines of operation while fulfilling all requirements. This also includes regulations within the organisation. Conflict resolution and disciplinary action are also done in this department.

Performance appraisal

This is checking how the output compares to the desired outcomes in the plan. Performance management allows the organisation to appreciate workers on merit as opposed to rank. It is a way to check on areas that need improvement and those to maintain.

Reward management

The HR department keeps workers focused on something, and creates a company culture around it. The rewards may not be in a form of money in a certain cases.

3.1. Workforce Planning

Workforce planning is the process that is used to ensure that the organisation’s needs and those of the workforce are aligned with the overall legislative, regulatory, production, and organisational objectives. In Unilever, the workforce plans are long term, medium term, and short term. The long-term plans are focused on financial and investment planning. The medium-term plans are concentrated on analysing the requirements of the workload and headcounts. The short-term plans, on the other hand, are updated on a weekly or daily basis to ensure that material control is done along with scheduling.

Advantages and weaknesses

The benefit of workforce planning in Unilever is that it takes account of various scenarios and timelines. On the other hand, it can lead to significant losses if there are disruptions in the company’s operations.

3.2. Recruitment and Selection

Recruitment is the process used to gather a large number of people for a vacancy in an organisation while the selection is the process of shortlisting only the candidates who are qualified and legible for the job. HR at Unilever follows a thorough process to determine the skills, abilities, and flexibility of the required employees. The recruitment policy at Unilever is simple and straightforward and involves the branch management informing the head office in case there is a vacancy. The head office is responsible for placing an advertisement in major newspapers containing all the information that is relevant to the job. The policy also ensures that the company’s name is not mentioned in the ad because hiring is done through a third party.

The selection follows standard processes whereby after the application is received, the employee does an evaluation and employment test. This involves testing of analytical abilities, computation abilities, skills such as verbal and writing, and an examination of general knowledge contained by the applicant (Hook & Jenkins, 2002).


The recruitment and selection processes used by Unilever have helped the company gain qualified employees who have helped the company grow and increase its market share.


A deficiency of the methods is that they have been criticised for lacking transparency in some instances. It may be also difficult to react in times of change in the business environment.

3.3. Development and Training

Training is the learning process that new employees are involved in so that they can acquire the essential skills for the job. It is also done to existing employees when there are changes in the way things are done.  On the other hand, development is continuous and a long-term process. The types of training that are provided by Unilever include managerial training, skills training, quality training, professional and legal training, training about technology, and safety training. The training covers a large variety of topics and segments and ensures that the employees are fit for the job. The training methods include coaching, conferences, web-based training, mentoring, and seminars.

On the other hand, development is done continuously through established events and training seminars, which are mandatory for the staff. Training is both in-house and external. External training is provided by trainers who have training institutes and involves the taking of feedback about the effectiveness of the practice. On the other hand, in-house training is done by the managers to their subordinates.

Advantages and weaknesses

The use of both in-house and external training in Unilever increases the exposure that the employees have and ensures that they gain varied skills. These skills enhance the organisational capabilities, therefore increase the output that can be produced from the same amount of workforce.

However, at certain times that effort may not be enough for some employees due to lack fundamental skills. Furthermore, if the process is not implemented in effective way, that may be cost and time-consuming effort without a visible result.

3.4. Performance Management

Performance management in Unilever ensures that there are activities that are meeting the goals of the company efficiently and effectively. In involves the setting of performance goals, the delegation of responsibilities, coaching employees to ensure that they stay committed, motivating the employees by recognising their contribution, evaluating their performance, and planning for career development. The organisation’s mission is at the core of performance management and is supported by strategic objectives, strategic goals, performance goals, initiatives, and programs. There are performance indicators and targets which ensure that the employees stay connected to the overall plan.

Advantages and weaknesses

Performance management at Unilever is aligned with the mission of the company, and this has helped it maintain a clear focus.

From the other side in certain cases the overall contribution could be hard to be evaluated based on statistical figures.

3.5. Rewards Systems

The company offers the reward systems are extrinsic. These are direct and indirect financial rewards, non-financial rewards, performance-based rewards, and membership-based awards. Examples of performance-based rewards at Unilever are individual bonuses and commissions. Rewards based on membership are annual increments of salaries and yearly bonuses. Financial rewards, such as house rent, are also offered to some of the employees. Indirect ones are transportation and medical allowances. Finally, non-financial rewards are parking spaces, SPA vouchers, interesting office spaces, and special work assignments.

Advantages and weaknesses

The reward system in Unilever has been criticised for being unfair and beneficial for some of the high-level employees only. However, the company provides an excellent medical cover, which is a great reward.

For the employee, the feeling of being valued and respected raises their contentment in the job especially from intrinsic rewards. Reward systems promote fairness in the workplace as merit is given on other aspects as opposed to rank. The motivation to work harder and effectively raises productivity and profit for the employer. Unilever also has a high chance of retaining employees.


4.1. Effectiveness of employee relations and employee engagement

These relate to the way employees interact, solve conflicts, and maintain morale, satisfaction, and engagement.


Unilever Company is an excellent example of employee management. In this way, it has participated in numerous activities to ensure they keep their employees pleased. They can significantly attribute their success and growth to the satisfaction of their workforce. To begin with, they carry out staff assessment to determine their levels of motivation. They installed a device where all employees log in every day to state their levels of satisfaction. The data collected is used to analyse and make the necessary changes to increase it. They also launched a social impact hub, aimed at introducing the employees to social activities as part of their corporate social responsibility. In the process, workers gained information on human rights at work (Zibarras & Coan, 2015).

