Strategic Human Resource Management on Unilever


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Strategic Human resource management is considered as one of important aspect of an organisation which either build or destroy brand name in all over the world. In this regard, HR manager of a company plays various roles and responsibilities in order to enhance performance of a business. It includes hiring best employees, formulating strategies, analysing and measuring the performance of each employees and so on. Therefore, a report is going to understand the concept of SHRM. For this purpose, Unilever is taken, which deals in retail market of UK and sells consumer goods. This company looks forward to increase its capacity by getting retention of workers for longer period. Assignment will enclose the relationship between strategies of business and HRM, with a current evaluation on theoretical basis and models of SHRM. Furthermore, a critical discussion on nature and theoretical perceptive of employee relations is also examined.


Relationship Between Business Strategy and the Human Resource Strategy

Strategic HRM refers to the effective practises which are helpful in developing positive relationship between employer and employee. It includes various strategies retaining employees, rewarding and appraising them which influence their working capability. As a result it generates excessive profitability of an organisation.

Business strategy refers to the working plan of organisation which is successful in attaining targetted goals and objectives of company. In relation to Unilever, the company offers consumers good in its store as it provides food and beverage, personal care items and different type of cleaning agents. Top management of Unilever opts various kinds of business strategies that helps in competing and executed all of predetermined plans according to budget.

Human resource strategy refers to the responsibility of HR department in order to meet goals and objectives of the organisation. This strategy is also helpful in reducing conflicts within company as maximum number of workforce is satisfied with its usage.

It can be said that business strategy, as well as human resource strategy, are aligned various ways. The main motive of both strategies is to the maximise profit of the company. In relation to Unilever, both of its strategies are inter related as major role of business strategy is to set their future goals and objectives whereas human resource strategy helps to execute overall strategy of business by managing manpower of Unilever in same direction so that targeted goals can be achieved. HR strategy also motivates, retains and avail rewards to whole manpower as main work is only done by employees only.

Vertical alignment refers to integration of various strategies, action plans, decisions, objectives at different level of organisation. In relation to Unilever, it is important for HR manager to formulate various kind of policies for employees according to their different levels and designation. Vertical alignment also influences decision making of HR manager as the person have to take all kind of decision by following same vertical structure. In this mainly HR manager of Unilever focuses on formulating effective strategy which is successful in covering mission, vision and values of company. For this, Human resource department of Unilever analysis external environment properly as it helps in understanding major threats which might growth of organisation. Whereas, horizontal integration is considered as the acquisition of other organisation who works at same level in value chain. In relation to the HR department of Unilever, team member of this department evaluates the strategies which are opted by other companies that deals in similar kind of industry with somewhat equal type of manpower. Vertical integration is helpful in enhancing economic scale of company as with addition of value chain companies networking as well as profitability of company increases. Unilever is already one among the top of organisation in the world. This company can also expand its business further by dealing with both vertical alignment and horizontal integration.

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Strategic Perspectives of Best Fit/ Contingency

Strategic Fit:

Strategic HRM is referred to integration of human resource with strategic content of firm. For this, HR policies are aligned with business tactics through which goals and objectives are accomplished. Staffing, compensation, employee relations, training and development are various activities which are performed by HR of Unilever. This help them to have skilled and competent people for providing products and services to buyers.

  • Universalistic Perspective: Every HRM practice are not same, so it is essential that management uses those practices which are best for organisation functionality. Unilever performance depends on activities that are conducted by human resource to manage workforce. Thus, they require to use best practices through which organisation performance enhances.
  • Contingency Perspective: This is another model which is used by management for making system function in effective manner. For this, they formulate policies congruous in respect to other aspects of firm.
  • Configurational Perspective: It is a model which define benefits of practices of HR have on performance of an organisation. Relation between pattern of independent variable with dependent one on system functionality is acknowledged by management of Unilever. Henceforth, pattern of HR practices help firm in improvement in working of human resource.

The best-fit approach: This tactic has connection with contingency model which focuses on framing of strategies in according to market conditions and situations of firm. It is a vertical integration by which policies are aligned with business of Unilever. Life- cycle, strategic configuration and competitive strategy are three models which are part of this approach are stated below:

  • Life- Cycle Model: This concept define that evolution of an organisation conducts into four phases which are start- up, growth, maturity and decline. In this, HR responsibility is to frame policies and program through which there is growth in Unilever.
  • Competitive Strategies: Management require to design system and strategies through which firm are positioned superior than rival firms. For this, innovation and modification in technology are done in Unilever. This help firm in delivery of quality products and services to customers for creation of good brand image. Besides this, production process are conducted efficiently for reduction of expenses. Thus, Unilever become cost leadership in respect to their competitors.
  • Strategic Configuration: This is another concept of best fit through which organisation function effectively. For this, human resource of Unilever interconnect strategies with management theories. Thus, adopt policy of strategic configuration which help them in enhancing system functionality.

