How has the international transport company DHL been dealing with the Corona crisis? We asked Thomas Erni, HR Director of DHL Switzerland, to tell us how the crisis affected them and still affects them, what measures they have taken, what their next steps are and what tips they can give other companies.
How does the Corona crisis affect you?
Thomas: Of course the Corona crisis affects us strongly as a reliable delivery company. We want to supply our customers reliably and at the same time maintain our high quality standards. But in the transport business, constant contact between people is essential. We were therefore forced to act quickly and adapt our external and internal processes as quickly as possible to the current conditions and regulations of the FOPH - to protect the health of our employees and customers at all times.
What measures have you already taken to protect employees from the corona virus?
Thomas: We had to react very quickly and proactively - including transparent communication with our employees. Persons belonging to the risk group were immediately sent home and directly informed that they would continue to receive full pay until further notice (although this was not yet clearly defined by the BAG). Employees who are able to work from home were sent to the home office one week before the federal government's instruction. Employees who cannot do their job from home - about two-thirds of our employees - continue to carry out their work, subject to clear protective measures.
"The risk of infection can only be stopped as a functioning community in which everyone plays by the new rules" – Thomas Erni, HR Director of DHL Switzerland
What are your next steps?
Thomas: First of all, I would like to thank all our employees here who continue to come to work every day and continue to do their jobs with full commitment under difficult conditions, thus ensuring that we can deliver all shipments on time. For us, only a considered and gradual reduction of personnel from the home office is possible, because the protection of employees and customers is our top priority. In order to ensure a safe process, we strictly follow the guidelines and recommendations of SUVA, SECO and the BAG. Based on this, we have drawn up an internal guideline which is communicated transparently and in detail to all locations. We do not consider a complete return of staff to be realistic and feasible before 8 June 2020. At this point, we do not want to take any risks at all by getting our employees back into business too quickly, because it is our responsibility to take care of our employees and to protect them as best we can against COVID 19.
What tips can you derive from your experience and give to other companies?
Thomas: Above all, proactive and forward-looking action and communication is highly recommended - in order to sensitize all people involved with our company, whether employees, customers or suppliers, to the topic. Because the risk of infection can only be stopped as a functioning community in which everyone plays by the new rules of the game. Here in Switzerland, we were once again able to feel the advantages of a global company in this crisis. Countries such as Italy, which were affected by the Corona crisis much earlier, promptly shared their internally developed guidelines and standards with us and other DHL countries. As a result, we were prepared quickly and early and were able to react proactively to the crisis much faster than other companies.
These are the measures DHL implemented:
- Home office for all office employees
- Transparent communication and weekly updates to all employees (since end of February)
- Installation of partitions and art glass at our DHL ServicePoint and the instruction that only one customer may be at the counter at a time.
- Floor markings to ensure a minimum distance of two meters between employees during sorting, loading and unloading etc.
- Marked buffer zones have been established between sorting and loading
- Contactless delivery with adherence to the 2 meter distance specification and with delivery confirmation without signature for private recipients.
- Cash on delivery are temporarily suspended and customs duties are collected by invoice and not by cash collection.
- Tables and chairs in the cafeterias have been removed and a maximum of two persons may stay in the room at the same time, taking into account the corresponding floor markings.
- Equipment and devices such as scanners are disinfected several times a day.