The EX Advantage: The DHL Experience

Employee experience (EX) is challenging. Every workforce generation has its needs, desires and wants. They also come with new expectations that can be at odds with previous generations'.

EX expectations also change during an employee lifecycle. Their expectations and requirements evolve from the time they onboard to the time they leave. Managing these diverse expectations keeps many HR leaders on their toes.

But DHL Express seems to thrive. The company's relentless pursuit of building the right workplace is working. It won 50 awards for workplace culture, including the prestigious Best Workplace in Asia for 2019 by Great Place to Work® (GPTW). This brings the total number of awards won since 2014 to 192, proving that the company is doing something right.

Mateen Thiruselvaam, senior vice president for Human Resources at DHL Express, Asia Pacific highlighted the chief ingredient was EX. He also shared three ways the company maximizes its EX advantage.


Startups are often seen as exciting places to work. Larger companies are not. Having defined functions and being process-oriented seem to extinguish the initial entrepreneurial spark.

So, DHL decided to get in touch with its roots. The company highlighted the founding principles to every new employee. It also created an award-winning structured employee program around these called the certified international specialist (CIS).

“At the heart of our effort lies the CIS program. It keeps the employees engaged and charged up," Thiruselvaam said.

The CIS program is made up of a Foundation course and specialized modules for individual functions. These include sales, customs clearance and leadership. All courses provide a unique experiential experience. DHL Express executives and managers worldwide get involved, offering an experiential experience.

"And it is one of the reasons why we achieved above 90 across all our employee KPIs,” Thiruselvaam added.


Feedback and understanding the customer needs are crucial for DHL. The various feedback initiatives helped the employees to get engaged with the company’s decision-making process, said Thiruselvaam. It also helps the company to explore new initiatives to improve customer experience.

Thiruselvaam sees a strong link between EX and customer experience. “Good CX always begins with the employee experience,” he added.

Good EX can also drive adoption of new initiatives. Thiruselvaam cited DHL’s efforts to automate as an example. “We automated a lot of operations, including HR processes. But we need to communicate that these are not there to replace employees clearly." Strong EX helped the company communicate its goals for automation effectively.

“At DHL, we are looking to enhance the experience of our employees so that they can simplify the lives of our customers,” he said.


Thiruselvaam noted that it is essential for the human resources function to evolve.

“HR’s role is no longer about processes and administration. Yes, those are important, but we need to get actively involved in the business. We need to be there solving customer and other business issues with the lines of business. We need to contribute; else, HR will go extinct."