Critical Evaluation on Models of SHRM

Formulation of business strategy is assumed to be logical, whose outcome might be a formal written statement. It provides a guidelines to the intention of organisation. According to view point of...,it has criticized that best-practice model is viewed by pointing out inconsistency resource-based view and a belief in best-practice. So, this model of SHRM practices allows Unilever to do better than competitors. In this regard, universalism of best-practice is squared with view that there are only some resources are valuable and important for a company. It includes workforce, whose cooperation and support help in achieving success. Similarly, contingency theory relates with importance of interaction between organisation and its business environment.

As per opinion of …, best-fit model is considered as more realistic that best-practice model. But, before adopting this model, managers of Unilever are required to match policies of company with strategies. The negative point of this model is that it tends to be static as well as doesn't take account of process of change. Therefore, to turn this negative impact into positive manner, it is essential for present company to formulate strategies by combining vertical or external fit and horizontal of internal fit.

In order to gain retention of workers and encourage them to give contribution in success of organisational goals, HR managers of Unilever implement various strategies. It includes agile working, where workers are allowed to work from anywhere at anytime. As Unilever consider as largest consumer goods company of the world and serve products in more than 190 countries. Therefore, its major operations are conducted through online process. In this regard, its managers provide timely training to employees for enhance their skills and make them able to complete every demand of customers.Along with this, they also give appraisals to workers on the basis of performance and contribution in business success. For this purpose, they have adopted various approaches of performance management to measure contribution of workers in giving best services to customers. It includes collaborative working, qualitative and comparative approach.

As per perceptions of …, it has analysed that agile working practice of SHRM consider as best technique for empowering employees to work in own manner. Along with this, giving training on regular basis also seems to be good for boosting skills or workers and encourage them to give their best in increasing growth of business rate. Moreover, approaches like collaborative working and qualitative are also beneficial in giving appraisals to employees for recognising their performance. But measuring performance through comparative approach sometimes brings conflicts among workers also. As it arises negativity at the working environment which may impact on performance and productivity of staff members too.

Since in Unilever, performance management reward is planned to get retention of all employees. Therefore, on the basis of contribution, this company give appraisals in both monetary and non-monetary manner. So, it sometimes reduces creativity in working process. Thus, it is recommended to managers of Unilever to adopt attributive approach to measure the performance of employees and design appraisal plan accordingly. Using this kind of approach, aid management in tracking record of workers on the basis of specific skills set. It includes decision-making activity, innovative ideas for making products more attractive, problem-solving skill, learning power and so on. In this regard, managers of this company can give rate of staff members' performance in a graphical manner from 1 to 5. The main beneficial part of this approach is that it helps in identifying skills and knowledge of workers through which roles and responsibilities can be assigned to them in the best manner.

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Nature and Theoretical Perspectives of Employment Relations

Employment relations can be defined as the efforts which have been made by the organisation so that relation among employers and employees can stay healthy. Company with good employee relational based programmes leads employees to stay motivated and loyal with firm and jobs as well.

Nature of employment relations can get differ in every single organisation depending on its perspective and on its operations as well. In the present context, Unilever is doing business in a business environment that is carrying rapid changing nature. Thus, it can be said that it is required for Unilever to keep its focus on relations that both employer and employees while working at workstation. It is required because if any conflicts may get rises in between them, then it may lead Unilever to face a number of problems like performance of whole company may get decrease, goals are not going to be met and many more.

Nature of employment relations can be understood with the help of Marxist theory which is also named aslabour process theory. This hypothesis refers to an old process where a labour (employee) is materialized or objectified in use values. Away with this, under this theory labours is said to be interaction between the person who works and the natural world such that elements of the latter are consciously altered in a purposive manner. If it is talked about Unilever, HR managers have followed this theory only where nature of employment relations have clearly showed the perspective of company is that, the environment which is going to be provided to both employees and employers will be very challenging in nature and this will help them in creating an competitive surroundings as well at the same time. Here, it has been critically analysed that, HR managers of this company were following right approach which helped them in reaching to new heights and hitting their daily targets as well at the same time. But, negative impact which came in front was that competitive environment raised conflicts as well at the same time.

Roles of HR Manager within Employment Relationship

According to......, role of HR manager is not limited to make salaries, policies and strategies in order to improve work performance of employees. Work level and job responsibility of the Human resource department changes according the size and number of employees of organisation. It can be said that HR manager of Unilever has to play various roles in order to develop effective employment relationship. And some of them are described as below:

Celebrating Event: It is responsibility of HR manager to celebrate each festival at workplace as it enhances inter relationship among all the employees. In relation to HR manager of Unilever, it is important for him to celebrate birthday of every employee. This will make them feel good and also develop more respect for organisation. Along with this, these small birthday celebration also creates medium for conversation for employees which helps in building their relationship with colleagues. As a result, it will improve relationship of both the employees as well as employer which directly contributes in the growth of company.

