AN ESSAY BY REGINE BÜTTNER

Regine Büttner is a global HR leader with more than 30 years of experience. In her current role as EVP HR, Global & Europe, she is heading up the global HR organization of DHL Express and is a member of the Global Management Board. Regine Büttner leads the people strategy for more than 100,000 employees in over 220 countries.

 

What is the purpose of “purpose”? The answer to this question is more vital and relevant than you may think. Put simply, your purpose is the reason you exist, both as an individual and as a business. Purpose defines you, drives you and motivates you. It makes a company strive to be better and attain success that goes beyond mere money-making. It isn’t, however, the same as a corporate “vision” or “mission” because these things might change over time – but purpose never does.

Having a company’s purpose clear is of interest to its shareholders, customers and employees. To the latter, it provides identification potential and a sense of meaning, because knowing the “why” behind what a company does creates transparency. In its article “Purpose with the Power to Transform Your Organization,” The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) states that “Purpose is also aspirational: It depicts what the organization can be and goes beyond brand positioning to take a stand. Rather than being only market driven, a purpose-based organization is also driven by values, culture, and ethos.” Also, according to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, which is produced by Development Dimensions International (DDI), The Conference Board and EY, being a purposeful organization carries many benefits, such as better engagement, a stronger culture, higher levels of trust and loyalty and even the ability to better retain customers, employees and shareholders during transition periods.

Employee engagement

At DHL Express, our purpose is clear: We want to connect people and improve their lives. This dedication to delivering excellence and making a positive impact on people’s lives comes in many different forms. It can range from the simple delivery of a new online purchase to getting life-saving medication to a patient in need. As we’ve discovered, operating a business with a strong sense of purpose drives employee motivation and increases employee engagement. Even better, when your business purpose fits perfectly with the individual purpose of your employees, it’s possible to achieve great synergy.

Of course, it’s one thing to talk about “purpose” and quite another to put it into practice. To demonstrate purpose successfully, a company must make it live through its every day actions and decisions, as well as anchoring it in the company community. One great way to do this is through corporate volunteering and charitable giving programs. Building these around your purpose and ensuring they are a good fit with your company’s ethos will increase the commitment of your employees and allow them to establish a meaningful connection to their work. In addition, according to 2017 Deloitte Volunteer Impact Research, such programs can be an effective way to build skills, boost morale and improve workplace atmosphere, increase employee retention and increase your employer attractiveness.

Shared purpose

As a company, we wanted to find a way to give back to society while motivating our people and connecting their individual purpose to our shared purpose. While Deutsche Post DHL employees already have the opportunity to participate in the group-wide Global Volunteer Day – a corporate social responsibility program, now in its 10th year – we thought about doing something in addition to this; something closer to the DNA of DHL Express. That’s why we created our global initiative “DHL’s Got Heart,” which establishes a link between the DHL Express purpose of improving lives and the various charitable projects our employees are personally committed to. After all, it’s our employees who help make a difference in this world, day by day. By creating satisfaction for our customers and enabling the success of our business, they are an essential part of our life-improving process. Therefore our role is to support and encourage them, and most of all recognize them for their commitment and contributions. With “DHL’s Got Heart,” we do exactly that by reinforcing their efforts with the means and resources we are able to provide as a company.

Charitable activities

Consequently, in October 2017, we asked our employees around the world to share personal stories of their charitable activities. The response was tremendous. We received more than 400 heartwarming submissions from employees in over 90 countries, and all displayed tremendous passion and strong commitment. Selecting our finalists was an amazing experience and, at the same time, an extremely tough exercise.
Still, we managed to whittle them down to include Nicole Weng and Truc Thanh Tran Ngoc, who support disadvantaged kids in rural China and Vietnam; Dominika Fajkosova, who tirelessly raises funds for a children’s hospice in Slovakia; Diego Guisao Rodriguez in Costa Rica, who spends every weekend teaching and guiding vulnerable youngsters; Quinto Ogwal, one of our customs officials in Uganda, who set up an entire charity on his own (read this story here); and Farah Ramadan, who arranges seasonal camps for children with special needs in Lebanon.

Ultimately, these employees from our six regions had the opportunity to present their charitable projects in front of the company’s senior managers. Those who had made the shortlist also discovered they had each been chosen to receive a sizable amount of funding for their charity work – a memorable experience for everyone. The depth of commitment and engagement from each of our finalists had impressed everyone involved; so with full support from senior management we decided “DHL’s Got Heart” should become a regular event and put out another call to employees asking them to tell us about their charitable experiences. Inspirational tales such as those above indicate that “DHL’s Got Heart” has the potential to become an indispensable part of our corporate culture. More than that, it demonstrates what can happen when a company’s purpose and an individual‘s purpose align with passion and motivation: Anything becomes possible.

For heartwarming stories from this year’s “DHL’s Got Heart” global winners, please follow the link:

http://www.delivered.dhl.com/en/articles/2018/06/do-it-from-the-heart.html

Published: November 2018

Images: Nina Tiefenbach for Delivered.