Pole 2 Pole: DHL Express’s Trailblazing Programme Blending Employee Wellbeing and Environment Sustainability

4 minutes read
Cultivating a Sense of Purpose by Aligning Employee Priorities and Business Strategy
Billy Elliot
Regional Director APAC
By Billy Elliott, Regional Director for APAC, Top Employers Institute

The importance of wellbeing has significantly increased since the onset of the pandemic, leading many companies to increase wellbeing initiatives. Employee involvement has emerged as a crucial driving force in shaping these programmes.  

Health is very personal, particularly mental and physical wellbeing. In recognition of this fact, many companies conduct individual assessments to develop and design initiatives that cater to their employees’ specific needs. The number of certified Top Employers offering customised wellness plans has risen to 64% in 2022, a notable increase from 52% the previous year.  

Environmental sustainability also holds great significance for employees, providing many with a sense of meaning and purpose. In response, many companies are dedicating additional time and resources to make a more sustainable world. This trend is also apparent in our data, with nearly 57% of certified Top Employers incentivising their employees to support environmental goals.  

Wellbeing and environmental sustainability have become a crucial part of the employee experience and the reputation of any organisation. Recognising both as top priorities is essential for companies that want to remain successful and sustainable in the future. DHL Express has done an excellent job aligning employees’ priorities with their business strategy. Paola Ini, Global Senior Manager of Human Resource Projects for DHL Express, and I discussed how the company did so during Top Employers Institute’s Best Practices Week. In this article, I will share some of the highlights of our fascinating discussion. 

Read More: How Saint-Gobain, Capgemini and bioMérieux are Engaging Employees from a Human-Centric Perspective 

Finding New Ways to Connect 

DHL has built a global network with a workforce of over 600,000 individuals across 220 countries and territories. Paola described how the vast array of locations and cultures represented plays a pivotal role in shaping new initiatives. For her, this variety is not only a challenge but also a source of inspiration. “As a company, we are all about connecting people and improving lives. I feel connected to that mission,” she shared while explaining what she loves about working in HR.   

One remarkable programme that exemplifies DHL’s commitment to wellbeing and environmental sustainability is the Pole 2 Pole initiative. “With these campaigns, our main goal is to connect employees with a greater sense of purpose. We listen to their ideas and connect the dots between the values they express and our business strategy,” Paola said as she explained how they developed this programme. Each aspect of the campaign aligns with one of the company’s four key priorities: health and wellness, diversity and inclusion, environmental education, and engagement.  

Read More: Unlocking the Equity of Neurodiversity  

Pole 2 Pole: Aligning Company and Employee Priorities 

Pole 2 Pole dispatched one team of employee athletes to complete the North Pole marathon in April, followed by another team embarking on a daring expedition to climb Antarctica’s tallest peak in December. DHL leveraged its DHL4HER initiative to actively involve female employees in these athletic feats. These efforts had positive results, with over 100 women submitting applications for one of the seven available spots. The final team included four women and three men.  

Between April and December, Pole 2 Pole flags travelled across DHL locations with an “Activation Week” celebrating their arrival at each stop. These dynamic weeks featured engaging talks and other special events to celebrate the programme’s spirit. Many of these talks and events centred around DHL’s “Fit for Work Fit for Life” initiative, which supports employees in maintaining the four primary sources of energy: 

  • Physical: taking care of your body with proper nutrition, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, and adequate rest, 
  • Emotional: doing things that make you happy such as hobbies and spending time with loved ones,  
  • Mental: Finding a balance between work and play, and 
  • Personal: Finding your purpose and positively impacting other people’s lives.  

DHL included a unique environmental sustainability element in the Activation Weeks. The company pledged to plant a tree for every kilometre employees walked or ran. Paola shared that offering various options to get involved was a priority, “It was important that participation was not mandatory. The invitation was if they feel genuinely identified with the goals, they can contribute however suits them best.” As part of the campaign, the company also donated a generous sum of $100,000 to Conservation International, a nonprofit organisation dedicated to environmental conservation.  

The Pole 2 Pole campaign illustrates DHL’s holistic approach to fostering a culture of wellbeing, environmental stewardship, and collective engagement. As the company continues to champion initiatives like Pole 2 Pole, it reaffirms its commitment to connecting individuals, enriching lives, and profoundly impacting both its employees and the world.  


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Pole 2 Pole: DHL Express’s Trailblazing Programme Blending Employee Wellbeing and Environment Sustainability