How DHL Express increased its employee engagement rate by 11%

Linda Clinch, VP HR for DHL Express Oceania, says there have been 3 keys to improving DHL’s organisational culture

A successful combination of employee engagement, active leadership and investing in employee training have been critical to improving DHL’s organisational culture, according to Linda Clinch, VP HR for DHL Express Oceania.

She explained that the underlying foundation for building a great workplace where employees feel valued and inspired to do their best originates in an organisation’s culture.

“We invest in our three areas of success – employee engagement, active leadership and employee training – through a number of measured programs across our business that all aim to give our employees a voice,” she explained.

“When each part of our strategy aligns, that’s when the best outcomes occur for everyone.”

DHL, which employs some 360,000 people in over 220 countries and territories worldwide (of which more than 1200 are located in Australia), places a strong focus on training and development to engage and retain talent.

“Every employee will participate in our structured global certified international specialist and certified international manager training program, right from the point they are on-boarded and throughout their career at DHL Express,” said Clinch.

In this program, each employee is given a DHL Express ‘passport’, and as they complete courses along their career journey they will be awarded another stamp in their passport.

“This program enables employees to learn and adapt to our respect- and results-orientated culture, develop their industry knowledge and their job role related skills, ultimately becoming a specialist and leader in their chosen area.

“Two-way communication is a key focus area for us in building an open, trusting culture”

“Many of our employees spend their entire career with us, moving from one role to the next,” she said.

The company’s culture of employee development, inclusivity and appreciation has resulted in a very low single-digit employee turnover rate over the past five years, Clinch explained.

DHL Express was also recognised as one of the 2018 Best Places to Work in Australia (over 1,000 employees), while it has also been certified by the Top Employers Institute as a leading employer globally and an employer of choice in the Australian Business Awards.

Clinch explained that the company’s management team comes together annually to show appreciation for the significant contributions employees make to the business.

“During the employee appreciation week period, employees are treated to lunches, gifts and the opportunity to participate in engagement activities that link back to strengthening our workplace culture,” she said.

DHL also conducts a yearly employee opinion survey, which has recorded a continual climb in employee engagement from 78 per cent to 89 per cent and an active leadership score from 76 per cent to 84 per cent over a five-year period.

“On a day-to-day basis our employees have the opportunity to express their thoughts through team performance dialog board meetings, employee committees at our sites, and nominations in our employee of the month, quarter and year program,” said Clinch.

“Two-way communication is a key focus area for us in building an open, trusting culture.”

Getting talent acquisition right
DHL employs a range of recruitment tools for selecting the right talent, and when assessing a candidate it screens for alignment with the key attributes of DHL’s workforce: “a passion for work, pride in getting things right first time, a can-do spirit, and the ability to deliver results with speed”, said Clinch.

“There are achievable ways for us to tackle these challenges to ensure we do recruit the right people across the country in a structured and well-assessed manner”

DHL Express’ core focus is to recruit at the frontline of its business, across all core functions including operations, customer service, finance and sales.

As an employee starts in one of these frontline roles, they are encouraged to follow the certified international specialist program to work and develop their knowledge and skills.

“We are passionate about promoting from within as we believe having managers and executives who hold experience working as a courier out on the road or a customer service agent on the phone brings a higher level of understanding, empathy and experience-informed solution development to our leadership,” she said.

“Many of our current managers and executives began in our business on the frontline, and we see many of our employees go on to celebrate their 10, 15, 20 and even 30 years of service at DHL Express – a fair achievement for a company about to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2019.”

However, Clinch acknowledged that timing and the location of vacancies does not always meet the internal market availability of candidates.

The geographical spread of the DHL Express business across Australia, with 17 sites ranging from teams of eight to more than 200, can provide a challenge to the consistency in recruitment approach.

“That said, there are achievable ways for us to tackle these challenges to ensure we do recruit the right people across the country in a structured and well-assessed manner,” she said.

One recruitment tool that has helped in this challenge is the video interview tool, Sonru, which gives all recruiting stakeholders the ability to screen candidates, even if they are not in physical proximity to where the role vacancy is located.

As an international company with a presence in more than 220 countries and territories worldwide, we have a unique opportunity to share talent globally,” said Clinch.

“By recruiting from our global network, we are able to benefit from a wealth of existing business knowledge, while also giving someone the opportunity to take their career to the next level.”