Challenges of Global Human Resource Management
Human resource departments are transforming as many global organizations continue to grow their operations, and face numerous and complex problems. The transformation of human resource management is associated with numerous rapid changes that businesses encounter in their operations. These changes may be a result of various factors such as globalization. Nevertheless, global competition in the new connected world has become a challenge to many organizations’ decision-making processes. An organization’s talent can act as a source of competitive advantage in the global market and affect organizational outcomes, such as customer satisfaction and employee performance. This paper explores the challenges affecting Unilever Brazil’s human resource management function while the company operates in the global market. These challenges include facing competition in recruiting and retaining talented employees, investing in the training and development of lower-level employees, ineffective implementation of leadership development programs, keeping up with changing employment laws and regulations, and coping with management changes.
Figure 1. Flowchart Showing UniliverBrazil’s Issues
Unilever Brazil is a branch operation of the Unilever Global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) business located in Brazil. It is the second-largest operation organization of the Unilever Global FMCG business across the world, and the best performing Unilever entity in developing and emerging countries. Unilever Brazil underwent a series of consolidations between 2001 and 2007. From the workers’ talent management perspective, Unilever Brazil faced stiff competition from new businesses across Brazil in recruiting and retaining talented workers (Agarwal and Al Qouyatahi 90). Unilever Brazil was considered as the most admired and desired places to work across the country. In 2003, the company was deemed to be a place for graduate students to start their careers as the organization integrated human resource development and training programs in its operations. As such, the trainee program attracted several applications from the young talent who desired to develop their careers within the company. For example, as per the case study, the number of trainee program applications are stated to have doubled up between 2001 and 2007 (Mallick and Williams 274). Nevertheless, over the last five years, the Brazilian market has become one of the most competitive markets for FMCGs across the world. As such, new competitors have entered the Brazilian market hence bringing stiff competition to Unilever Brazil company in recruitment and retention of talented workers. In this competitive environment, the new competitors are looking to attract young talent and experienced workers by targeting companies such as Unilever Brazil. By 2009, the country had become a battleground for the recruitment of young talent, and Unilever Brazil lost its competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining young talent.
Despite the strategies and structure that Unilever Brazil had put in place to develop the young talent, the company’s HRM function faced management changes issues. As the enterprise continued to grow, its strategies, structure, and internal processes grew with it (Agarwal and Al Qouyatahi 95). Consequently, as per the case study, the company’s operations slowed down in late 2007 when Kees Kruythoff was appointed as the organization’s chief executive officer. In later management, the company focused on recruiting and developing young talent. However, Kees emphasized reigniting the growth of the company rather than focusing on young talent training and development programs. He believed that expanding the company’s operations both in the local and international markets would certainly help Unilever Brazil to improve outcomes, such as survival, consumer satisfaction, and profitability (Mallick and Williams275). Kees also briefly stated that expanding the organization’s operations into other markets would, in the long run, help to unleash the potential talent that had gone to waste in the FMCGs markets. However, Kees’ transformation concept posed a threat to the organization’s HRM function. The previous management mainly focused on developing the young talent, while Kees’ management aimed at unleashing the potential talent of people who had lost their way in the business. As such, the young talent that had been recruited felt that Kees’ transformation concept would hinder them from developing their careers. As a result, the young talent lost the morale to work within the company and was later recruited by other competitive companies that were attracted to the young, experienced Unilever’s Brazil workers.
In sum, Unilever Brazil encountered several HRM global related challenges during its transformation era between 2001 and 2007. The challenges were due to various factors, such as globalization. These problems encountered by the organization included stiff competition in attracting young talent and a difficult time to cope with management changes, among others. The challenges are listed in Figure 1 in that order since the first influenced the second, and so on during the transformation era of the company. I have learned from the Unilever Brazil case study that one challenge influenced the other. For instance, the company’s previous management pinpointed toward developing the young talent for the future success of the company. The organization faced stiff competition from many new multinational companies that had entered the Brazilian market in attracting young talent. The mentioned issue led to management changes; hence the company’s workers found it hard to cope with the new strategies that were put in place by the new CEO, Kees Kruythoff, wh0 emphasized reigniting the company’s growth rather than developing the young talent.
Agarwal, Sugandha, and Khalid Mohammed Saif Al Qouyatahi. “HRM Challenges in the Age of Globalisation.” International Research Journal of Business Studies vol.10, no.2, 2018, pp. 89-98, http://www.irjbs.com/index.php/jurnalirjbs/article/view/1295
Mallick, Rob, and Marcelo Williams. “Unilever Brazil: A Story of Organisational And Personal Renewal.” Talent Management in Emerging Markets, Randburg, South Africa: KR Publishing, 2013, pp. 273–297.