RS Subramanian, senior VP and MD, DHL Express India, believes in taking care of customers, employees and investors
Image: Neha Mithbawkar for Forbes India
The year 2020 turned out to be disastrous for job seekers and employees with the coronavirus pandemic forcing companies to resort to downsizing, implementing salary cuts and putting a freeze on recruitment. In these challenging times where employee morale was adversely affected, DHL Express India went out of its way to ensure the physical and mental well-being of its staffers.
“We believe a company is great only when its people feel great. We recognise and appreciate the commitment of our employees during these extraordinary times. We understand that employees today need greater support and tools to unwind,” says RS Subramanian, senior VP and MD, DHL Express India. The company has over 3,200 full-time employees and an attrition rate of 5 percent, according to human resources and management consultancy Kincentric.
Subramanian says the company’s work culture is driven by the desire to deliver results against all odds. “Our focus on the three bottom lines ensures we do a fine act of taking the best care of our employees, customers and investors. This is what makes us the preferred employer, service provider as well as investment,” he adds.
According to him, the logistics and express industry has had sustained growth over the past decade and is expected to continue to grow in the coming years as the industry adapts to sophisticated business models and expands to global markets. DHL has been at the forefront—supporting Indian business, both large and SMEs—of competing in international markets and driving growth. This not only increases the prospects of job seekers but also emphasises the organisation’s commitment to managing and retaining the workforce.
During the pandemic, DHL introduced various initiatives to keep its staff motivated. For instance, its ‘Engage More’ programme involved not just employees but also their families with various hobby-led activations, workshops and more. “We hosted several webinars for our employees, covering various aspects of the transition to work-from-home that would help them manage both their personal and professional work better,” says Subramanian.
“Most of the researchers have found that the lead to being an astounding employer is employee engagement,” says Pallavi Chawla, managing director of Alliance Recruitment Agency
, a staffing agency. DHL Express India is no stranger to activities around employee engagement—it has an Employee Engagement Score of 90 percent, according to Kincentric, surpassing the industry standard of 83 percent.
During the pandemic, DHL Express organised an Appreciation Week, DHL's Got Heart, and reward and recognition programmes (employee of the year, ACE awards, long service awards etc) apart from having celebrations like I Love IT, First Choice Week and Customer Service Week among others.
While such programmes help break the monotony from work, DHL is clear about its larger goals. It has over 18 percent female employees and managers, and the company wants to further the gender diversity agenda. It launched a DHL4her programme which has several online modules and outreach mechanisms that cater specifically to women in the workforce.
The company even intends to improve its functioning at multiple levels. “Our focus continues to be on developing our frontline leaders, namely our supervisors. They have the most critical role in any organisation—of providing leadership to the frontline teams while providing us with feedback and inputs that help in developing efficient business plans. They are the linchpins of our organisation and need continuous development and attention,” says Subramanian.
Chawla says an ideal workplace has three important elements:Transparency
—Every company has ups and downs, so the leaders should be transparent and be able to share the good and bad news. They should also seek feedback from employees.Engagement
—An engrossed team encourages a problem-solving attitude and enhances a culture of unity. They are fascinated and eager to take up work challenges, and attain new skills and knowledge.Communication
—Communication between employees and employer should be continuous and precise. Employees must have a learning attitude in order to seek information from HR or their managers when they are facing work problems.
Despite the absence of a physical workspace and watercooler camaraderie during the pandemic, DHL claims to have met these expectations. It has managed to digitise all its operations and remain ahead of the curve. “We created virtual formats of engaging with our teams to ensure they are motivated, productive and well-taken-care-of through the pandemic… and we continue to do that because we at DHL Express believe in being the team behind the team.”
(This story appears in the 26 March, 2021 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)