Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
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Case study: How Unilever made 410 promotions in 2 years

Crowned as the best training, learning and development team in Asia at the HR Excellence Awards 2015, Unilever’s vision is to double its size by 2020 while reducing its environmental impact and improving its social impact.

To achieve this corporate vision, Unilever’s HR strategy, aptly defined as “winning with people”, was captured in the firm’s roadmap for the future – also known as “the compass”.

“The learning strategy of Unilever is founded on ‘winning with people’, ultimately helping them to develop and grow to become the best versions of themselves. The best part is, everyone has access to these learning opportunities, anytime, anywhere, and the leadership commitment to this is strong, with the senior leadership leading by example,” says Tricia Duran, HR director, Unilever Asia.

Unilever’s L&D framework is fully integrated within its “four acres leadership curriculum”, the Unilever future leaders programme (UFLP) and the newly launched learning hub.

Overall in 2014 alone, 4000 employees in Southeast Asia and Australasia took training and leadership development programmes in Four Acres Singapore.
Between Four Acres and UFLP, Unilever is developing a new generation of leaders who embrace the future with principles, purpose and direction in achieving an ambitious compass vision, and continuously home-growing graduates into business leaders for the future.

Delivering in London and Singapore, Four Acres designs leadership development programmes to accelerate the development of high potentials (for all work levels) and to increase the exposure of fast-track employee “listers”. These are activated globally to ensure the highest quality is delivered in scale.

In 2013, Four Acres delivered nearly 200 programme sessions touching almost 4,000 executives globally.

To ensure the inflow of the best “raw” talent, the company implemented the Unilever future leaders programme (UFLP) across its offices, globally.

Those selected to participate in the UFLP are known as Unilever future leaders (UFLPs).

It is a fast-tracked leadership development programme that balances the developmental rotations with real jobs and real responsibilities from day one.

The UFLP trainees undergo a one-week induction programme and are quickly brought up to speed on business operations and are expected to quickly learn and deliver.

With the introduction of Unilever's new learning hub, the firm has since seen 19,300 e-books downloaded and 36,400 unique hits on its website.
More recently, with the launch of its new learning hubsystem (available online or as an app for learning anytime, anywhere), the company is also enabling employees to take charge of their own development and career through more engaging learning experiences.

With more than 5,000 learning programmes available, development can be tailor-made into an employee’s learning preferences.

Overall in 2014 alone, 4000 employees in Southeast Asia and Australasia took training and leadership development programmes in Four Acres Singapore.

Additionally, with the introduction of the new learning hub in June, the firm has since (as at 1 July) seen:

– 36,400 unique hits.– 18,400 users (49% returning visitors; 51% new visitors).– 19,300 e-books downloaded.– 189 videos watched.

Additionally, with the introduction of the UFLP, there has been a natural change in mindsets to grow leaders from within Unilever. All UFLPs have access to mentors and line managers who provide them the necessary tools to flourish in the organisation.

More recently, this has been formalised in the form of the trainee development group, which provides a network of committed functional mentors, of which UFLPs have access to.

Under the programme, there were about 250 promotions globally of UFLPs into more senior managerial roles in 2014 and nearly 160 promotions (as at end of June) in 2015.

For more case studies from SATS, ANZ, and SMRT, and tips to create your very own effective learning and development programme, head over to the Human Resources’ January-February feature

Image: Shutterstock

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