With 493 operating locations in the U.S. and Canada, DHL Supply Chain is the largest provider of contract logistics in North America. That size surely offers some advantages. But it also presents challenges.
“We are a growing business and it’s low unemployment right now,” says Scott Sureddin, CEO, North America, DHL Supply Chain. “It’s really hard to find people. We have to be very competitive in getting people to come in, and that comes with several different things.”
At a time when the impact of the coronavirus had yet to be felt across the U.S. employment landscape, Sureddin’s focus was on making DHL an employer of choice. Considerations such as total compensation — versus a more narrow focus on salary or benefits — and talent development programs have been deployed to achieve that end.
But complicating Sureddin’s effort to lower turnover and improve the talent pipeline was a larger, more foundational issue. Each location within DHL’s North American operations, spread out as they are across the continent, was in charge of its own recruiting. That led to significant inconsistencies that affected hiring, onboarding and retention.
Here’s how Sureddin addressed DHL Supply Chain’s turnover problem by leading an overhaul of the company’s recruiting and retention efforts.
Then and now
Sureddin took what could be considered a traditional route to get to the position he’s in now. He put himself through college working in warehousing and transportation as a case picker for a different logistics company, picking orders, hauling them on a pallet jack and loading them in trucks. After college, he went into a management training program and worked his way up into executive roles. About six years ago, he docked in his current role, having traveled a road paved by an employee development program. But things are different today.
“We hire 500 college recruits a year,” Sureddin says. “Our goal is to keep those 500 and it’s a lot more difficult today. People are more transient. They’re moving around to different opportunities. It increases our turnover rates.”
Part of the effort to reach an increasingly fluid workforce starts with meeting them wherever they might be — in person or virtually.
“We recruit from 50 colleges and universities in North America, and we went to more dedicated college recruiting,” he says.
That means having staff whose only responsibility is to meet with and hire interns at colleges, and meet with the colleges to make sure that their leadership programs and DHL’s supply chain programs are compatible.
With a higher-than-they’d-like turnover rate during record-low unemployment, the company also recognized it was struggling to get applicants. It traced the issue to an outdated way of taking in applications, so it created processes using social media as a platform.
“You used to go fill out an application, but no one does that anymore,” Sureddin says. “It’s all through social media, social recruiting sites. It actually not only is easier to apply, it also is a quicker process getting from when you apply to getting hired.”
Everything is done online, he says, until the candidate is invited to interview, then it’s done by phone. It’s a centralized processes that makes it easier to reach lots of potential applicants while making it easier for the applicant to get a job with, and be onboarded by, DHL.
And that gets to the most significant — and productive — change DHL made to improve its approach to hiring and addressing its retention issues: centralization.