Organising Extra Curricular Activities: Another role of HR manager states that it is essential to organise some extra curricular activities at workplace. This will not the refresh employees but also enhance their skills. It can be said that HR manager of Unilever should organise some extra curricular activities like  outdoor activities, educational and skill development games which will be successful in engaging employee's. Along with this, it will be helpful in increasing inter personal relationship of employees with their team mates. It will reduce ratio conflict level at workplace and also relax employee from their daily routine work.

Employee voice and participation are the main broad terms in an organisation where workers are given freedom to share their views and problems in open environment. According to perceptive of.., it has criticized that participation reflects the collaboration of workers in completing a task. It can also state as activity like decision making, under which participation of employees involve in formulating effective strategies. Therefore, in context with Unilever, to increase retention of workers, practices like agile working, flexibility in working hours, performance recognition etc. shows that there is healthy environment at this organisation. Its managers give chance to every employee to share their opinion in increasing performance of business and growth rate in short period of time. So, it helps in getting retention of employees and involving them in group related activities. But as currently Unilever faces high labour turnover due to dynamic nature of business.

Therefore, it is recommended to this firm that before introducing any new technology in business, managers must formulate effective strategies. In order to win competitive advancement, as it is necessary for every company to create modification in organisational structure. So, it majorly impacts on working process of business. Due to this, employees start to switch from such companies or sometime resist to adopt changes as well. Therefore, Unilever is required to pay attention on this and must develop strategical human resource policy. It includes employee engagement where managers organise some meeting and conference. Under this meeting, they invite participation of employees, stakeholders and investors in meeting to make a discussion about how changes at workplace can be implemented in positive manner. Furthermore, every person in this meeting give opportunity to share view points and innovative ideas or any suggestions for improvement. This would help in engaging employees in developing changes at workplace in own way which reduce chance of resistivity and labour turnover as well.

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It has been summarised from this report that strategic human resource management is a main concept in business. It is adopted to enhance productivity and growth rate of a company adequately and in short period of time. Development in SHRM are generally explored by best-fit, configurational and best-practice approaches. All are these strategies have a profound impact in increasing performance, adding value and enhance competitive advantage of company as well. Furthermore, it has also concluded from this assignment that when HR department of a firm strategically develops its plan for hiring, recruiting, training and compensation as per business goals then it will increase chance of business success. Therefore, it is essential for every organisation to understand the concept of strategic human resource management. It will help in bringing effectiveness and efficiencies in business in appropriate manner.


Books and Journals

  • Crispin, C. C., Vasumathi, A. and Subashini, R., 2016. The role of strategic human resource management (SHRM) impacting employee's performance through perceived organisational support in a manpower agency of international airlines at Chennai International Airport, Tamil Nadu, India-an empirical study. International Journal of Services and Operations Management. 23(2). pp.217-234.
  • Sourchi, S. M. and Liao, J., 2015. The positive impact of high performance work systems (HPWS) on employee commitment and self-sufficiency in strategic human resource management (SHRM) in Kurdistan. European Journal of Business and Management. 7(3). pp.80-109.
  • Saha, N., Chatterjee, B., Gregar, A. and Sáha, P., 2016. The impact of SHRM on sustainable organizational learning and performance development. International Journal of Organizational Leadership. 5(1).
  • Mathew, A., 2016. Career Expectations and Organizational Commitment of Millennials in Indian IT Industry-An SHRM Perspective. The International Journal of Business & Management. 4(1). p.213.
  • Adresi, A. A. and Darun, M.R., 2017. Investigating mediating effect of perceived organizational support between SHRM practices and employee trust. International Journal of Engineering Business Management. 9, p.1847979017701131.
  • Bartram, T., and et. al., 2014. Social identification: linking high performance work systems, psychological empowerment and patient care. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 25(17). pp.2401-2419.
  • Garcia-Carbonell, N., Martin-Alcazar, F. and Sanchez-Gardey, G., 2015. Is double fit a sufficient condition for SHRM success? The missing link between intended and implemented HRM strategy. International Journal of Organizational Analysis. 23(2). pp.264-284.
  • Belhaj, R. and Tkiouat, M., 2015. Including Client Opinion and Employee Engagement in the Strategic Human Resource Management: An Advanced SWOT-FUZZY Decision Making Tool. International Journal of Human Capital and Information Technology Professionals (IJHCITP). 6(3). pp.20-33.
  • Meyers, M. C. and Van Woerkom, M., 2014. The influence of underlying philosophies on talent management: Theory, implications for practice, and research agenda. Journal of World Business. 49(2). pp.192-203.
  • Trehan, S. and Setia, K., 2014. Human resource management practices and organizational performance: an Indian perspective. Global Journal of Finance and Management. 6(8). pp.789-796.
  • Awan, A. G. and Sarwar, G.H., 2014. Integrated role of hris and shrm (shris) in banking sector of Pakistan. Global Journal of Human Resource Management. 3(1). pp.45-61.
  • Erkul, M., Kaynak, H. and Montiel, I., 2015. Supplier relations and sustainable operations: the roles of codes of conduct and human resource development. International Journal of Integrated Supply Management. 9(3). pp.225-249.
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