Advantages of tracking staff morale

Tracking employee motivation ensures that the employees are continuously happy and that their high morale is maintained. The result is a high satisfaction commitment to the company. Unilever has implemented very innovative ways to ensure that the employees are happy as Unilever Klev is an example which is the use of technology, which makes communication within the company very easy. Unilever uses the software to ensure that it secures customer satisfaction data and maintains helpful HR strategies. The interphases are friendly to both the management and employees. The approach helps with scheduling, communication, and management of part-time employees and freelancers the HR strategies used by Unilever also have a significant impact on the company’s stock.

Employee engagement

Unilever supports and promotes the health and wellbeing of its employees to ensure that they have happy lives at home and when working. Unilever supports its employees and pushes them to be the best that they can be. This is done through the provision of tools that help these employees to enhance their wellbeing so that they can work safely and effectively. The use of a four-pillar framework helps to address all aspects of employees’ lives, which include physical, mental, emotional, and purposeful lives. One of the critical purposes of the well-being strategy is to develop an environment that supports the employees’ personal lives and meets the company goals ((workplace and Improving employee health, 2019).

4.2 Adoption of flexible organisation and flexible working practice

Unilever has a flexible working system whereby they adopt an agile working system. This is to say that they have a formally agreed-upon working hour structure. This could involve fewer hours. They also have flexible offices where space can serve several purposes, with no fixed workstations. The company also have a technology adaptable format where workers can work elsewhere as long as they deliver results. In addition to that, they have paid leaves, including maternity and paternity leave. As result is the improved efficiency as workers do not feel coerced to work but work willingly and openly. Scheduling and planning become smooth as they are not fixed. The employees are allowed to do other things outside of work while focusing on results. In this kind of system, employees are retained at a higher rate. Lastly, there is increased efficiency and productivity, as well as motivation and satisfaction (Zibarras and Coan, 2015.


4.3 Importance of employees’ relations

The employees work together towards a common goal. They are joined by unity and cohesion, striving to meet the organisation’s goals. Secondly, the organisation structure of the company flows effectively without hitches making the HRs work much more straightforward. Since there are structured ways to deal with conflict, cooperation and respect are exercised among members. People also feel empowered to voice their opinions without the fear of being fired. This may lead to innovative solutions. Workers may form an attachment with their jobs and their employees due to the established atmosphere in the workplace. Cumulatively, all these help in the organisational progress. What this means for the HRM decision making process is that they have to kappa devising new ways of maintaining that status or else risk chaos. Other than that, the smooth running of the workforce frees up time to further the company as opposed to redundant problem-solving.


5.0 Areas of employment legislation

In Unilever, the following areas have regulations about the employees.


This sector governs the way employees conduct themselves in transactions. They are encouraged to make all their dealings transparent and open. They should not participate in any shady deals, not engage in bribery or money laundering activities. They are not supposed to give or receive any gifts to receive or give any favours to anyone. They are also expected to take care of company property or else risk liability for any destruction or loss. They are also likely to practice accuracy in all their recordings and accounting to give a clear picture of any data or statement about the company. They are also likely to be open when declaring any possible conflict of interest with anyone during any dealings.

Respecting people

Occupational health and safety

Safety is a crucial issue in Unilever. All management is responsible for ensuring that their staff and any third party in their care are conversant with their rules. They should also wear appropriate protective gear at all times. All people in the buildings should be made aware of the safety procedure in case of an emergency, such as a gas leak or fire. They are also regulated not to work when under the influence of alcohol or any drug. Only people with the required technique and skills are allowed to operate machinery or any studies (Brewster, 2017).

Respect dignity and fair treatment

All workers are required to treat everyone with dignity. They are free from all sexual, gender, or racial harassment and should all be treated with equity. Unilever seeks to provide equal opportunities to all, as long as they meet the required criteria and job description. The managers are required to provide well documented and agreed upon terms of employment to all workers. They are also subject to fair wages based on conditions of the agreement. There are also rules against child and forced labour (Brewster, 2017).

Safeguarding information

All employees are required to protect company information and only share it on a need to know basis to the appropriate people. There exists a chain within which information is distributed. Persons are required to share information. There are limits to how far from the company’s premises that one can disclose or carry company info. They are also not allowed to share anything that would lead to insider trading. Any information like an incoming merger, change in the executive leadership, and the introduction of a new product or business forecasts should not be disclosed. Slander is also prohibited under this policy. Employees are also required to keep information about customers, suppliers, or even fellow employees private. Only relevant data should be collected or dispersed at a given time. There are also limitations on how Information technology should be used. This includes laptops, computers, emails, social media accounts, and messaging. Any involvement with these mediums should be in life with company policy. Care must be exercised when using any of them.

Engaging externally

Unilever is a leading company that promote environmentally friendly practices. This means that they expect the same from all their employees. All innovation and research should be safe and documented for future reference.  All products should be safe and maintain quality standards.

Consequently, all scientific operations should be approved by the company and not self-initiated. As stated earlier, there are rules as to what and how much one can share with the media, analysts, or even investors. Restraint should be exercised. Lastly, all marketing efforts should be truthful and precise to avoid confusion or misunderstandings with customers (Unilever.com. ,2019).

6.0 Conclusion

The report shows a detailed analysis of Human Resource Practices in general. Moreover, it present how an global organisation such as Unilever Company use them in practice. It goes to show that they have put great effort into ensuring the smooth running of things, prompting their numerous successes over the years. It is important to note that they are not perfect; thus, a few changes could prove very useful. For instance, the appraisal system could stand to grow. That being said, a lot can be learned from their framework.


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