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Executive Summary

This report shows that Unilever has many employee motivation and involvement issues during COVID-19 due to lockdown situations and restrictions. Unilever has problems communicating with the employees; therefore problems arose more. Some theories and models such as Hertzberg’s two factor theories and Job characteristic model can be applied to solve this type of employment problem. This theory and model can assist Unilever companies to motivate employees as well as to understand their problems. Recommendations are enlisted for occupational safety and security by which COVID 19 situation can be controlled in a greater order.

1. Introduction

Unilever is one of the largest multinational grocery and goods retailers of UK with a suitable net revenues and proper employee motivation scheme. COVID-19 has impacted negatively on Unilever and decrease in net revenue of this popular company ensures negativity in employee operation. In addition, the sales of Unilever have decreased by 3% in middle of 2020 than 2019 and it is a great loss for the company. As a result, it also affected the employees’ motivation and engagement in a brutal way. It is reported that approximately 65% of the employee is reduced in the first year of attrition and COVID-19 is responsible for this. The aim of the study is to analyze the challenges faced by Unilever during COVID-19 pandemic and managerial approaches to motivate employees.

2. Literature review

2.1 The issues and challenges faced by Unilever

The company Unilever is very adversely affected by COVID-19 pandemic. This company manages their workforce from home and Company faces huge losses due to this situation. According to the view of Baker et al. (2020), it is not easy to manage its employees from home and some employees felt anxious and unmotivated as well as, the HR manager of Unilever cannot communicate with the employees perfectly. Therefore many issues about the employees are faced by this organization, Unilever.

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Figure 1: Challenges

(Source:, 2020)

  • Improper communication:

All employees of Unilever are working from their home and this lockdown situation in 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic. As per opinion by Biswas et al. (2020), it is very problematic to communicate with all employees for Unilever. Companies can communicate with the employee through Weekly team meetings, daily teleconferences, in new normal days; however, in lockdown situations all of these methods are stopped. Moreover, the upper management team does not get important news of the employees that creates many problems about employee management. It is a critical challenge for Unilever during COVID-19 pandemic (Hoek, 2020).

  • Lack of transparency:

Unilever faced huge losses in their revenues during the lockdown period due to COVID-19 pandemic situation and the economy of Unilever fell down rapidly. As a result, employees of the company feel uncertainty about their employment as well as they lose their faith in the company. As per suggested by Chiedu et al. (2017), employees do not communicate face to face to the higher authority as well as they cannot clear their problem.  It is very decisive for the company to gain employee’s faith in future.

  • Lack of connection:

All employees of the company are quite troubled due to their work from home facility and they faced many technical issues. As all employees working from home, all work is done through the help of technology; however, all employees do not know about the use of technology very well. As a result, they could not work properly and the company faced many problems.  As opinion by Cooper, (2020), furthermore, all employees do not have a strong network connection; as a result companies faced many problems with their productivity.  It is a very major issue faced by the company as well as the net revenues of this company; Unilever is decreasing rapidly due to this situation.

  • Issues about employee’s safety:

After the reopening of Unilever, all employees do not want to join the company due to COVID-19 transmission and they feel worried about working in the company.  As a result, the production of the company has decreased as well as the profit has also decreased. This is a key issue for Unilever (Heikal Ismail et al.  2020).

2.2 Analysis

COVID-19 has a negative impact on business organizations around the world. Unilever is a sufferer of COVID -19 pandemic. Demand pattern of the people has changed due to COVID-19 pandemic. As per opinion by Hoek, (2020), the demand of the hygiene product has increased due to the transmission crisis and the ice-cream business and other food product business fell down very effectively. The business pattern and sales pattern has changed as well as, the gross revenue of Unilever has decreased. As a result the company does not provide salary and incentives that affect the employee and many employees quit this job (Hoek, 2020).

Technology is a very important part in COVID-19 pandemic and problems related to this have faced by Unilever employees. All employees are working from home and there is very problematic to install technology and to make them aware about the technology. Company faced huge losses; therefore, the money problem is one of the most important reasons for installing all technology.  As a result communication issues occurred.

 As per suggested by Cooper, (2020), physical distancing and lockdown during pandemic situations is another reason for not maintaining employment. Many employees do not work together and production level is also decreased. As a result, the company does not provide any incentives and that lowers the employee’s motivation.

