DHL Express is one of those companies people just want to work for. It’s been recognised as a top employer globally and in various regions around the world, including the UAE. But what makes it such an appealing company to work for?
To get an idea, we spoke to Anu Daga, head of HR at DHL Express UAE ahead of her talk at the Wellbeing at Work event. As well as giving us a clearer understanding of the employee wellness programmes the international courier company has in place, Anu shared some of her thoughts on where employee engagement is going, and the need to maintain the human touch in a data-driven world.
The Key to Success
According to Anu, the reason DHL Express is such a desirable employer is because it views its employees as the key to its success as a business.
“At DHL we take pride in our reputation for our excellent service standards and this can only be achieved if we have people who are motivated, driven and engaged,” she told us. “What makes DHL a Top Employer consistently in our view is our fundamental ethos that our employees are the key to our success; and then we deliver on this commitment every day”.
There is, Anu insisted, no magical formula that DHL has stumbled upon. Instead, she said, DHL tries to make employee wellness a pervasive part of its culture.
“We do this,” she told us, “by ensuring that we respect our employees, nurture their career development, create a truly fun work environment, be transparent, listen and act on their feedback and celebrate successes”.
She did however say that the company has put a lot of emphasis on wellbeing and CSR in the past couple of years. This, she told us, “shows care and commitment for our employees wellness and ability to create an impact beyond work”.
In and of themselves, those aren’t all that exceptional.
What makes DHL Express unique, Anu told us, “is that we do all this consistently (it’s in the DNA of our culture) and innovate our programs every year which allows our team of 1 000 certified international specialists to have their ‘best day everyday’”.
A personalised approach
Another thing that sets DHL Express apart is that it hasn’t tried to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach to employee engagement.
“We recognize that different people are motivated by different things and with over 1 000 UAE employees in diverse roles we understand those drivers and create the environment and engagement for people to develop a healthier lifestyle,” Anu told us.
According to Anu, this personalisation takes a number of different forms.
“DHL,” she told us, “has dedicated half of an entire floor in its Dubai office to a fully equipped fitness centre (with free fitness classes), recreation rooms, cafeteria (offering healthy salads and food) and relaxation zones”.
Other activities include regular health check-ups, encouraging the habit of reviewing vital statistics, health lecturers, sponsoring sports clubs, financial wellness awareness sessions, monthly health newsletters, quizzes and rewards.
“We recently launched social groups like healthy eating, weight loss and running to encourage employees with similar motivations to work together towards common goals,” Anu told us.
This, she said, has “proven to be very effective as its self-motivated and run by employees but supported by the company through sponsorships”.
Think global, act global
Another major part of DHL’s employee engagement success, Anu told us, is that it can fit regional wants and needs into its international vision.
“We are the world’s most international company with offices in over 220 countries so this internationalism innately ensures that we are sensitive to local customs, policies and traditions,” she told us.
Reaping the benefits
All of these efforts have paid off for DHL Express too. According to Anu, DHL’s sickness rates for the last three years is at 0.01%, participation rates in wellness initiatives have increased by over 60% and Overtime has been reduced to practically zero reinforcing the importance of work life balance.
It’s not just about the results though.
“We see health and wellness as an integral part of our employee engagement and employee value proposition,” Anu told us. “Increasingly today’s generation of employees are looking for organizations that can offer a holistic work environment. Our focus on wellbeing is definitely an important aspect that makes DHL stand out as a Great place to work”.
The future of work
That said, Anu isn’t about to be complacent. She is well-versed in what’s happening in the wider employee engagement space as well as the trends likely to play a major role in its future.
“I believe the mind-set around wellness has expanded tremendously to include newer views and programs beyond the traditional health checks, lectures, fitness programmes,” she told us. “Recognising the rapid changes and stressful work environment has encouraged organisations to focus on topics such as emotional wellbeing, mindfulness, work-life balance policies and digital detox programmes”.
Once considered “alternative” and “out there”, these programmes are fast becoming part of the mainstream.
DHL, for instance, has a 21st Century Manager programme that includes a module called “Fit to Lead”. According to Anu, this programme “encourages managers to be Chief Energy Officers by recognizing the importance of work life balance and creating an environment that supports employee wellbeing physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually”.
Looking forward, she told us, “employers are embracing gamification and wellness apps to reach a wider group and encourage participation through different channels and rewards programs”.
Another key emerging trend identified by Anu, is “government and insurance provider driven wellness focus topics to reduce the incidents of lifestyle diseases in the community”.
“All these initiatives are bringing the importance of wellbeing at the forefront of an organisation’s strategic people objectives,” she said. “Our focus on wellbeing is definitely an important aspect that makes DHL stand out as a Great place to work”.
The Human Touch
While it would be tempting to take a data-driven approach to all of these initiatives, Anu told us that it’s vital to maintain a human touch.
“Every employer needs to understand what makes their employees tick and what will work – rather than just rolling out programs proposed by partner wellness organisations that are statistically proven to reap benefits,” she told us.
Anu will be speaking at the Wellbeing at Work event, which takes place on 21 February at the Palace Downtown Dubai.