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Pioneers of Trust at Europe's Best Workplaces: DHL Express

DHL Express Europe's Best Workplaces
10 October 2023

For the third year in a row, DHL Express tops the list as Europe’s Best Multinational Workplace. With 16 of their European offices ranking on the national Great Place To Work lists, DHL Express proves that people are at the heart of their strategy.

Global CEO John Pearson and Supervisor Mohammed Aziman explain why accountability, involvement, and trust are the key to their success. And why 45,000 DHL employees in Europe feel truly heard. 


How DHL Express' leadership makes them Europe's Best Workplace

“A short time ago on Instagram, a Navy Seal posted that the three primary values of leadership are humility, humility, and humility,” John begins. “Leaders need humility. About their position, about their role. That gives an immediate level of authenticity to any interaction. When I truly interact with people on the work floor, I respect the interaction by demonstrating pure authenticity and trust. Someone is always trying to rush me through these interactions to get to some meeting or another, but I know that taking a few minutes to interact can really mean a lot to people.” 

According to Mohammed, that kind of authenticity is an essential component of DHL Europe’s culture. “DHL Express’s leaders keep their promises, and they are respected for who they are. I feel most supported because it’s always about people. I’m proud to feel that my colleagues can count on me. It genuinely makes me happy.” 


Caring for front line workers 

As a supervisor, Mohammed knows he’s got a big role to play in ensuring his team never forgets they can trust him. “The first thing I do in the morning is greet my team. In the 12 years I’ve worked here, I’ve built very strong relationships with my colleagues, and DHL Express encourages this. The DHL formula of working ‘As One’ is really effective. I’ve seen it myself with the strong results my team has achieved. Teamwork and ‘As One’ are key to our success.” 

DHL Express Made to Feel WelcomeJohn says Mohammed’s role goes even further than that. After all, with 45,000 employees throughout Europe, small team dynamics go a long way. “The supervisor level is the most important strata in our company. We should be obsessed with them and fascinated by them. With 70% of our workforce on the front line, there’s a supervisor for every 15 employees, on average. When the front line goes home happy, they come to work happy, they love DHL and they perform well for us. The frontliners who have to work on the airport cargo ramp in freezing temperatures should have a perfect shift.” 


Treating employees as individuals

“At DHL Express, I’m not a number. I’m a person, a face, an individual,” Mohammed says. “To achieve our goal, we all have to work together and do our part, but we work with people of different nationalities, different cultures. Taking a walk through the warehouse feels like a world tour. But I haven’t experienced anywhere else how much our individual talents are recognised and nurtured. The trust you receive is a tremendous boost.” 

John is working towards ensuring that every employee feels that appreciation boost. “We always say that DHL Express needs to be a great place to work for all. Not just for some or most. For all. It’s a realistic ambition, and our Appreciation Week program is just one way we try to ensure that every single DHL colleague feels seen and heard.”  


DHL Express Europe's Best Workplace Awards 2023 DHL Express Employees at the 2023 Europe's Best Workplaces Awards in Luxembourg


Involvement builds trust 

John says making sure he truly hears his employees comes from a piece of simple advice he received. “You’ve got two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that proportion,” he says. “I want to create an atmosphere in which people want to be involved. Interested in learning about the company, eager for those after-work drinks, willing to volunteer to help out with a company event, and more. Involvement builds trust. Trust is actually a very complex thing, it depends so much on who is asking for it, and who’s giving it. People will only say as much as they feel they’re expected or allowed to say. But when people feel comfortable saying more, you’re able to learn more from them.” 

“There are several initiatives that encourage employees to share ideas and give feedback, like the Employee Opinion Survey (EOS) and the Smart Connect employee app,” Mohammed agrees. “But the quickest way is simply to approach the responsible parties. DHL Express is open to new projects and encourages people to take initiative, so all you have to do is speak up.” 


People at the center 

John explains why actions are so much more powerful than words. “Every company says that people are at the center of everything they do. But only if you live that out authentically and can point to dozens of proof points that demonstrate it, then they’re just words. Being named Europe’s Best Workplace for the third year in a row shows how happy our people are. They’re proud to go home and say, ‘I work for the #1’. They tell friends to come and work with us. I talk to investors and they want to hear all about our ranking and what it means. I think there’s no limit to the extent to which we find the Best Workplace ranking valuable.” 


Deliver the value 

Want to be a global leader and a Great Place To Work? Listen more than you talk. Practice authentic humility that builds trust. And make sure everyone in your organisation is celebrated for their contribution and commitment. When you truly recognise each employee as a valuable individual, you’ll unlock their true potential. Whether you’ve got 45 employees or 45,000.  


Leaders at Europe's Best Workplaces are pioneers of trust. See the full list now.


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