DHL Express India on 2022 Hiring Agenda, Welfare for Frontline Workers, Skilling and HR Automation 376

DHL express

Talking to All Things Talent, Sunjoy Dhaawan, VP – Human Resources, DHL Express India elaborates on the organisation’s hiring ambitions, the welfare of frontline workers and a diversity tracker to enhance the female hiring rate

What will be DHL Express India’s 2022 hiring goals? Are there any new areas that DHLE is looking to hire this year that they haven’t done traditionally?

DHL Express
Sunjoy Dhaawan, VP – Human Resources, DHL Express India

Our employees at DHL Express are diverse ranging from different cultural backgrounds – all with different skills, experiences, and viewpoints. We believe in the respect and recognition of our employees. With over 570,000 employees in over 220 countries and territories Group-wise, we collaborate to truly live our corporate purpose of Connecting people, Improving lives. 

DHL Express has always focused greatly on Diversity & Inclusion in our ecosystem. In line with this, in 2022 we will continue to hire more women in the mid and senior-level leadership positions as well as across functions including the frontline. Similarly, we are evaluating the possibility of hiring Persons with Disabilities for our customer care centers and organizing webinars and workshops for sensitizing our employees. Additionally, technology is a key focus area for us and we will continue to hire the right talent to fulfil our digitalization agenda.

There has been a lot of discussion on the welfare of last-mile delivery personnel. Particularly, how there is the least regard with long hours, stressful incentive system etc., As a long-term player in the logistics space, how do you see this?

Our ‘People First’ approach realizes the contributions of all our employees and ensures their safety as well as emotional well-being through our WeCare initiatives. A few years ago, we realized that a lot of our frontline employees had to quit their education to support their families. Through DHL’s Umang Fellowship program, we assist those employees in pursuing higher education and acquiring new skills. We ensure that they get ample time to balance their work and learning so that it does not become stressful for them. 

We make sure that we have regulated hours but have also introduced in-house counselling facilities for employees and their family members under our WeSupport program. 

Another way to incentivize our employees is by recognizing their efforts through recurring rewards and bonuses. We also have an internal reward system that has been created to motivate our frontline workers which includes highlighting their contributions in the public domain. 

Also read: Expecting Even Better Offer-To-Joining Ratio With The New Model: Ashish Kumar Singh, Meesho (

A few years ago, we realized that a lot of our frontline employees had to quit their education to support their families. Through DHL’s Umang Fellowship program, we assist those employees in pursuing higher education and acquiring new skills. We ensure that they get ample time to balance their work and learning so that it does not become stressful for them. 

How to create a welfare-based system for the gig economy worker in the last mile delivery space?

The gig economy workers played a crucial role in the last mile delivery space delivering medical supplies to those in need. It becomes necessary to think about the welfare of such dedicated workers. Once a minority, technology has enabled these workers to move to the mainstream. 

I feel that employers receive big returns from the gig economy employees. It is, therefore, important that these employees be given incentives and a safe environment with proper medical facilities that helps boost their morale and motivates them to continue working. They must also be a part of various employment benefits like training programs, bonuses, and more for their project period as they serve as regular employees and work with their full potential. Such small acts help attract a better workforce which eventually benefits the company. 

At DHL Express India, we do not employ people on a part-time basis due to the nature of our operations. Additionally, part-time workers are not fully covered by labour laws which is why we choose to hire full-time employees.

How is DHL ensuring that the grievances of the frontline workers are met? 

With our Buddy programs, safety awareness programs against Covid, 24X7 counselling helpline, e-learning initiatives for upskilling, as well as health and fitness programs under our WeCare initiative, we ensure that the concerns raised by all our employees are heard and solved in the best possible way.

Through the “As One” app and Smart Connect – our internal employee engagement mobile applications, we make sure that our employees have their best day at work every day. This not only keeps them engaged with fun employee initiatives but promotes employee networking and keeps them informed on DHL’s policies and updates, which allows them to understand the opportunities available to them. 

