Restructure sparks mental wellbeing & internal comms investments

It’s a period of uncertainty for the conglomerate, which recently announced the retirement of long-standing CEO Paul Polman following the collapse of its plans to leave the UK and create a centralised HQ in the Netherlands. His replacement Alan Jope will likely continue with plans to streamline its sprawling business structure. This could have a major impact on staff, with non-essential divisions eliminated and it will likely invest in internal comms to ensure its workforce remains informed and motivated.

The company developed its own chatbot, Una, this year to answer employees’ HR queries, particularly regarding reward and benefits. Predicting that 60% of its workforce will be millennials by 2020 there is a clear drive for benefits that appeal to this demographic. With an aging workforce and different generations working together concurrently the business is planning to move away from a “one size fits all” to a more comprehensive approach, with solutions that are tailored to different age ranges. Unilever currently operates a flexible benefits platform, offering pension schemes, discount schemes, health and wellbeing programmes and a family friendly working environment.

Another key focus heading into 2019 will be mental wellbeing. The company currently promotes mental health communications to staff twice a year and is looking to increase this regularity. It will invest in leadership training, communication, culture and support around mental health, while offering training on how to manage pressure in the workplace. The business uses a “Lamplighter” programme to provide guidance on how to develop strategic initiatives around both mental and physical health.

It's worth noting that Unilever last year sold its margarine and spreads business (including Flora and Proactive) to private Equity Giant KKR for £6bn, following a failed takeover bid by Kraft. As speculation mounts about a further move away from its food business - where own-brand sales are on the up and sales growth is slow - a rethink of internal communications is highly likely.

Revenue: £45bn

Number of employees: 161,000

Financial year end: December 31

HR Providers: Teleo, Silverman Research

New appointments this year:

HR Director – Eleanor Bampfylde

Group Diversity & Inclusion Director – Madhuri Pai

CEO – Alan Jope

Other key contacts:

Chief HR Officer – Leena Nair

Chief Learning Officer – Tim Munden

Global Reward Director – Nicola Wells