Unilever expands its business all over the world; however, due to lockdown the business pattern is changed and all peoples are shifted to online shopping. Therefore, the sales of the company are affected. As opinion by Mather (2020), the business in China has totally stopped. The employees of china also quit this job and the production level of the company Unilever has decreased. As a result many rumours have been spread with the employees that are one of the main reasons for employee management issues.

Unilever’s product market declined 1.9% and their retailer sales also decreased during lockdown. Unilever’s product fell down rapidly that also affected employee management and employee motivation in a greater order. Sometimes, employees do not share their problems such as their necessity etc and the company does not understand their problem; therefore, that creates some issues regarding employment (Raj et al. 2018).

2.3 Theory and models

Hertzberg’s two factor theory

Hertzberg’s two factor theory is a motivational theory that helps to motivate all employees in the organizations as well as to develop work performance of the employees. It also prevents the dissatisfaction of the employees and also improves job security. According to Riley et al. (2020), Hertzberg’s two factor theories includes some factors such as company policy, supervision, employee’s relationship with the manager, work conditions. This entire factor is improved by this theory. The company Unilever needs to apply this theory that helps to overcome the issues of employee motivation and involvement as well as motivates all employees to work perfectly by applying this theory.

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Figure 2: Hertzberg’s two factor theory

(Source: van der Ploeg, 2020)

This two factor theory has some types of possible combinations. These are as follows:

  • The high hygiene and high motivation combination can assist company Unilever to motivate the employees of the company to work better. During COVID-19, that helps to maintain hygiene as well as improve employee’s engagement (Raj et al. 2018).
  • The high hygiene and low motivation combination assist higher authority of the company to hear employee’s feedback and complaints that helps to find the problem very easily.
  • The low hygiene and high motivation combination can help to find salary problems and work problems (van der Ploeg, 2020).

The company should need to follow this theory that can help to overcome any problem regarding employee motivation and employee involvement.

Job characteristics model

The job characteristic model is a theory based on employee motivation that can help to give positivity to the employees. As per opinion by Mather,( 2020),  Unilever should apply this theory that can help to motivate employees as well as improve employee involvement. This model includes five characteristics such as skill variety, task identity, task significance, autonomy and feedback.

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Figure 3: Job characteristics theory

(Source: Rowan et al. 2020)

  • Skill variety is required to develop employee’s skills and talent that helps to motivate employees to work better during pandemic situations and it also helps to learn all employees about the use of technology in Unilever (Robinson et al. 2020).
  • Task identity can assist Unilever companies to understand work experience of the employees as well as it can help to manage employee involvement.
  • Task significance can assist Unilever companies to describe the job; therefore, employees understand the job very easily (Rowan et al. 2020).
  • Autonomy gives the freedom to the employees that also motivate the employees of Unilever.
  • Feedback processes help Unilever to motivate the employee by giving feedback. Therefore, when employees get feedback about their work performance, they feel motivated (Robinson et al. 2020).

2.4 COVID 19 support measures by Unilever

Managers of Unilever work effectively for developing their brand value and in order to motivate employees for better job engagement. Managerial position of this organisation is strong and about 100 million euro is spent for workers to buy daily essentials (van der Ploeg, 2020). However, there is a problem as lower level employees are not allowed under this scheme and mismanagement occurs due to this. According to the view of Rowan et al. (2020), 500 million cash spend in the case of this company and it is effective for only small-scale business retailers. As a result, employees engaged in hypermarket become dissatisfied by this organisational set up and business efficiency decreases potentially. Along with this, short term pay drops is another reason for employee dissatisfaction as office-based employees get more facilities than the workers doing work from home. Therefore, further recommendations are needed to manage workers for this organisation by setting a proper scheme for employees in COVID 19 situation.

3. Conclusion 

From the research, it can be concluded that the Unilever organization faced many issues about employee motivation and employee involvement during COVID-19 pandemic. As Unilever has a huge market in the UK, they were affected adversely by COVID-19 pandemics as well as their productivity fell down due to employment issues. Many employees are not aware about the use of technology and the HR of Unilever could not communicate with the employees very well. Apart from that, some other companies did not want to join the company after COVID due to transmission issues. As a result the company faced many problems regarding them. The study shows some theory and models such as Hertzberg’s two factor theory and the job characteristic model that helps to motivate employees as well as to solve the employee related problem. The idea and some recommendation is provided that helps to overcome the problem as soon as possible.