We have an open-door policy where employees are encouraged to voice their concerns anytime during discussions or team briefs right up to the level of the Country Head. Additionally, we have a formal Grievance redressal committee that ensures all grievances are heard and addressed promptly.

Can you share some details and numbers of the DHL4Her outreach program? How are you empowering women in this space and what is the number you are looking for in terms of recruits? 

For decades now, frontline workers have mostly been males. We are slowly seeing a shift away from this gender prejudice, especially in the logistics industry. At DHL Express India, 11 percent of our workforce are women. However, if we look beyond operations that have traditionally been male-dominated, we have a healthy female diversity at 29.35 percent, which continues to increase. We believe that cultural changes must permeate from top to bottom, where every member of the organization understands the role women play in the growth of their company. Some of our key senior positions like CFO, VP-Customer Service, Head of HRD, and Head of Communications and Responsibility are all led by women.

DHL4Her is our female outreach program that promotes diversity and is aimed at grooming female talent so that they are ready to take up the international logistics space. We encourage opportunities for women at all levels so that there is an equal gender mix.

It stands on three main pillars: 

  •         Inspire to increase the visibility of female talent within DHL Express and beyond, which will help encourage and empower the next generation of female leaders
  •         Connect via the DHL Women’s Network regionally and globally, and drive the recruitment of female talent 
  •       Develop to offer opportunities for women to reach their full potential and nurture their development through mentorship and one-to-one coaching

The results have been positive as we have seen greater engagement, creativity, and innovation in the organization. 

While we’re not chasing any numbers in terms of female hires, we think every job can be done by women. This ties down to our other D&I program, DHL4ALL which helps us make the most of every employee’s strength and empowers our entire network to be the best they can be.

We follow some practices to enhance our female hiring rate including implementation of a Diversity Tracker to keep track of the number of female candidates moving through various rounds of recruitment, a mandate that 30 percent of CVs going to hiring managers should be CVs of females, and a female panellist on the hiring team for interviews, especially of female candidates. Upon onboarding, we also have a Buddy Program in place only for new female hires to ensure they settle in the company faster. All of these have resulted in achieving a 21 percent female hiring rate in 2021 compared to 15 percent in 2019.

Also read: What Prevents Women From Taking Leadership Roles?

Can you elaborate on the evolution of HR team in a global logistics company? What is the role of Human Resources today (post-Covid-19) as opposed to the role it played in the past?

The role of HR is key to determining the success and the work culture of an organization. There has been a gradual shift in the role of HR at logistics organizations over the past few years. With the increasing need for diversity in the workplace, HRs have realized the importance of maintaining gender balance. The logistics sector has largely been male-dominated in the past but now we see females stepping in and making their mark. At Deutsche Post DHL Group, women constitute 34.2 percent of the total workforce, and currently form 15 percent of the board of management, with these numbers growing steadily. Women in other supervisory boards have increased from 30 percent to 35 percent which is an encouraging development.

As compared to the past, HRs are looking for more dynamic talents and flexible work models. There is no hierarchy in the present-day work model that helps maintain uniformity and encourages the employees to perform their best. Employees want to feel appreciated for their work on an individual level, so organizations need to focus on employee rewards and recognition as well as upskilling. As technology continues to evolve, we must focus on digital transformation to empower our employees and achieve more than before.

In a post-pandemic world, it is also the responsibility of HR to take care of the safety and emotional well-being of the employees. There should be a constant dialogue between HR and the employees so that there is community-building within the organization.

We follow some practices to enhance our female hiring rate including implementation of a Diversity Tracker to keep track of the number of female candidates moving through various rounds of recruitment, a mandate that 30 percent of CVs going to hiring managers should be CVs of females, and a female panellist on the hiring team for interviews, especially of female candidates. 

With increased involuntary attrition and high turnover rates, logistics is one of the worst-hit sectors due to the pandemic fallout. In your opinion, what can organizations do to curtail job losses and negative impacts on employment?

