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Forging Ahead With Purpose

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Employee Advocacy with the HUL Purpose Squad

About the company

Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) is India's largest Fast-Moving Consumer Goods company with a heritage of over 80 years in India and is a subsidiary of Unilever, one of the world’s leading suppliers of Food, Home Care, Personal Care and Refreshment products with sales in over 190 countries.

With over 21,000 employees, 35 brands spanning 20 distinct categories such as soaps, detergents, shampoos, skin care, toothpastes, deodorants, cosmetics, tea, coffee, packaged foods, ice cream, and water purifiers, the Company is a part of the everyday life of millions of consumers across India.

A look at employee advocacy

When employees use their own social networks or other information channels to generate positive brand awareness for their company. By sharing company-related content, liking updates, and even creating company-related content of their own, they become online ambassadors of the brand as thought leaders.

The Objective

The primary aim of this project from the outset was to portray HUL as a purposeful, responsible company in the public domain, while also fostering a sense of pride and belonging among employee advocates. With HUL’s numerous innovations, sustainability and community outreach initiatives, the goal is for employee advocacy to take this forward with positive representation from within the organization, ultimately acting as an important business driver.

Employee Advocacy in Numbers :

  • More reach: Messages shared by employees on social media earn 561% more reach that the brand’s social media channels

  • Positive impact on career: 86% of employee advocates in a formal program said that their involvement in social media had a positive impact on their career

  • Advertising Value: Employee advocacy programs with at least 1000 active participants can generate $1.9 million in Advertising Value 

  • Brand recognition: 79% of firms surveyed reported more online visibility after the implementation of a formal employee advocacy program.

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The Execution

Crafting the identity and direction

With a view to brand the employee advocacy initiative and therefore add exclusivity to it, we ideated on a name for the group of employee advocates and/or the program as a whole. Purpose Squad was identified as a simple, relatable and significant name for the group to reflect HUL’s strong sense of responsibility and purpose.

In addition to this, with the larger objective in mind, certain content umbrellas were determined that would allow the advocates to align with the larger objective while posting.

  • Based on the brand’s literature and social media handles, the following broad buckets were arrived on: Sustainable Living & Purpose of Sustainability | Great Place, Great People | Brands and Innovation

  • The platforms identified and consistently used are: LinkedIn | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

Assembling the squad

With the basis and context set in place, attracting buzz and ensuring participation is imperative. For this, we rolled out strategic communications to invite HUL employees to be a part of the advocacy program. Team members were also asked why they wished to be a part of the Purpose Squad to instil greater engagement. As a result of this process, over 350 entries were received out of the 2500 employees in the Mumbai HO.

Instilling the positivity of purpose

To maintain secure social media practices on an individual and company level, as well as to ensure that advocates remain aligned to the larger goal of the advocacy initiative, a thorough orientation was conducted, covering overarching social media guidelines and the nitty-gritty of company media policies and confidentiality clauses. With thorough research into employee advocacy as a whole and an extensive study of the company’s media guidelines, both Indian and global, the comprehensive training module can also be used for future advocates. This was designed for easy consumption and was then presented alongside company leaders, to the entire Purpose Squad via an online video session.

A compilation of all the questions, feedback and suggestions has been used to formulate an informative and simple FAQ document, which has been circulated to all squad members for easy access. For uniformity and tracking purposes, a handy hashtag has been prescribed, which is now active across social media platforms: #HULPurpose

For quick and easy communication, a WhatsApp group was also created, where updates are shared on a regular basis, and queries are answered as and when they come in.

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Stepping into the public eye

In tandem with the client, we have been updating the Purpose Squad on various internal events and roundtable sessions for them to gain knowledge on HUL’s activities. The process:

  • Circulating an invite mailer to the Purpose Squad with information on what is expected in the upcoming session/initiative

  • Attending the session/event for a thorough understanding

  • Collating and sending out a mailer to the squad, with key learnings and important takeaways post the event

  • Crafting content in the form of draft posts for all 4 platforms, to make posting easier for squad members

Employee Advocacy  _ Clean Future Invite

Key initiatives covered

  • Roundtable session on HUL-UNDP plastic management partnership

  • Session to discuss the Unilever global Clean Future innovation-led commitment

  • Launch of #HForHandwashing a unique initiative to foster the habit of handwashing

  • Hindustan Unilever Foundation Water initiatives update session

Sustaining the sense of purpose

In order to ensure sustained communication and engagement with the Purpose Squad, a monthly newsletter is sent out that encapsulates all updates over the last 30-40 days. Moving Forward With Purpose – Your monthly purpose bulletin is an informative but light communication, including a message from the leaders, basic updates and a quiz/game-based section for squad members to unwind. The newsletter also highlights the top posters for the month and acts as a public recognition platform within the Purpose Squad community, thereby providing encouragement to sustain advocacy efforts.

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The Impact

  • A growing community of thought leaders within HUL, across designations and hierarchies

  • A stronger and deeper understanding of organization-wide and external outreach initiatives amongst employees

  • Higher and more pro-active participation in roundtable sessions and initiative-associated events

  • Strengthened interpersonal relationships amongst the large group of Purpose Squad members, and active sharing of each other’s social media posts

  • Increased visibility for HUL on social media and broadened responses from squad members’ respective social circles

  • The portrayal of HUL as a responsible, purpose-led company that is positively represented by its employees

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