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Skilling, post-haste

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on June 20, 2018 Published on June 20, 2018

DHL Express delivers education to its front line employees

The newest employee perk in town is college tuition assistance programmes. In the US, Starbucks and Jet Blue’s college plans for their employees have become HR case studies. Walmart recently joined the club announcing a college programme for its employees this May. The retail giant, which employs over 1.5 million workers in the US, estimates over 50,000 employees could sign up for the college plan.

Closer home, DHL Express India has been delivering the goods not just to its customers but its employees too. Front line employees of the courier, parcel and express mail services firm are being encouraged to go back to college to complete their education. So far around 700 employees have joined the Umang programme of DHL Express that not only reimburses tuition fees but also grants an additional financial aid.

“We are investing in infrastructure, investing in the network and investing in our people,” says DHL Express India Managing Director RS Subramanian, talking about the expansion of the company and the employee engagement programmes.

Currently DHL has 3,100 employees, 1,200 of whom were added in the last five years. According to Subramaniam, 80-85 per cent of the company’s employees are frontline workers – mainly courier and delivery staff with another 300 people in customer service. Every year the company is adding 200-250 people.

When the company mooted the idea of the college assistance programme a few years ago, Subramanian says over 500 people put up their hands. Those interested were helped by the company to get admission into Open University programmes. Over and above the tuition fee and financial aid, those completing the course get a bonus. “We pay a minor allowance as a motivator, to keep their enthusiasm for the course going,” says Subramanian.

Quite a few couriers have now graduated successfully. Some have even completed their MBA, and one is even considering a PhD now. The Umang programme, says Subramanian, links back to DHL’s CSR pillar of GoTeach. Among other initiatives, as part of Go Teach, DHL sponsors a skilling course run by SOS children’s village in Delhi, where they pick up students who have finished 10th standard and make them employable. So far DHL has sponsored 250 students, and absorbed two of them into its fold.

As for those joining its Umang programme, there are no strings attached, no bonds tying the employees to the company, stresses Subramanian. He says it has helped a lot of the front line employees come out of their shells, gain confidence and also speeded them up the career path. He points out how many senior managers in the company have risen from the ranks. The hope from Umang is it will enable many more front line employees graduate to the managerial league.

Published on June 20, 2018
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