How Hindustan Unilever devised a programme to make its employees future ready

The initiative allows employees across levels to work with other organisations; to assist the MD on critical projects; work with government organisations, and even take up international stints.

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Consumer goods company, Hindustan Unilever (HUL), has come up with a new initiative wherein its employees get an opportunity to work with other organisations, including startups, and learn to deal with business problems encountered across industries. The initiative also renders the employees a chance to work with Sanjiv Mehta, MD, Unilever, on certain critical projects; experience working in government organisations and even be exposed to international assignments.

These immersive experiences with other organisations are also aimed at exposing the employees to new-age technologies and work culture, so as to make them future-ready.

The Company wishes for its people to gain new insights, experiment and experience situations that are different from what they are used to. The initiative also gives HUL’s senior executives an opportunity to experience the corporate world outside HUL, while still employed with HUL. The new experiences at customer-oriented and digital companies, will stand them in good stead in the future.

The initiative is not restricted to the managers alone, but involves employees across levels and functions in the Company. The response from the workforce to this initiative — which has been developed over the last one and a half years — has been very positive and encouraging. Freshers appear to be the most keen to participate.

Presently, about 80 such experiments are already on, involving different teams under which HUL employees have received the opportunity to work with GreyOrange (a robotics company), Milkbasket (a grocery delivery firm), as well as Google, Facebook, Amazon, the Taj Group of Hotels and mobile marketing company, InMobi. HUL executives have also spent a significant amount of time at the Quality Council of India (QCI) and other government organisations.

The initiative has allowed HUL talent to be exposed to the effective use of artificial intelligence, consumer data, and so on. The international stints — to countries, such as Singapore, Brazil, and the US among others— as well as internationalisation have helped employees gain short-term exposure to a wide range of businesses and related challenges.

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