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Making Purpose Matter: It’s not what you say, but how you see it through

Connecting People, Improving Lives.

Regine Buettner

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Strategist

Unleash Your Purpose EXCLUSIVE Insight from DHL’s Regine Buettner on how purpose has seen them succeed through this time of upheavel.

  • As an essential service provider, DHL’s workforce has continued delivering for customers throughout national lockdowns, meaning much of the workforce is operating on the frontline.
  • During the crisis, our purpose became a vital message to keep people motivated and showing up to work while so many other professions were told to stay at home.
  • There’s a reason why they were recently ranked #2 in the Global Great Place to Work list of World’s Best Workplaces.

Unleash Your Purpose EXCLUSIVE Insight from DHL’s Regine Buettner on how purpose has seen them succeed through this time of upheavel.

  • As an essential service provider, DHL’s workforce has continued delivering for customers throughout national lockdowns, meaning much of the workforce is operating on the frontline.
  • During the crisis, our purpose became a vital message to keep people motivated and showing up to work while so many other professions were told to stay at home.
  • There’s a reason why they were recently ranked #2 in the Global Great Place to Work list of World’s Best Workplaces.

Throughout the pandemic, DHL’s purpose, ‘Connecting People, Improving Lives’ has become more integral to the HR strategy than ever before. As an essential service provider, our workforce has continued delivering for customers throughout national lockdowns, meaning much of the workforce is operating on the frontline. As a global business, we’ve faced the added complexity of navigating brand-new local legislation while engaging teams at different stages of the crisis.

Regardless of country or regional differences, the one thing that has been common across our business is our purpose. Under any circumstances, purpose has the power to drive a strong connection to the company, as people increasingly look to find meaning in their work. During a time of global crisis, it has created a sense of pride and given everyone the encouragement they need to keep on going.

Purpose as a motivating force

For many organizations, business purpose can sometimes get lost among tactical messages and getting on with the day job. But during the crisis, our purpose became a vital message to keep people motivated and showing up to work while so many other professions were told to stay at home.

Our strategy was twofold: bring our purpose to life and ensure everyone felt valued for their role in achieving it.

1. Bringing purpose to life

In normal times we spend less time talking about what we deliver and more time focused on how. This needed to change, we had to ensure our people knew the importance of the goods they were delivering, that’s why we sought out examples like our UK operation delivering vital PPE to the NHS or our team in Malaysia delivering health packs to local students. We also tracked down good news stories like how our team in Argentina supported the local Red Cross to assemble 5,000 emergency kits, which gave us the opportunity to celebrate the role we were playing in public life.

These stories were shared globally on social media and through our internal channels – including our employee app, Smartr. It was vital to remember that when Europe was creeping out of the first wave, much of South America was approaching its peak. Messages needed to be motivating but sensitive to the circumstances of all our people.

Equally important was making clear to non-frontline teams that there’s really no such thing as a support function, every team plays a vital role in keeping our business moving.

2. Recognizing the role of every individual

During lockdown the role of logistics came to the fore and there was genuine, public appreciation for our people. We felt just as grateful and proud and wanted to show it.

Heartfelt messages of thanks from senior management were recorded and shared, while local teams clapped for couriers as they headed out on their shifts.

We used internal channels and social media to share personalized #TapForPride thank you videos for our staff around the world, letting them know they’re valued and appreciated and at the same time boosting that feeling of community.

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We also ensured that our philanthropic programme, DHL’s Got Heart, continued. This project sees us award substantial donations to the causes that our people are passionate about and actively support. During the pandemic causes such as these needed our support more than ever, so we continued with the award events – albeit virtually – and we launched the next round of the competition which has seen a record number of entries from our people.

We also got creative and leveraged the assets at our disposal. Our sponsorship of Manchester United football club gave us the chance to share messages of support and thanks to our workforce from world famous footballers – cheering them on and encouraging them to keep going so that other people could stay home and stop the spread of the virus.

Ensuring the sense of purpose lives on

Our purpose is now front and center in the minds of employees, even more so than it was previously, but it is up to us to harness that connection employees have to the business and ensure that this lives on in more stable times.

This experience has sharpened our focus on employee engagement and internal communications, to ensure that the messages reminding people why we exist stay front of mind, while recognition platforms will continue to be closely aligned to our purpose.

There’s no denying that this has been a difficult time for our business, as it has for so many others. But just this month we were ranked #2 in the Global Great Place to Work list of World’s Best Workplaces and I strongly believe that this would not have been possible had our people not felt such a strong connection to our collective purpose.

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