Unilever to cut 1,500 management roles amid restructuring

New chief people officer will lead company through transition

Unilever to cut 1,500 management roles amid restructuring

Around 1,500 jobs under the consumer goods giant Unilever will be lost as the company undergoes major restructuring of its operations. The company revealed that 15% of senior management roles and five percent of junior management roles will be cut off. This comes as the company said it will be reorganising to five distinct business groups, namely: Beauty & Wellbeing, Personal Care, Home Care, Nutrition, and Ice Cream.

"Changes will be subject to consultation. We do not expect factory teams to be impacted by these changes," Unilever said. "Moving to five category-focused Business Groups will enable us to be more responsive to consumer and channel trends, with crystal-clear accountability for delivery. Growth remains our top priority and these changes will underpin our pursuit of this.”

The restructure also saw the appointment of new leaders who will be leading the five Business Groups separately. Fernando Fernandez, EVP Latin America, has been appointed the president of Beauty & Wellbeing; Fabian Garcia, President North America, has been named as the president of Personal Care; while Matt Close, EVP Ice Cream, has been promoted as president of Ice Cream. Hanneke Faber will lead the Nutrition business group, while Peter ter Kulve will continue his role as president of Home Care.

Chief Operating Officer Nitin Paranjpe will also take on a new role as the chief transformation officer and chief people officer, leading the HR function of the company and its business transformation. Chief Supply Chain Officer Reginaldo Ecclissato, meanwhile, has been named chief business operations officer.

Read more: Restructuring and redundancies

How should HR handle layoffs and restructuring?

Paranjpe, as the new leader of Unilever's HR department, will be helping everyone adjust to the new set-up.

Randstad previously said that HR's approach over the matter will "greatly impact" the organisation's reputation, and provided four tips to handle them properly:

  1. Prepare for the reactions you may receive. Plan answers to possible questions ahead of time to ensure clear and consistent responses.
  2. Take advice. Sought the advice of people who have been in that spot before to ensure that the message is delivered through tried techniques.
  3. Have an outplacement consultant or business coach onsite. Having consultants on site can help prevent redundancy and even offer career transition advice to employees.
  4. Provide ongoing support. This means providing laid off employees support to ensure that they are processing the news in a healthy way.

Once this is done, HR should move forward and start leaning into the feeling of excitement over new beginnings instead of grieving the losses.

"The broad principle is to be more excited about where you are going than apologetic about where you have been," said Michel McQueen, author of The ‘New’ Rules of Engagement. "There is a time and place to acknowledge this, but get to the point where the grieving period is over and acknowledge you are leaving behind the past and moving forward."

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