With the changing context of business and volatile economy, there is a need for better-equipped blue-collar workforce who are clearly aligned with business goals
At Hindustan Unilever, (HUL), the ER strategy wheel (which looks at both Tactical and Strategic elements) has been a guiding principle in providing us with a clear vision of our short and long term strategy to be a pioneer in the field of Employee Relations. This year, we have set ourselves an audacious task to develop ER capabilities of the future and be recognized as a thought leader in the area of Employee Relations. Continued focus over the years has helped us reduce the number of man-days we have lost. In 2014 we lost 149 man-days which was a significant improvement of 78 per cent over last year. Till date, we have lost no man days due to IR. We signed four wage settlements in 2014, three out of which were signed ahead/on time. Productivity has gone up in 2014 over the last three years by leveraging higher skill set & productivity linked pay for productivity improvement.
Building Professional skills
Looking closely at the professional skills pro-grams, they are built to address specific functional skill building in individuals and teams, driven by academics and functions. Some of the functions for which we have developed the capability plans are: Supply Chain Capability for shop floor employees, staff and officers/executives Human Resources Capability, Customer Develop-ment Capability, Outsourced Partner’s Capability: Water, Customer Development.
With changing context of business, volatile economy and need for optimization of cost in the FCMG industry, there is need for better equipped blue-collar workforce which has clear line of sight and alignment with business goals. For every new employee, we have a detailed induction that familiarizes them with factory infrastructure, safety, management, work philosophy, shop-floor practices, quality standards, time-attendance related matters et al.
‘SPARKLE’ for blue-collar employees
The India ER team pioneered innovation in capability in 2010 with the launch of ‘SPAR-KLE’ - a training & performance management system which is a revolutionary approach to skill development of our shop-floor employees. It was undertaken to standardize our shop-floor employee and office staff capability management process and consequently develop our workmen capabili-ties. It standardized the performance appraisal and the rating process across all the 30 locations for shop-floor employees covering about ~10,000 employees with the intention to identify high potential. Seeing the excellent results in Capability and Engagement that Sparkle India has driven till 2014, it has now been recognized as a Global Best Practice to be rolled out across all Supply Chain units in 2015. Sparkle has now become a global IT tool to manage Capability and Talent for Blue Collar Employees across Unilever. Sparkle has now become a single global IT tool which will enhance uniformity and transparency across Unilever, to track capability development of shop floor employees and drive a single unified process for skill assessment. The online appraisal system that includes the new “capability card” has gained significant feedback from the employees.
SiO (Stepping into One)
It is a pioneer programme launched to motivate and prepare the High Potential shop-floor employees and staff his next role in Officer Cadre (WL1) and also help us in retaining our key talent while strengthening diverse, talent pipeline for WL1. SiO places the responsibility for career growth of shop-floor employees and staff on the Line Manager, HRBP and the individual. Till date, 76 promoted to WL1A out of 148 talent pool.
Skill Upgradation for Non-Technical Cadre
In our endeavour to strengthen the journey towards skills enhancement, we launched the “ATT to TT” training programme to impart technical skills to our employees so that they could operate machines, address breakdowns and achieve greater productivity. Frontline Leadership Development Program is a three-pronged approach to building leadership capabilities in officers in factories, wherein the first stage is about managing the shop-floor employees and better understanding of employee relations, followed by leadership essentials and finally, a desire to be an effective trainer respectively. Finally, the fourth is about the Job Fundamentals for a front line leader which will be launched later in 2015. The unique aspect of this programme is its structural design where after each stage, an on-the-job application of learning is implemented, with the support of a coach.
As told by Sumit Sen, General Manager - Employee Relations, HUL