Building organisational resilience at DHL Express

Written by
Caroline Andrews, vice president - HR UK&IE, DHL Express

06 Aug 2020

06 Aug 2020 • by Caroline Andrews, vice president - HR UK&IE, DHL Express


What steps can organisations take to strengthen employee resilience in the wake of Covid-19? Caroline Andrews, vice president of HR UK&IE at DHL Express, explains some steps they are taking to support colleagues.

The modern workplace has been undergoing a process of transformation over recent years, with new technologies in particular changing the way we see work and our ideas about its future.

The last few months have really accelerated this process, as the Covid-19 pandemic forced businesses to reevaluate their working practices, asked them to consider what their organisation’s purpose and values were, and how to strengthen their culture at a time of huge upheaval.

As a result, business values and priorities are undoubtedly changing, and while we’re seeing many embrace the transformation, knowing what to expect and how to best enact the change needed is no simple matter. 

Flexibility is key for the future

To be successful, modern leadership, frameworks and principles will move to replace more traditional management control and protocols, when these aren’t required from a compliance or governance perspective.

For example, the recent ‘forced’ increase in smart ‘home’ working will likely see businesses transition away from their current organisational structures and practices to ones that are more flexible and more in tune with future business and employee needs.

As we move into a period of greater stability, the businesses able to be most responsive to societal, financial and industrial changes will be the ones who are best placed to thrive.

Flattening of hierarchies

One change we can expect to see is a move towards flatter hierarchies, as well as an increase in team sizes. A move away from the more conventional manager-to-employee relationship, which has underpinned traditional hierarchy structures, will become more commonplace. 

With less supervision, business leaders will need to ensure that motivation and productivity remains high. Change management will need to become an intrinsic part of organisations’ DNA, with a high degree of emotional resilience existing amongst its people.

One way organisations can introduce or evaluate resilience among its workforce is to ask employees to reflect on their own current resilience habits using a self-assessment and scoring themselves. HR teams are then given the opportunity to address any existing gaps or challenges people are facing and introduce new strategies for coping.

At DHL Express UK, we are rolling out emotional resilience training to support our people’s wellbeing, as we recognise the change of place in work environments today and the potential impact this has on our people. By doing so, we hope to develop our organisation’s resilience capability even further.   

Spreading skills and resource 

The next key trend we will see is a wider spreading of skills and resources across the business. Leaders should look to limit the development of large pools of resources - that may not actually be required in the medium to long term.

We should instead take the time to consider whether members’ strengths can be better utilised elsewhere in the organisation instead, as opposed to grouping together common expertise. Knowledge is best used when shared and a common asset, rather than when it is confined to silos. 

The changing job spec

In order to accommodate a workforce now fundamentally changed by the pandemic, we are faced with the realisation that the idea of the job spec and job role will need to change. By fostering a strengths-based approach, we will likely see employees develop through less conventional career paths than before.

Individuals will be given a wider remit and be given more diverse tasks as part of their job spec. This will contribute to an overarching trend towards empowering more people and giving a greater sense of purpose and responsibility to junior levels. 

Employees will need to be equipped with the skills to navigate the career market and ensure that the lack of ‘less traditional’ career paths does not play a role in people looking to progress elsewhere.

Employers will need to ensure that they fuel employee engagement with increased experience and exposure, which in turn will offer more accelerated learning.

Within DHL Express UK, we focus on encouraging individuals to take ownership of their careers, and we enhance our peoples’ skills to navigate the career landscape in a way that creates a rich experience and leverages our unique internal job market that expands over more than 220 countries and territories. 

It's important to realise that this is not about one size fits all, but will be in relation to the various elements and direction of travel, and where an organisation currently sits on the spectrum.

Fundamentally, today’s businesses will need to take a step back and evaluate their position within their own industry, but also have a strong understanding of current and anticipated customer and consumer trends.

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