Managing Director of Human Resources for the UK, Ireland, Nordics and Benelux, FedEx Express
I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing to improve employee wellbeing
Introduce yourself and tell us about your organisation
I’m Steve Wilkins, HR Director Northern Europe at FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories.
Globally, we deliver more than 18 million shipments per day, have more than 600,000 employees, 680 aircraft, 5,000 facilities and 200,000 vehicles.
But as one of the world’s biggest and most recognisable brands, FedEx is about much more than just delivering parcels. Customer experience is critically important to us too.
Delivering our Purple Promise — making every FedEx experience outstanding — is in our DNA. It’s our commitment to give customers the best service possible each and every day. Without that promise, we’re just another shipping provider and that’s not FedEx.
This is why our people and our culture are so critical to us
What do you think defines an organisation as a top employer today?
For me, it’s about striking a balance between the needs of the business, the needs of customers, and the needs of employees. It’s also about providing the best working environment in which employees are constantly engaged and committed to business success.
Over the years, FedEx has established its reputation as being one of the most employee-friendly companies in the world and is also credited for introducing many innovative HR practices. The people-service-profit (PSP) philosophy, which FedEx introduced since its beginning in 1973, was one-of-its-kind at the time and remains at the heart of our business today. It’s based on the belief that by creating a positive working environment for employees, they will provide better service quality to customers, which will then lead to customers using FedEx products and services. This business success then allows us to reinvest back into our people, and the cycle continues.
As our founder and CEO Frederick Smith said, “when people are placed first, they will provide the highest possible service, and profits will follow”.
I truly believe that.
Tell us about a recent initiative that you have instigated within your organisation that you are most proud of?
I’m especially proud of the work we’re doing to improve employee wellbeing. While the focus on employee wellbeing was particularly high during the pandemic, making sure all our team members are safe and feel supported is and always will be our number one priority.
Recently, we enhanced our existing Employee Assistance Programme, enabling people to get the support they needed, and held management training sessions on mental health awareness so they could spot the signs within their teams of people who may be struggling.
We also launched a number of initiatives to help bring this sense of community into the workplace. For example, in May 2021, 53 team members from our Atherstone hub collectively completed 987 miles in a “Get Active” challenge to raise awareness of the benefits that exercise has on people’s mental health.
While the pandemic has undoubtedly been a challenging time for us all, it has been reassuring and uplifting to see how people have come together during this crisis. We saw a greater focus and emphasis placed on protecting local communities, with individuals taking the initiative and going the extra mile to help neighbours in need.
What is the next objective in your organisation's journey to keep improving the employee experience?
At FedEx, we embrace diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) as an imbedded and integral part of our business strategy and culture. We believe that our strengths come from our differences and we are committed to creating an environment that unlocks the power of diversity in our business and our communities. While DEI has always been part of our DNA and we are proud of what we have achieved during our almost 50-year history, we know it must always be at the forefront of our business strategy.
From our leaders to our team members, everyone has a role to play in building a more inclusive and equitable FedEx in Europe. Our mission is to deliver the programs and employee network groups that enable all our people to be seen and heard for who they are and build a stronger organisation through shared differences.
Nevertheless, DEI is a continuous journey, and we will continue to challenge ourselves and look for growth. We’re devoted to driving change wherever needed and there is always opportunity to do more and do better.
What is the biggest challenge facing your organisation today and how are you planning to overcome it?
Right now, I would say attracting, developing, engaging and retaining people is our biggest challenge.
The pressure is on all organisations to look at total reward, strengthening the employee value proposition and diversifying their offering in conjunction with pay. For example, we are investing in building stronger career paths and talent development programmes to create long term opportunities for people in our organisation.
To measure the impact of this, we continue to engage and communicate with our employees through employee feedback. For example, we have an internal annual employee survey – Survey Feedback Action (SFA) – in which every employee is asked to participate. Results are shared, and managers then hold feedback sessions with their employees to discuss the survey findings and identify opportunities within and outside of their department.
How will your organisation have to adapt to meet the changing future workplace?
Our focus on strategic workforce planning is designed to ensure we have the right people, with the right skills working in the right places.
The workplace and the workforce as we know it has changed and we need to find a way to increase connectivity and a sense of belonging, regardless of where employees are. Remote work was already on the rise before the pandemic, with many employees considering the option a significant factor when exploring job opportunities. So, the changing future workplace for us is one which embraces the flexibility of hybrid and remote working, opening us up to a wider talent pool.
As we emerge from the pandemic, the future of work will also require two types of changes across our workforce: upskilling and reskilling. To support our current and future employees’ development, we continue to focus on a number of programs in order ensure we have the right talent and skills available for our future workplace.
Externally these include student placement programmes and a range of apprenticeships. With the challenges in the logistics industry relating to HGV driver shortages we are especially committed to our Driver Academy program, which supports employees to gain the skills and qualifications needed to make this career step.
This interviewee was kindly introduced to us by ‘Top Employers Institute’ – the global authority on certifying excellence in employee conditions.’ Their organisation is certified as a Top Employer.