What DHL has learned about business resiliency during Covid

Organisations must prioritise wellbeing and be prepared to be flexible in responding to rapidly changing circumstances, says Caroline Andrews

It is perhaps a truism to say that working life as we know it has changed forever. But as the Covid-19 pandemic continues, HR teams remain under pressure to manage the impact of this new world on their business and its employees. 

Organisations worldwide have pivoted at phenomenal pace to meet the needs of customers. While some of these adaptations are temporary, many more will be here to stay. Managing these often significant changes, and understanding how best to operate in this environment, will be crucial to HR into the future. Here’s how HR leaders can ensure business resiliency moving forward:

Prioritise your people 

Even in times of economic uncertainty, protecting the wellbeing of your people should remain the number one priority. Importantly, wellbeing needs to be thought of holistically, looking at both emotional and financial components, and any actions should be evaluated through this lens. 

Early on in the pandemic we recognised the importance of job security on wellbeing. DHL Express took a more flexible approach to the application of sickness benefit to support those shielding, in accordance with medical advice. We have continued to make sure our communication is as frequent and informative as possible, with a strong focus on health and safety while working, but also revisiting physical and mental wellbeing considerations. 

From a financial perspective, DHL invests a double-digit million euro amount in its employees every year. This year we also paid every staff member around the world a bonus of 300 euros as recognition of their outstanding efforts during the pandemic. 

Respond to changing circumstances  

With lockdown restrictions easing in some parts of the world and being put back into place in others, we’re unlikely to see a sudden return to normal. Instead it seems likely there will be continuous shifts and fluctuations rather than a linear recovery, which businesses will need to be responsive to.

A resilient business and a resilient HR function will need to understand how to best support and engage their employees during this next phase, alongside managing the operational changes needed to comply with new regulations. Earlier this year, we introduced more choices for customers in the way they receive their goods to enable safe, contact-free deliveries. Processes like these will remain incredibly important as we work through the second wave of the virus. 

Ensure emotional resilience 

As we head towards a winter of cold weather and tighter controls, with different regions of the UK operating under different measures and moving in and out of lockdown tiers, change management and emotional resilience will need to become an intrinsic part of any organisation’s DNA. With new challenges and yet another phase of uncertainty, one way businesses can introduce or evaluate resilience among their workforces is to ask employees to reflect on their own current 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. 

Overall there’s no doubt there are tough times still to come, with many difficult decisions to be made. To minimise the impact on the organisation, businesses will need to take a step back and evaluate their position within their own industry, and have a strong understanding of customer and consumer trends. We are all learning together. And while not all companies will come through unscathed, I have strong hope that many will emerge with renewed ambition and a clearer focus that will serve them far beyond the initial period of recovery into greater success.  

Caroline Andrews is VP of HR for UK and IE at DHL Express