Dušanka Babić, HR Director, DHL:

Motivated People

Deutsche Post DHL is giant organisation with around half a million employees. DHL Express, which is one of its business units, has a workforce numbering around 100,000 employees

One of the key success factors of high performing organisations is placing people first, as the business is run by those people.

Your Strategy 2020 carries three key messages – focus, connect, grow. As they relate to the area of HR, are these messages focused on the external or the internal public?

– The ways in which HR helps the organisation to be more effective are primarily through the identification of the need for change and through the execution of change that adds value to organisational effectiveness. Our HR Roadmap 2020 has the same three key themes and its priorities, initiatives and programmes are intended for internal employees. Our HR Focus is to simplify HR processes and services and create a process architecture that efficiently supports our business. Connect means strong leadership through leadership attributes and ways by which we can create and embed a corporate culture that prepares the company for the challenges of the digital future. And the Growth part of the HR strategy is related to talent management, systematic analyses of job profile changes, the re-skilling of our employees and efficient management of selection and on-boarding processes.

To what extent is DHL’s human resources management at the global level adapted to local conditions?

– Global standards maintain quality at a consistently high benchmark, though achieving those standards may take different approaches in different places. Giving local teams the flexibility to adapt to local practises and norms, while remaining true to the spirit of the law, is the best way to empower and motivate employees. By putting a local spin on the global programme, we can better engage with employees in a manner to which they can relate.

As a subsidiary, we align global programmes and initiatives that are locally applicable. Being a large organisation, we are aware of the importance of response times to some specific local matters. Agility and a short response time are critical to survival, and that means being strict on standards but flexible on execution. Our local teams use their market knowledge and cultural insights to overcome challenges for our customers.

Corporate responsibility, as a key element of your corporate strategy, correlates directly with what you define as “living responsibility”. What is the essence of the “living responsibility” concept?

– HR is the ‘Custodian of Ethics in the Company’ from various points of view in creating and promoting equal opportunities throughout the employee lifecycle for all employees in terms of HR activities clustered in Resourcing, Development, Reward Management, Employee Relations, Health and Well-being, Employment Administration and other Line Manager activities, such as setting objectives etc. HR is actively involved in promoting Business ethics, monitoring the level of diversity in the organisation and promoting the interests of the minority. Our corporate value “Accept Social Responsibility” is lived in our day-to-day existence. HR ensures that there is a clear policy in place regarding ‘Dignity at Work’ and contributes strongly to creating Compliance Awareness across the organisation via various educational tools. HR plays an active role in creating and organising CSR activities, in line with our corporate strategy related to the ‘Living Responsibility’ concept with Go Green (zero CO2 footprint), Go Teach (various lectures and workshops for students) and Go Help (helping socially and economically vulnerable groups and less privileged sections of the population in our community). Through our annual Global Volunteer Day programme and activities throughout the year, our employees actively give back by donating their resources, time and knowledge.

At the global level of DP DHL, we translate the organisation’s strategy into an effective and actionable HR strategy, with priorities and a business plan, translating the HR strategy into key people initiatives and programmes and identifying the best ways to attract, motivate, and retain new and existing workforce segments. That strategy cascades down to the Business Units, Regions and, finally, the Country level

Are the students that you engage at DHL in seasonal jobs in DHL your “potential” for the future when it comes to employment?

– In logistics it’s vital that we engage young people. By offering internships in all areas of the business, we are able to give young people the chance to explore their career. Then, by training team members from day one and supporting their aspirations, you will not only up-skill your workforce, but also emphasise your commitment to staff development. In the past year our interns from the Faculty of Transport and Traffic Engineering have stayed with DHL.

Millennials, or Generation Y, will represent 40 per cent of the total workforce by 2020 and 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025.

Putting your best specialists in overseas postings or secondments prepares them for leadership and supplements local teams with cross-cultural expertise. Deutsche Post DHL Group, of which DHL Express is a part, uses an online Job Watch to connect talent to overseas roles precisely for this purpose.

Which is the tougher job – creating a team spirit in accordance with corporate rules or “persuading” employees to play as a team?

– Today’s business climate is defined by speed, social technologies and people’s expectations of “values” besides value. People want a sense of purpose; they expect to be involved and to understand how they personally contribute to the success of the organisation. Leaders must create an outstanding culture for all, no matter who they are or what they do for the organisation. Our story shows that we are coping with this challenge very successfully. Since 2011 we have invested millions to launch a bespoke training and development programme called Certified International Specialist (CIS), involving everyone from couriers to our senior managers. Recognition goes a long way towards cultivating the spark of a winning team. We at DHL Express have a range of initiatives designed to appreciate the everyday heroes of the business, from regular, small gestures of appreciation to Employee of the Quarter/Year, Team of the Quarter/Year, ongoing team building exercises and site events at which employees bond through family gatherings and other community activities. All of the aforementioned creates a unique spirit of belonging and teamwork.