The pandemic has impacted everyone’s lives. It has redefined our definition of ‘normal’ living. Logistics is one of the worst-hit sectors. With work-from-home culture being the ‘new normal’ and general uncertainty surrounding everything, it is hard for employees to stay focused and motivated leading to higher employee turnover. HRs have seen various resignation letters in their inbox, more in the last two years.

Our ‘People First’ approach which is all about recognizing that our people are our greatest assets and ensuring we keep them at the center of every decision we make is what has helped us roll out some of the best-in-class employee benefits and engagement programs to keep the workforce motivated.

At DHL Express, we organize monthly rewards and recognition programs and arrange several engagement initiatives and workshops for employees and their families in line with our people-centric approach. Small things like these make employees feel valued in the workplace which reflects in our overall retention rate which is a healthy 95 percent.

Obviously, reskilling has become a big topic. How do you see skills needs changing in this post-pandemic world? Any advice on how HR leaders can up-skill the workforce and close the skills gap in this space?

The workplace and workforce policies have changed in the new norm. It has increased remote work and accelerated both e-commerce and automation. Tech skills are table stakes, but social, emotional, and advanced cognitive skills are becoming vital. HRs across the globe understand the urgency to rethink their strategies to upgrade employee skillset providing them with the flexibility needed to evolve.

By utilizing technology, employers can use predictive AI to create meaningful insights from both market and internal employee data to develop a long-term road map of skills demand and availability.

I strongly believe that leaders should give more attention to employee personal and professional development by guiding, counselling, and encouraging them to take the necessary time off to attend learning programs. By designing and developing various in-house employee development courses, leaders should encourage a personalized, user-friendly learning ecosystem. They should advocate for continuous learning and development of employees as one of the key elements of their company’s culture. This will drive employees to work harder thereby, closing the skills gap.

How does DHLE approach this remote hiring aspect and what role does Tech in recruitment play? How to develop a technology mindset for recruitment?

The credo of DHL Express is to be fast, efficient, and successful in a competitive global and digital market. We rely on data to optimize our operational efficiency. Similarly, in Talent Acquisition, technology delivers promising results and plays a huge role.  Recruiters must develop a technology-driven mindset to help the company sustain its growth.

At DHL Express, the application and recruitment process is done on a cloud-based tool, and candidates can track their application progress. Job postings via this system are showcased to employees across the globe allowing our employees to apply for vacancies anywhere in line with their aspirations. We have integrated best-in-class solutions for video interviewing, psychometric testing into our recruiting ecosystem. Post selection, we have digitalized the global onboarding process for a smooth candidate transition into the system, building efficiency to this vital process.

AI: How is it changing recruitment as we know it?

AI and ML have transformed the hiring landscape. These data-driven processes have automated tasks across industries. In just 4 years, the adoption of AI by businesses increased by 270 percent and is expected to reach $266.92 billion by 2027.

Finding the right candidate for an organization is necessary for any company’s growth. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) helps HRs automate their systems thereby, speeding up the process of screening, hiring, and onboarding new candidates. 

I believe that companies across sectors have already gradually started using AI tools, and those who haven’t will eventually need to apply these new-age tools to remain ahead of the curve.

Name of the Company: DHL Express India
Year of Incorporation: 1979
Number of Employees: 3281
Name of the Key Executives: Managing Director & SVP, R S Subramanian
Business Line: Express Logistics and Transportation
Hiring Plans: Customer Service
Workforce Growth: 9.8 percent annualised growth from 2017 onwards
Workforce Pie: Operations (69); CS (12); Commercial (10); FIN (5); IT(2); HR (1); General Management (1); Shared Services (1).
Key HR Metric: High employee centricity


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Sunjoy Dhaawan has over 25 years of experience across a broad spectrum of Human Resource and organization development practices in both Indian & MNC companies. He has been a part of the HR Leadership team in leading multi-national organizations, like Colgate-Palmolive, Johnson Controls, Reliance Retail and Otis elevators.

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