4. Recommendation 

Based on the study, some recommendation is to be given to Unilever that helps to manage the employee motivation and employee involvement problem as much as possible. The recommendations are as follows:

  • It can be recommended that though all employees are working from home, increasing their working hours as well as expanding deadlines helps to motivate the employee very much. Apart from that, it also reduces the stress of the employees and employees get energy to work perfectly. As per view of Raj et al. (2018), Unilever should install broadband connections in their employee’s house that helps to communicate better with the employees. Moreover, listening to all employees’ problems by the HR of Unilever helps to motivate the employees as well as all problems regarding communication is solved by this remedy.
  • It can be suggested that telling and showing the company’s ups and down, struggle to the employee helps to understand the company’s state that increases faith as well as confidence of the employees to work at Unilever. It also motivates the employees as well as the company to overcome this problem (Rowanet al. 2020).
  • It can be advised that this company Unilever boost all employees by wishing their birthday and anniversary virtually as well as by sending them lunches. Incentive procedure and opportunity for the employees motivates them to work perfectly (Cooper, 2020).
  • It can be suggested to Unilever that proper sanitization at company motivates employees to return at company as well as it prevents employee’s anxiety about COVID-19 transmission. The company needs to follow some precautions such as wearing masks in duty hours and using sanitizers that help employees to keep safe and it also helps to overcome problems (van der Ploeg, 2020).
  • It can be recommended that giving facilities to new employees to share their new ideas and suggestions and applying them where applicable helps to motivate the employee to work properly. Companies need to start a feedback policy that is every employee will be given feedback within 60 to 80 days that also encourages employees to work there.
  • References 

Baker, P., White, A. and Morgan, R., 2020. Men’s health: COVID-19 pandemic highlights need for overdue policy action. The Lancet395(10241), pp.1886-1888.

Biswas, T.K. and Das, M.C., 2020. Selection of the barriers of supply chain management in Indian manufacturing sectors due to COVID-19 impacts. Operational Research in Engineering Sciences: Theory and Applications3(3), pp.1-12.

Chiedu, C.K., Long, C.S. and Ashar, H.B., 2017. The Relationship Among Job Satisfaction, Oreganizational Commitiment and Employees’ Turnover at Unilever Corporation in Nigeria. European Journal of Multidisciplinary Studies2(5), pp.370-

Cooper, R., 2020. Water security beyond Covid-19.

Heikal Ismail, M., Ghazi, T.I.M., Hamzah, M.H., Manaf, L.A., Tahir, R.M., Mohd Nasir, A. and Ehsan Omar, A., 2020. Impact of Movement Control Order (MCO) due to Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) on Food Waste Generation: A Case Study in Klang Valley, Malaysia. Sustainability12(21), p.8848.

Hoek, R.V., 2020. Responding to COVID-19 supply chain risks—insights from supply chain change management, total cost of ownership and supplier segmentation theory. Logistics4(4), p.23.

Mather, P., 2020. Leadership and governance in a crisis: some reflections on COVID-19. Journal of Accounting & Organizational Change.

Raj, K. and Aithal, P.S., 2018. A ‘Desi’Multinational–A Case Study of Hindustan Unilever Limited. International Journal of Case Studies in Business, IT and Education (IJCSBE)2(1), pp.1-12.

Riley, A.H., Sangalang, A., Critchlow, E., Brown, N., Mitra, R. and Campos Nesme, B., 2020. Entertainment-Education Campaigns and COVID-19: How Three Global Organizations Adapted the Health Communication Strategy for Pandemic Response and Takeaways for the Future. Health communication, pp.1-8.

Robinson, E., Gillespie, S. and Jones, A., 2020. Weight‐related lifestyle behaviours and the COVID‐19 crisis: An online survey study of UK adults during social lockdown. Obesity Science & Practice.

Rowan, N.J. and Galanakis, C.M., 2020. Unlocking challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 pandemic for cross-cutting disruption in agri-food and green deal innovations: Quo Vadis?. Science of the Total Environment, p.141362.

Rowan, N.J. and Galanakis, C.M., 2020. Unlocking challenges and opportunities presented by COVID-19 pandemic for cross-cutting disruption in agri-food and green deal innovations: Quo Vadis?. Science of the Total Environment, p.141362.

van der Ploeg, J.D., 2020. From biomedical to politico-economic crisis: the food system in times of Covid-19. The Journal of Peasant Studies47(5), pp.944-972.

Website, 2020. About, Available at: [Accessed on: 4.12.2020]

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