DHL Express' VP of HR: How to increase staff retention

Flexible benefits, apprenticeships in all business areas, and board meetings at different locations are all vital to staff retention at DHL

A challenge every business faces is that of retaining talent. In many industries retention can be just as challenging as recruitment. Recent research conducted by the CIPD suggested that 77% of employers found it difficult to retain staff during the last 12 months. Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) figures show that in 2014 a fifth of employees planned to leave their job. Particularly among millennials, we are seeing a far more transient workforce who lack loyalty to businesses and have been encouraged to take different opportunities to progress.

Focus on achieving recruitment numbers often draws attention away from skills programme delivery and staff satisfaction initiatives. However, developing employees through training programmes, offering them recognition from senior team members, and encouraging loyalty through benefit schemes can have a real impact on retention and, consequently, minimise recruitment needs.

As a business you should always consider: does training truly encourage your staff to build a career with your business from their first day? Initiatives such as internal career days are a great way to demonstrate the progression and roles available. Accessible training schemes and the opportunity to gain additional qualifications and skills are also important.

In logistics it’s vital that we engage young people. It’s well-known that there is a shortage of drivers throughout the industry and so, in order to secure the future of our business, it’s important that we make logistics an appealing choice for the younger generations. One way we attract a pipeline of young talent is by offering apprenticeships in a variety of business areas.

In the past year 92% of our apprentices have stayed with DHL. By offering apprenticeships in all areas of the business we are able to give young people the chance to explore their career and find out where they excel and what interests them most about our business. Then by training team members from day one, and supporting their aspirations, not only will you up-skill your workforce you’ll also emphasise your commitment to staff development.

A wide-ranging benefits package can also help increase employee retention. Enabling an employee to tailor their package – be it discounts on popular products, flexibility in their benefit options, or fun events such as family outings and sports days – can really make a difference. Our Box Clever tool captures the key perks and benefits available at DHL Express in one online portal. With such a mobile workforce, and many employees not desk-based, we’ve also developed an app version to make access easy for everyone.

There’s a huge amount of value in ensuring that employees feel recognised within a business. ILM’s survey into staff retention highlighted that 16% of employees were considering leaving their job because they didn’t feel valued. Having a senior leadership team that’s accessible and visible is a great way to motivate people and ensure they feel recognised. Simply holding board meetings at different sites across the country can make a real difference, with workers able to see that management is engaged with all areas of the business. This also provides more opportunities for staff to meet board-level colleagues and feed back any ideas.

By putting more resource into retaining employees and engaging young people, you will ensure a pipeline of talented people ready to support the future of your business. With Oxford Economics estimating that, on average, it costs employers around £30,000 to replace an employee, it’s clear that a comprehensive people strategy will also save significant amounts in the long term. By developing your team from their very first day, creating an emotional connection with the business, you will take great strides towards retaining a skilled team and creating a united workforce.

Caroline Andrews is VP of HR at DHL Express