Flexibility, family time, and end-to-end support at the heart of Unilever’s employee programs

Marj Casal Handog

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Flexibility, family time, and end-to-end support at the heart of Unilever’s employee programs
Here’s how Unilever is improving the lives of Filipinos starting with their own people

Editor’s note: This content is sponsored by Unilever and was produced by BrandRap, the sales and marketing arm of Rappler. No member of the news and editorial team participated in the production of this piece.

One of Unilever’s ultimate goals is to improve the lives of 100 million Filipinos, more so in this time of pandemic. To do this, they’re starting with their own people.

The pandemic has changed the way we live. It has changed the way we work, too. For some employees, the situation has made it challenging to think about what the future holds for their careers. This is why the role of employers and their response to the effects of the pandemic has been crucial in moving their companies forward.

Encouraging continuous learning

Unilever understood this. At the onset of the pandemic – with most of their employees working from home – they strengthened their learning and development programs to encourage employees to keep on upskilling. Because of this, Unilever Philippines registered the most users in Unilever’s e-learning platform called Degreed. Their employees also actively participated in LinkedIn Learning Licenses. 

VIRTUAL LEARNING. Unilever encouraged employees to keep on learning even during the pandemic.

Apart from these virtual learning platforms, they also had workshops and masterclasses like Purpose Workshops, Agile Fundamentals, Servant Leadership Workshops, and Always-On Digicon and IMMAP Digicon that all aimed to support and upskill their employees.

To further help employees shape their career plans amid the pandemic in 2020, Unilever has launched FLEX, a talent resourcing tool. This tool helps connect employees with various projects within Unilever that they may be interested in and could help them upskill and explore opportunities outside of their current role.

Taking care of employees’ health and well-being

While continuous learning is important for employees, Unilever also acknowledges the importance of making their health and well-being a top priority. 

During the peak of the pandemic, they set up a COVID Support Policy that helped employees and their dependents get access to COVID testing centers through their HMO partner, Maxicare, and the Philippine Red Cross. Unilever also made sure that hospital beds and services would be available to their employees and their family in case the need arose. Lastly, they rolled out a vaccination program for all employees, dependents, and on-site 3Ps.

VACCINE ROLLOUT. Unilever provided COVID-19 support for its employees and their families.

The pandemic not only affected our physical health but our mental health, too. Unilever responded by providing free individual virtual sessions with a dedicated psychologist as well as their company nutritionist to whoever needed it. The company also has what they call Unplug or Focus Fridays, where employees are encouraged to take the half day off to spend on personal or focus time. A company manifesto is also in place to help set boundaries between the employees’ work and home lives, the blurring lines a side effect of working from home.

Thanks to these initiatives that were recognized as global best practices, Unilever Philippines received an 11% improvement in their well-being score. 98% of their employees also found their well-being programs relevant to them.

The future of Unilever’s work 

Like most progressive companies, Unilever recognizes the benefits of flexible work for employees. So, while other companies are mandating their employees to go back to their offices for good as the world opens up, Unilever has made a global commitment to provide flexible employment options by 2030.

They’re kickstarting this commitment with a new employment model called U-Work, a unique employment experience that started in the United Kingdom. Unilever Philippines has then launched this program in 2020. 

Under U-Work, employees can choose to work for only a few days, weeks, or months instead of the traditional 9 to 5, five days a week. Instead of being tied to the company for an indefinite time, U-Work employees can choose to work on various projects for specific amounts of time. The company will pay them a monthly retainer fee as long as they commit to work a minimum of 6 weeks a year. Like regular employees, they can earn a bonus and are entitled to benefits including a healthcare plan and defined contribution pension.

According to Unilever, “it’s for those who are thinking of cutting back but still have lots to give, for example those who would love more quality time with family but want to remain connected to Unilever, those who are considering studying and would like to earn an income while they do it, and those who are interested in starting or running their own business while still doing some work for Unilever.”

As for the rest of Unilever, they’re gearing up for a productive return to the office while maintaining a flexible and hybrid work setup that would benefit both their people and the company.

HYBRID WORK. While some Unilever employees are back in the office, some are also still working from home.

“We need to ensure productivity amidst the prolonged presence of Covid-19, protecting lives as well as livelihoods. We believe that face-to-face collaboration is extremely important for innovation, creative problem solving, and culture building – to unlock further growth,” said Julie Hudtohan, vice president for Human Resources, Unilever Philippines.

“While there have been personal benefits of flexibility and reduced travel, many of us have also been plagued with distractions, struggles to delineate work from personal time, and feeling disconnected from our peers and teams. It’s time to pivot together to hybrid to get the best of both worlds.” – Rappler.com

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Unilever is a global company selling fast-moving consumer goods. Unilever's purpose is to make sustainable living commonplace.