Analysing Unilever Regarding Hrm Issues

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Analysing Unilever Regarding HRM Issues| 10th November2011
Assessment 2: Written Assignment| |

Table of Contents

Selection of the Company and Key HR Data2
Staff’s Strategic Importance and Uniqueness2
Labour Turnover as a Strategic Issue3
Identifying Particular Problems in Labour Turnover3
Quantitative Method3
Qualitative Method4
Primary Causes of Labour Turnover4
Preventing Labour Turnover4

Selection of the Company and Key HR Data

Unilever is the company in which this assignment is going to be based on. I chose this company because I’ve been following its growth and development in Portugal for the last few years. This because a member of my family has been working in this company for the last three years and that triggered my interest in such a company. It amazed me how big the company is and how come hadn’t I heard about it before, I actually found out that most of the food (including margarine, beverages, ice creams, etc.) and cleaning products I had at home had that unique “U” printed in the back of the pack.

This Multi National Company has over 160.000 employees, from which 97.000 work in Asia, Africa and CEE, 41.000 in the Americas and 29.000 in Western Europe. Unilever invests a lot in R&D and has “more than 6,000 scientists, engineers, chefs and technicians working in Unilever's R&D centres around the globe, inventing new products and improving existing products to delight consumers everywhere”, even though the largest part of the company’s employees are factory workers. ( Staff’s Strategic Importance and Uniqueness

The employees in a company can be divided in four types of workforce: knowledge employees, alliance partners, job-based employees and contract workers. (Lepak and Snell, 1999) In Unilever we can say that only knowledge employees and alliance partners have a high level of uniqueness even though job-based employees are strategically very important.

Scientists, engineers, chefs and technicians are examples of knowledge workers in Unilever. These have a high level of uniqueness and strategic weight because they assure the company’s competitive advantage in its products’ quality and distinctiveness. Most of these work in R&D, developing new products and enhancing the actual ones, therefore they have to be excellent professionals as they have such responsibility in the company’s success. (

As alliance partners we can mention the consultancy or audit firms that work along with the company in order to enhance its presence in the market, referring to consultancy firms and to establish consistency of information and provide reasonable assurance that the accounts are free from material error, in what refers to audit firms. These don’t have that much high level of uniqueness. However they are totally indispensable, meaning that an audit firm, for example, is crucial for a company to maintain its performance, but its level of uniqueness isn’t that high because there are lots of audit firms that can do the same job one does. Another kind of alliance partners is suppliers and in this matter it’s important to utter that their level of uniqueness is really high as they can supply essential and rare materials, in terms of quality for example and therefore they are very important and unique in guaranteeing the company’s competitive advantage.

Most of the job-based employees are easily replaced since they don’t have any special characteristic in terms of knowledge or skills. Factory workmen are one example of these. But even though they are not unique, they, as a whole, represent a strategic instrument because they play a key role in the company itself.

Regarding contract workers, these work externally to the company and aren’t neither unique nor strategically important. A company in charge for cleaning the factories is an example. Each worker of this cleaning company is a contract worker and can be...
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