Future of work Taking a stand

The future of work isn’t just about data, robots and algorithms – it’s really about people. And we can only clearly envision the future of work through imagining a world where humans are thriving.

Average read time: 3 minutes

Two ladies in PPE and Unilever uniform with their arms around eachother smiling

A healthy future of work depends on people thriving

There’s no question that today’s economic outlook is gloomy – global growth is falling, recessions are looming, and rising inequality is affecting some groups more than others, such as girls and women. Covid-19 has created hardships for many – reshaping the employment landscape for young and old alike and accelerating the integration of technology into all types of roles and industries.

But in all of this, we see potential. A chance to do things differently. An opportunity to reshape how we work to build a better business and a better world. You might say we’re overly optimistic – but we’re positive and we’re determined, and only time will show the difference Unilever can make.

We believe every person has the right to a productive life. The right not just to work, but to take part in society in a way that feels meaningful to them. And every business has a moral and economic responsibility to help protect people’s livelihoods, even if they can’t protect the jobs they do.

For business to thrive, society has to be thriving: from employees to consumers to suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders. This is an economic imperative as well as a moral one. We know that the dual impact of technology and the pandemic recession is increasing inequality – with jobs held by younger workers, women and lower wage earners most affected by the initial economic contraction in 2020. And without action now to tackle inequality, McKinsey estimates that global GDP growth could be $1 trillion lower in 2030. So now is the time to reset jobs by re-imagining the working landscape.

This means imagining not just what the world of work might look like in 10 and 20 years, but what we want it to look like. And what it will look like if humans are thriving. This means involving people from all areas of Unilever – employees and their representatives – as part of our solutions from the outset, not seeing them as a problem to be solved.

Our people are at the heart of our business. So we’re putting them at the centre of our focus on the future of work. We’re making sure they understand their own personal purpose – and giving them a sense of belonging and the support they need to feel happy and healthy. As the landscape of work changes, we’re equipping each person to adapt and grow – and ultimately thrive – whether this means pursuing a new career or different way of working or retraining. And by doing all of this, we’re helping everyone keep pace with change and continue to work with purpose.

We believe that our people are much more than their job title. If our people thrive, we thrive as a business.

Jeroen Wels, Executive VP HR