Sunjoy Dhaawan, VP of Human Resources, DHL Express India, provides insights into the pivotal role of learning and development, the ever-changing dynamics of the modern workplace, and the company's forward-looking vision for the future of work.
You have been with DHL Express for a decade. How learning and skilling trends have evolved over the years and what does the learning landscape look like for the Logistics industry?
As globalisation supported the growth of economies, the importance of logistics also increased significantly. In my opinion, there is a noticeable distinction between employees from a decade ago and those of today, and I attribute much of this transformation to learning and development.
As our work becomes increasingly 'borderless,' modern offices have evolved towards a more agile, connected, and digital workplace to drive collaboration and workplace excellence. In my opinion, hyper-personalised training has been at the forefront of the evolution of learning and development (L&D). As more companies adopt digital workplaces, business trends also change rapidly. Each employee has to learn and unlearn things constantly. The hyper-personalised blend of technology, training, and industry trends accelerates an employee's growth.
In recent years, we have also seen increased diversity, equity, and inclusive learning in the logistics sector. Diversity has become an integral aspect of the culture of DHL Express. In line with this, we have successfully organised webinars, panel discussions, L&D modules, workshops, and training programs to foster a culture of open communication and diversity. With automation and digital technology, we can enhance employees' productivity and efficiency so that they have more capacity to acquire new skills and take on more critical tasks.
What role does learning and development play in the success of a logistics company, and how do you prioritise it within your HR strategy?
It is rightly said that ‘You don’t build the business. You build people and then people build the business.’ For us, our people are at the core of everything. Their development is our priority.
Employee development is about improving efficiency and helping them gain knowledge and expertise. Our talent development program focuses on LEADS (Employee Development Reviews) and IDP (Individual Development Plan) to understand our people’s needs. Performance reviews provide employees and managers with the opportunity to interact and discuss progress and areas of improvement. This personalised interaction between the employee and the manager helps set clear and specific performance expectations, boosts employee morale and makes them feel valued.
LEADS focuses on providing holistic feedback for each individual, combining an assessment of past performance with recommendations for future development and succession planning on an annual basis. The feedback also supports employees in further development planning, and aligns with their career aspirations. These evaluations help us identify the best candidates for succession planning, and building a strong leadership pipeline for the future. At DHL Express India, these reviews guide our HR team in customising policies and programs to meet the unique needs of our people. They also support decisions related to training, career development, compensation, transfers, promotions, and more, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development.
In addition, we categorise Individual Development Plans (IDPs) based on job functions to assess the training requirements for the function. This process collectively identifies the top overall training needs of the organisation, aligning with the focus of the OYL (Own Your Learning) program, which caters to the organisation's IDP requirements.
The new world of work demands new ideas for learning and development. How is DHL doing in this regard?
It is important to provide employees with the necessary technological tools and a solid understanding of the digital landscape. Consequently, our skill development training programs are aligned with the ever-changing dynamics of the modern workplace. We have introduced relevant modules that encompass areas such as enhancing productivity, promoting engagement, remote management techniques, data analytics, and education on new tools and platforms, among others. Our Smart Connect platform provides employees access to various services and content, including company and HR resources, news, campaigns, and engagement programs. This platform also fosters employee connections through social walls, where they can post updates and leave comments. Our investment in our human capital underscores our commitment to organisational excellence. Our in-house 21st Century Certified Manager and CIM Supervisory programs empower our leaders to embrace change and foster a culture of adaptability and innovation, which is critical in today's fast-paced world. Our new CIS Digitalisation module provides all DHL Express employees with an understanding of what digitalisation means and encourages a digital mindset by exploring opportunities and removing the fear of the unknown. Our Digi Council focuses on enhancing the organisation's digital quotient, including initiatives like Power BI training.
In addition to these virtually accessible modules available, we are equally committed to ensuring that our employees are equipped with a strong grasp of understanding the emerging and unfamiliar concepts within the logistics industry.
Looking ahead to 2024, I anticipate a greater emphasis on advanced supply chain management, driver retention, AI integration, and the implementation of environmentally friendly logistics practices. DHL Express is also transitioning from a traditional model to a multi-hybrid cloud approach. Our ongoing focus on digitising manual processes aims to enhance employee experiences and foster greater efficiency within our teams. These efforts are expected to yield substantial benefits in the long run.
What strategies do you employ to promote a culture of continuous learning and professional development among employees in the logistics sector?
People will continue to be our greatest asset. It is imperative to focus on training and upskilling to improve efficiency and the quality of services in the sector while ensuring process compliance and business continuity. The focus will be on delivering engaging training content through audio/visuals, gamification, and simulators for better outcomes and higher retention. Another key focus will be on hiring more female talents and diverse talent pools such as persons with disabilities. A diverse workforce will benefit any organisation.
We see training as a powerful way to retain employees, motivate them, and impact employee efficiency. Our engagement opportunities extend to families through events like kids contests, LSA (Long Service Awards) and the UPstairs scholarship program to qualified children of our employees. The Certified International Specialist (CIS) programs deepen our employee culture and instill company values. These programs provide skills and a mindset that help our people develop in their roles and lives, encouraging them to participate in regular training sessions and live their Certified attributes every day. About 98% of our employees have undergone our CIS program to date.
What do you think the future of work holds in the next few years?
The forthcoming years will witness significant transformations in the landscape of work. The continuous advancement of technology, automation, and artificial intelligence is set to reshape how we work, altering job roles and the skills demanded. Remote and flexible work arrangements, which have gained prominence amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to gain further traction as employers and employees embrace hybrid work models. Consequently, digital competencies, adaptability, and the ability to collaborate across geographical boundaries will be of paramount importance. Organisations will place a heightened focus on ensuring employee well-being, providing mental health support, and fostering a work-life balance, recognising that a healthy and engaged workforce is fundamental for success.
Inclusivity and diversity initiatives are projected to intensify, as companies realise the advantages of a diverse talent pool. For instance, we have established a D&I council dedicated to creating employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities and improving gender diversity within the organisation. Additionally, sustainability and environmentally responsible practices will be more significant in corporate strategies. Lastly, there will be a greater emphasis on employee health and wellness, taking center stage in the evolving world of work.