Article: Role of HR in digital transformation journey at Unilever

HR Technology

Role of HR in digital transformation journey at Unilever

For Unilever, the focus is customers & consumers when it comes to driving transformational business practices. Heres how they are leveraging technology to reach out to its workforce and consumers
Role of HR in digital transformation journey at Unilever

We continuously refresh our skills dictionary to assess where we stand versus evolving trends and update our learning plans to stay ahead of the curve


Customers and Consumers are at the heart of everything we do at Unilever and digital transformation is a critical enabler to make sure we stay closely connected to them. As the world around us swiftly gets more and more connected, it is unimaginable for brands and organizations to not have a strong online presence or miss out on the power of the rich data available in the market place. The millennials are increasingly looking to find meaning and purpose in the brands or organizations they would like to associate themselves with and hence, it is important to communicate that impactfully. There are greater chances that they will stop actively accessing traditional media like print or TV but would rather end up catching everything happening around the world on their smartphones.  

However, the digital space is getting cluttered with low attention spans and to get our arms around this, we have adopted a 5C model! It comprises of the four pillars of — content (online assets), connect (smart and timely deployment), commerce (simplifying the path to purchase) and community (social media listening) with consumer journeys and interactions at the core. We make it a point to not lose sight of the fact that all our marketing and data analytics need to evolve around how our consumer interact with us and stay true to our objective of delivering best in class digital experience to build our brand equities.

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To build any capability in an organization and embed it far and wide, a holistic set of interventions around talent, skills, structure and processes is needed. We have sent some of our key managers outside for immersions or assignments to pick up best practices in this space and at the same time, leverage the scale of Unilever to bring in the best technology and infrastructure available. We continuously refresh our skills dictionary to assess where we stand versus evolving trends and update our learning plans to stay ahead of the curve. We are known for 'leaders building leaders' and it is not surprising to note that over 2/3rd of the learning delivered in the digital space is through our in-house experts. It works both ways – our leaders share their experiences of experimenting in the digital space and some of our younger and more tech savvy trainees or managers reverse mentor them in this journey!  

 As we do for our consumers, we strive to provide a great everyday experience for all our employees as well and technology has been a critical enabler in this journey. All our key processes from recruitment, learning, performance management, recognition, engagement and communication to managing exits have online interfaces. This helps us tremendously in a couple of ways – enhanced transparency and efficiency. The days when an employee had to struggle to complete formalities or find out what the appraisal reads like are now far behind. Our systems allow for real-time feedback and tracking. Moreover, digitization has also enabled culture change. We have built an online platform where any employee in any part of the business can raise a concern and if he or she is unable to get an appropriate response within a week’s time, it gets escalated to the top management for resolution so that things keep moving forward. The measure of success for this initiative is based on the average closure time and the number of repeated issues of same nature. We have also crowdsourced powerful ideas from our employees through online crowdsourcing and hackathons. 

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Topics: HR Technology, #Digital Transformation

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