“One of DHL’s major goals is to become the Employer of Choice by 2020” – Henry Fares, VP of HR at DHL Express MENA

June 7, 2017

By The HR Observer

Henry Fares is the VP of Human Resources, DHL Express Middle East and North Africa.
Henry provides a broad range of Human Resources strategic and tactical interventions which support the management and staff in developing a positive leadership style and skills to strengthen DHL’s position as an employer of choice. Henry and the HR team manage compensation & benefits, hiring, performance management, organisation development, wellness, employee motivation, communication, grievance, administration and training among other people related matters.

Here are some insights he shared with us on the current  talent management landscape in the MENA region and what DHL is doing to engage millennial talent and develop female leaders.

On Talent Management..

As VP of HR at DHL in MENA, how are you dealing with local talent in global business – What programmes do you have in place to grow DHL’s talent pool?

DHL Express is a company that handles global logistics solutions across borders and employs thousands of people in 220 countries. Managing and maintaining a strong employee-employer relationship means we have to have a number of initiatives in place to engage employees at all levels.

Working for DHL involves a wide range of challenges that contribute to professional and personal growth. It means that we offer our employees the necessary training to make them fit for ever more demanding tasks. Therefore, DHL employees are called upon to contribute to the success of their customers and consequently that of our organisation as a whole or the society and country they operate in. They will be able to experience their impact and that of their team’s first-hand and see their contribution recognized and appreciated.

We use local partnerships to support the development of nationals in our businesses, such as Dubai and Sharjah Women’s College. We have also started prioritizing positions on our leadership development – the MENA Talent Programme – GCC nationals.

The MENA Talent Programme’s objective is to attract, retain and develop a competitive and high potential pipeline of talent within our region. We encourage internal career development movements and provide incentives for people who are able to develop cross-functional skills and work across countries and regions.

On Millennial Talent..

  1. How is DHL managing and engaging with millennial talent?

Stereotyping is always a controversial topic. However, age groups share lots of common interests and traits. Millennials, or Gen Y, will represent 40% of the total workforce by 2020 and 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Therefore, they are critical to the success and sustainability of our business.

HR Experts are noticing that millennials prefer working in teams and groups so at DHL Express we have been introducing Experimental Centric Learning as a primary method of building groups that perform well together. As our teams have grown we have started to develop a need for making sure that teams work well, both across departments and regions.

We have also noticed internally that Millennials, while requiring frequent feedback, are also more sensitive than any other generation to remarks on their work. At DHL we have developed a feed-back culture including Performance Dialogues, Transparency of KPIs and a structured feedback model based on action, impact, and desired behaviour.

On Talent Retention..

  1. What talent retention strategies are working best for DHL?

Our investment in building the right working environment among our employees, as well as fostering recognition and employee engagement on a regular basis is why we manage to retain such great people in our company. We were awarded the Aon Hewitt Best Employer Award for our work in creating a work culture that allows for our employees to expand in their roles and develop their skills.

Our ability to retain top talent also comes down to our culture of ‘continuous improvement’ which we embrace every day and our strategy is simple and is built on 4 main pillars which are – Motivated People, Great Service Quality, Profitable Network and Loyal Customers.

Each pillar adopts several initiatives and projects that make sure the naming of the pillar is achieved, for example under motivated people you would see initiatives such as employee engagement and recognition, training and career progression. By having specific measurable goals we are always on top of providing our employees with a sense of belonging and progression across the company.

One of DHL’s major goals is to become the Employer of Choice by 2020, a goal which we are able to measure through identifying our strengths and weaknesses to help make improvements to work environments. We compare results across regions and businesses so that we can learn how to maintain a high standard across the board and use initiatives in different regions to improve on the overall work experience.

On Developing  Female Leaders..

  1. How is DHL helping develop female leaders in the Middle East – are there any programs in place that aim at developing female talent to future leaders? And what steps is DHL taking to reduce gender gap internally?

We get asked this question a lot as the logistics field is traditionally considered a male-dominated industry. However, in DHL we have plenty of success stories with women positioned in influential roles across the board, such as CFOs, Program Managers, CSR and Sales. At DHL we believe that if a person is determined to succeed, they will succeed regardless of gender.

In order to succeed you need to be sure you are reaching your full potential, and that happens when you cover all facets of your market. Women make up a large percentage of our working population, and it sounds to me like a big mistake not to tap into the set of skills and ideas that they would bring to the business.

Female talents like all employees at DHL sit through an extensive training of the Certified International Program (CIS). CIS has been a fundamental factor in the recent strong performance of DHL Express – it has helped reinforce and reinvigorate the company’s corporate culture, equip our employees with fundamental skills in cross-border shipping, and focus their attention on international growth. Fostering diversity is of strategic importance to us and we have adopted multiple activities in the form of mentoring programs and gender reports to help preserve this culture of acceptance.

Our initiatives were developed under the umbrella of ‘Women in Leadership’ program that we commenced three years ago with the objective of attracting more female employees into our workspace, and to promote the friendly and accepting environment that we enjoy, as well as providing mentorship and development programs.

On Challenges Facing DHL..

  1. What are your top 3 talent management challenges as VP of HR at DHL?

At DHL Express we like to approach challenges as learning opportunities. We train for certainty and educate for uncertainty.

At the human capital level, the trending concern today is around Generation Y Millennials. As Generation Y enters the workforce and Baby Boomers begin to retire, HR and Managers will need to work with a new mind-set, address new employment preferences and hence adopt a new leadership style and adjust employee value propositions.

Another challenge is ensuring employees are committed to your brand. Commitment is based on elements, such as salary, monetary benefits, job growth potential and development. The emotional aspect, on the other hand, is based on the worker’s ethics, beliefs, and satisfaction in regard to their job choice. I believe that you need to strike the right balance of both – emotion and rational.

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