Q&A: Anu Daga: "Excellent standards can only be maintained if you have people who are driven, empowered and engaged"

Author: Criselda Diala-McBride | Date: 30 March 2016

Listening to and acting on staff feedback is the key to a happy workplace, says the head of HR for DHL Express UAE

Anu Daga - Head of DHL Express UAEBecoming a top employer is not easy, but having values that employees can see and react positively to is an important first step. Anu Daga, head of HR for DHL Express UAE, believes innovation is as important to HR as it is to the operational heart of an organisation. And when HR professionals get smart, that translates into tangible corporate gains.

How important is an organisation’s culture in promoting employee engagement?
Our culture can be summarised as ‘engaged and motivated employees having their best day every day’. This is what we believe makes a great workplace – respect as our core value; nurturing employee career development; creating a fun work environment; being transparent; listening and acting on employee feedback; and celebrating successes.

Our management team spends time with frontline employees, which has been a big factor in us consistently maintaining employee engagement scores above 90 per cent.

In 2014, we moved to a new state-of-the-art facility at Meydan. Before we moved, we asked our employees for a wish list of what they would like to have included in the new facility. Based on their feedback, we installed a fitness centre, cafe, quiet rooms, PlayStation corner and pool tables.

What kind of HR initiatives have you implemented to build your employer brand?
Our excellent standards can only be maintained if we have people who are driven, empowered and engaged. What makes DHL a great place to work is our fundamental ethos that our employees are the key to our success. There is no magic formula – it’s about respecting our employees.

We also run the Certified International Specialist (CIS) programme, a learning and development platform that enables staff empowerment through knowledge and provides development opportunities for all 100,000 of our employees across the 220 countries in which we operate. The programme begins with a foundation course, which also serves as an induction for new recruits. Additional modules focus on specific functions within DHL (for example, customs clearance or aviation), and we also run a Certified International Manager programme for executives.

Employee engagement initiatives such as ‘DHL’s Got Talent’, sports tournaments and ‘appreciation weeks’ all help to create a fun work environment. It’s not always about spending big money. Many of our initiatives are enacted with almost no budget and driven purely by the enthusiasm and creativity of our employees. The difference is that we do it consistently, and continually look at ways of improving.

How much of what you do should be standard industry practice?
Increasingly, organisations are recognising the value of good people practices, learning and development, and that getting the right employees on board contributes positively to an organisation’s performance. Employee engagement, health and wellness and other issues are becoming very important. The scope of HR professionals has greatly expanded, and we are seeing a lot more opportunities for both generalists and specialists. Today, HR is at the forefront of influencing an organisation’s culture.