Project to polish workers’ skills boosts productivity at Unilever

Consumer goods multinational Unilever saved 100,000 and boosted productivity by 3% at one of its manufacturing sites last year by rolling out a change management programme.

The savings have come at a time when the company is under shareholder pressure. Lagging sales growth has led to calls for its household products business to be split up.

The HR and training departments at the company’s Northwest Liquids facility, in Port Sunlight, Wirral – which is part of the household group that manufactures products such as Comfort and Persil – ran a two-year programme to improve workers’ personal and work-related skills, increasing their confidence and boosting morale.

The programme involved a catalogue of 250 training courses, and included talks from motivational speakers such as athlete Daley Thompson and cricketer Sir Garfield Sobers.

Damian Hughes, HR manager at the Port Sunlight site, believes it could have a wider impact.

“It could be applied to any organisation,” he told Personnel Today.

But despite the change programme’s success, senior managers at Unilever have so far chosen not to roll it out across the rest of the business, Hughes admitted.

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