Building a sustainable future: How Unilever built a community-driven talent strategy
With responsibility for more than 400 brands in 190 countries, Unilever is one of the world’s largest and most prolific FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) brand-owners. It serves its global audience, making nutrition, wellbeing, health and hygiene products available to all, with a specific aim to help more than one billion people to improve their health and wellbeing. This is just one of the goals featured within Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan, which also outlines further aims: To reduce the environmental footprint of its products and source 100 per cent of its agricultural raw materials sustainably.
For Raquel Suarez, Head of Unilever’s Global Employer Brand, that vision and sustainable message extends to its LinkedIn followers, a figure that currently stands at more than 12 million. This figure has garnered the brand giant a top ten position on LinkedIn. Yet, popularity is irrelevant when relevancy and responsibility play a larger role.
Unilever’s strategy, led by Raquel, has been to build a community of like-minded people that value progress and sustainability. As a result, Unilever now has access to a diverse and talented pool of individuals that have the skills that will serve and sustain the business’ future.
Building the sense of community
Unilever wished to build a global community of engaged LinkedIn followers. Therefore, it was paramount that the business understood how its community wished to engage and what content they would find insightful. What content would work? How could executives and employees foster trust in the brand? And how could Unilever build a positive reputation, with sustainability and authenticity at its heart?
From followers to future talent
Unilever leveraged LinkedIn Talent Solutions and invested in its Employer Brand strategy, which included a budget to specifically grow LinkedIn followers. A 16 per cent investment increase increased brand awareness by 25 per cent in one year. However, how could Unilever maintain such growth?
A mix of content, live dialogue and active engagement ensued. For example, at one Future Leaders event, keynote speeches from Alan Jope, Unilever CEO, and Leena Nair, Unilever CHRO, attracted more than 85,000 viewers. Sharing their experiences, knowledge and values fostered trust and promoted positivity. This helped Unilever to be awarded the coveted status of Preferred Employer at universities and the number one employer of choice in more than 52 countries.
Unilever sees its followers as future talent – this recognition has been instrumental in building an engaged community. In fact, since 2015, Unilever has hired more than 30,000 people from its follower community.
But that’s not all. Streamlining data from the various components of LinkedIn Talent Solutions ensures Unilever is able to measure the success of its employer brand across hiring, future pipelining and engagement of key audiences.
This data helps Raquel to constantly assess what the future holds for the business, which enables her to create targeted content that is transparent and truthful. Why is this of value? Because future candidate strength is only as strong as the community from which it emerges, and the values instilled within it.
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In two years, Unilever’s employer brand initiative and employee value proposition strategy has accelerated LinkedIn follower growth, taking the 2018 total from fewer than three million to more than 12 million in 2020.
The audiences that engage with Unilever’s monthly campaigns are recognised as being reflective of future hiring needs. Engaging talent in priority countries has led to follower growth in relevant high value audiences. In fact, 89 per cent of members reached through Talent Media were new to Unilever.
Thanks to Unilever’s proactive media strategy, it reduced time to hire by two months and created a saving of €14.76 million in costs associated with unfilled roles. Also of interest, is the fact that candidates hired through LinkedIn started engaging with the brand on 9.9 (on average) months prior to joining.
“Employer branding is about building a reputation with authenticity. When you do that, you’ll attract people who want to work with you; people with purpose.”
Unilever’s portfolio ranges from nutritionally balanced foods to indulgent ice creams, affordable soaps, luxurious shampoos and everyday household care products. It produces world-leading brands, including Lipton, Knorr, Dove, Axe, Hellmann’s and Omo, alongside trusted local names and innovative-forward thinking brands like Ben & Jerry’s, The Dollar Shave Club and Dermalogica.
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