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Unilever are piloting a new initiative called U-Work in which employees are treated like empowered, free agents, released from fixed employment roles and job titles. The program allows employees to have the autonomy and freedom to choose the projects they work on, helping them strike that elusive balance between their professional and personal lives.
With U-Work, employees enjoy some of the security, pay, and benefits of permanent roles, along with some of the freedom and flexibility associated with contract jobs.
What we love about Unilever:
💡 Unilever offer hybrid working arrangements to promote an inclusive and flexible work environment.
💡 Allows those who want to reduce their working hours as they get older or who want to travel and study, without sacrificing their jobs.
Articles about Unilever:
U-Work gives employees the freedom and flexibility associated with contract roles with the security and benefits typically linked to permanent roles.
People in U-Work don’t have a fixed role. They work on varying assignments, and between assignments are free to do other things that are important to them. They get a monthly retainer and specially designed suite of benefits whether they’re working on an assignment or not. They can design work patterns that suit them – anything from a few days a week for a few months, to short, concentrated bursts of full-time with breaks in-between. And they get paid for each assignment when they’re working.
This more flexible way of working brings many benefits. It helps people who want to reduce their working hours as they get older. It allows working parents to manage their time more effectively. And it allows people to travel or study without sacrificing their jobs.
U-Work benefits Unilever too. Managers have access to skilled people who are familiar with Unilever and can hit the ground running, avoiding the hidden costs of finding freelance workers and getting them up to speed.
We piloted U-Work in the UK and it’s now live in seven countries including Malaysia, Argentina and South Africa, with more planned for 2022.
Working patterns are shifting; roles are disappearing and reshaping; new skills and ways of working are emerging. Through Future-Fit planning, our people are thinking through what they want their working life to look like in the future, and what skills they need to be able to move in the right direction. Sometimes this means taking things in a completely new direction.
If we see a need to pursue this direction as a business, U-Renew gives people the space and financial support to develop their knowledge and skills and apply their learning in the real world. Much like a paid learning sabbatical, we give people funding, time out to study, work experience opportunities and the security of a role. Employees may contribute to skills funding and give up some of their reward package while they transform themselves to move in a new direction. It’s a mutual investment and a shared risk for a better future.
We developed the model in 2021 and plan to pilot it in the UK in 2022.
Hybrid working arrangements
Even though Covid-19 fast-forwarded the shift to more flexible and remote working, at Unilever we were already examining how to move to more balanced ways of working. We’ve learned from the pandemic-induced changes to how we work to shape new and better arrangements for our people.
We believe that when done right, hybrid working creates an inclusive, flexible environment where people can perform at their best and teams can collaborate, connect, create and celebrate successes together. In 2021, we introduced a set of global principles to guide how we can make best use of our office spaces while giving our people flexibility and choice, which include spending at least 40% of our time in the office to collaborate and connect with each other.
We see a future where we focus primarily on what people produce, not on where or when they work. So we’re designing working options that will help people balance work and home life without completely losing the value that face-to-face contact brings