Unilever fights “liberating” battle against bureaucracy

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42% of senior executives in Western Europe feel that HR is overly consumed by paperwork and administrative processes, according to a recent Economist survey. Being well aware of this problem, Unilever decided to combat bureaucracy by streamlining various business practices in an initiative known as “Project Half.”

As part of Project Half’s cost-saving design, individuals and the teams they comprise are encouraged to eliminate half of all their documents and clutter.

Also, from an organization-wide standpoint, Unilever stimulates a more efficient innovation cycle by quickening go-to-market launches and cutting out extraneous side projects in favor of worthwhile endeavors. These undertakings have allowed the company to increase productivity while lowering headcount and reducing staff turnover by 5.5% in the first half of 2014.

“It’s quite liberating – even the name Project Half gives people the right idea. It provides a pragmatic mindset,” said Danielle Van Den Broek, vice president human resources.

In another endeavor to boost engagement, Unilever hopes to launch a pilot program in conjunction with The Energy Project – an organization that trains companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft how to maintain high levels of employee performance by encouraging healthy energy management practices.

“How can you tap into your own resources for energy and how can you balance your own energy levels in all facets of your life?  This is something we’ll be piloting, and if successful, it might be scaled up,” said Van Den Broek.

This article was adapted from Global perspective, local expertise. To read more, click here.

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