Healthy employees are central to a well-functioning company. At PostNL, a pre-condition is providing a work environment where our people feel safe.
After 20 years of delivering mail, Tineke van Bloemsma-van Dijk was ready for a new challenge. She worked with HR to develop a learning path, and before long she had her heavy goods vehicle (HGV) license. Now, she delivers parcels for PostNL throughout the Netherlands.
“My husband has an HGV licence and he suggested taking a test lesson on a truck, and a few days later I was sitting behind that big steering wheel for the first time. Then I heard through HR about a position with PostNL Transport. I applied and was hired. They even paid for my driving lessons and helped me to become a truck driver.”
“In the beginning I felt a bit clumsy. It is quite something to be in charge of a 17-meter long truck. Fortunately, a colleague joined me on journeys for the first two weeks, which helped. Although I drive on my own, I don’t feel lonely. Every trip I talk to different customers and if I have time, I take a break at the sorting centre where I see colleagues. I now work 32 hours a week instead of 20 and earn more, so that’s also an advantage.”
“In the area where I mostly work there aren’t many female drivers. I’m a small woman, most people expect a big man. Most customers are surprised when they see me step out of the cabin. But in a nice way.”
We use the absenteeism rate and recordable accidents rate to measure the health and safety of our people. Over the course of 2019, absenteeism was below the levels of 2018, at 5.4% (2018: 5.9%). We believe our increased focus on employee retention and onboarding, as well as working to improve working conditions in our parcel sorting and delivery centres, has helped to lower the absenteeism rate.
During 2019 we implemented a number of initiatives to help lower absenteeism, and help speed up the reintegration process after a period of absence. We achieved this by providing training on absenteeism prevention to our operational managers and HR business partners. We also introduced coaches at our head office to provide psychological support for anyone who needed it, and provided information sessions on psychological absenteeism.
Our recordable accident ratio declined in 2019 to 4.2 (2018: 4.7), as we focused on initiatives that raise awareness of health and safety across the organisation. While the decline is positive, we continue our work to improve it even further.
Despite our ongoing focus on safety, it is with regret that we have to report three occupational fatal accidents (2018: two). The three fatalities, which included civilians and people who work with or for us, occurred in traffic accidents, involving our own vehicles and those of our delivery partners. These events are tragic and we remain determined to prevent fatalities.
In the summer of 2019 an orange alert was put in place across the Netherlands due to extremely high temperatures. This made it difficult for those working in operational roles across the company, which is why we introduced a number of additional measures to protect the well-being of our people.
We advised mail deliverers not to deliver between noon and 14:00, the hottest period of the day, and gave them the option to deliver in the evening from Tuesday to Friday. They were also advised to take extra drink breaks and re-usable water bottles have been provided to all mail deliverers.
At our Parcels' sorting and delivery centres, extra breaks were introduced during the hottest moment of the day, while deliverers could choose themselves when to take an extra break. We also bought over 280 new vans with air conditioning in 2019, making the delivery process more comfortable for van drivers.
During the course of 2019 we made changes to our transport policy, introducing a €2.95 surcharge on parcels that weigh above 23 kg. Our aim is to cut the number of overweight parcels from our network, helping to reduce the impact heavy lifting has on our sorters and deliverers. In specific cases we have made one-on-one agreements with customers, with one now splitting their heavy parcels into two parts. This policy applies to all new contracts, with standing contracts respected until their end date.