Our deliverers are the face of PostNL in every street, every day, and they are the ones who experience the effects of changes to our processes and systems. Listening to our people and adapting to their needs is vital if we are to learn as an organisation, and help them feel appreciated.
On 1 February 2020, the postal networks of PostNL and Sandd became one, with mail across the Netherlands being delivered by a single, strong country-wide postal network. As director of Mail in the Netherlands, Resi Becker is responsible for the integration. She talks to Annemiek van Hoek-van Overdam, who made the transition from Sandd to PostNL.
Resi has experienced many changes at PostNL. “I never get used to reorganisations. All of the personal stories, in this case especially from Sandd employees, continue to touch me. It was a necessary step, but this integration impacts many people. Something changed for everyone: for customers, as well as the employees of Sandd and PostNL. This required flexibility from everybody involved.”
Annemiek used to work for Sandd and started at PostNL on 1 February 2020. While she heard that a number of colleagues had problems with the schedule they were offered, for Annemiek it was not a problem. “We did our best to ensure that the integration went well,” explains Resi. “But it was a complex puzzle. Internally it was mainly a lot of planning. We had to make new work schedules for so many people, not just the new colleagues from Sandd. It was not always possible to honour the individual wishes of everyone.”
PostNL had to consider many different interests and expectations. “But the customer remains central. The integration was needed to help us maintain a a reliable, accessible and affordable postal service to offer our customers the quality that they expect from us. So, while the integration did impact former Sandd customers, we managed to make the change as smooth as possible, while still maintaining high-quality delivery. And while customers from Sandd did see changes, we have had a lot of contact with them to discuss the impact. Despite it being a puzzle, I am happy that we have taken this step. And I am happy with all the new colleagues who now work with us."
Job offers to Mail deliverers:
11,000 Mail deliverers (around 4,000 accepted)
Other employees applying with priority:
1,800 employees (around 300 welcomed)
Continued agreements with social work places:
25 social workplaces (around 500 employees)
175 tours on sorting sites, 13 job fairs, 50 consulation hours and 30,000 calls through specially designed call centre
New business customers:
Close to 4,000 customers
Extra clients for collect and/or delivery service:
Around 2,000 clients
Employee engagement remained unchanged at 65% in 2019, while employee loyalty also remained unchanged at 88%. We are proud that we implemented many important changes while maintaining the engagement of our people. In 2019, we changed the way we ask our people for feedback, collaborating with a new external service provider to help us better measure and improve our employee engagement. We changed our methodology to obtain more accurate information on the drivers that keep employees engaged with the company, and those that help them maintain fun and energy in their job. This has changed over the last decade, especially on how to attract and engage younger generations, which is why we have updated our approach.
In order to be able to better steer on our employee feedback, we decided to carry out our employee surveys twice a year starting from 2019. This enables us to take follow up actions already throughout the year. This resulted in the share of engaged employees increasing from 73.5% in May to 79.8% in October, which is close to the benchmark figure in the Netherlands of 81.5%. Feedback about the new system has been positive, with employees noting that the questions are more connected to their work situation and are easier to answer.
During the course of 2018 we redefined our purpose and the principles that guide our behaviour: what we do, the customer experience we aim for and how we work together to realise this. In 2019, we started rolling out a series of trainings and events to strengthen this message.
Senior management was coached on the behavioural elements included in the compass, so that they could create a better work environment for their teams. We ran ambassador sessions and training exercises, helping our people better connect with PostNL's goal of being our customers' favourite deliverer. And we integrated the orange compass behaviours into our business learning and leadership development programmes.
Every quarter we recognise colleagues from across the company who have carried out outstanding customer service by presenting them with a CustomerFocus award. As well as recognising the receiver's contribution to great customer service, the award also helps inspire others. Two of those recognised in 2019 helped our customers in very different ways.
A mail deliverer helped ensure that funeral cards which were missing envelopes could be delivered by tracking down the sender, helping a family at a very difficult time. A customer service representative called the emergency services when a customer she was chatting with became unwell. The customer, who is recovering after a visit to the hospital, called the representative to express their gratitude.
Over the last few years we have evaluated collaboration between delivery partners and our parcel deliverers to identify improvement areas. In 2019, 43% (2018: 43%) of our delivery partners and almost 38% (2018: 36%) of their deliverers took part in the survey. The results showed that 52% (2018: 51%) of the delivery partners and 66% (2018: 63%) of the parcel deliverers are (highly) satisfied with the collaboration with PostNL. The main areas for improvement relate to communication (primarily on routes and compensation), workload and process improvements.
Diversity and inclusion is an integral element of PostNL. We are a reflection of society and we want to be a company our customers can identify themselves with. We focus on creating a work environment where everyone feels safe and is provided with development opportunities to maximise their potential. Our diversity policy is structured around six key themes: gender equality, multicultural diversity, acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ group, age differentiation, diversity in thinking power and helping people regain access to the labour market.
In 2019, Dutch law makers voted to bring in a 30% quota for the number of women on listed companies’ supervisory boards. We already comply with this, with the percentage of women in our Supervisory Board 43% at year end.
With a great variety of nationalities working at PostNL, we offer a range of training courses. These include multicultural craftsmanship, intercultural communication and the newly developed diversity dive. These courses increase mutual understanding and create greater cohesion within the company. We also look at multicultural diversity through our mobility programmes and management development programmes, with the aim of attracting more multicultural talent and better aligning the recruitment of our traineeships. When we do identify intercultural issues, internal specialists work on a case-by-case basis to address those.
Three networks are active within PostNL. The Women Inclusion Network (WIN) has a proven mentoring programme, which includes senior management acting as mentors for talented and ambitious women. This enables them to strengthen and widen their own network, while the activities organised by the network support retention and allow women to informally discuss their ambitions, thereby helping PostNL with talented women in increasingly senior positions. A new feature is the WIN development programme, in which we help guide talented women along their career path. In 2019, we were presented with the Diamond Award based on our results in the field of gender equality. At year end, 49% of PostNL's workforce were women, while the percentage of women in management positions increased to 22% (2018: 21%). In senior management positions, this is 27% (2018: 25%).
The PRIDE network actively campaigns for greater acceptance of the LGBTIQ+ group. In 2019 PostNL participated in a number of events, including at the annual PRIDE event in Amsterdam. Each year we hold various activities and initiatives that contribute to the acceptance of 'individuality'. The Young PostNL network focuses on young talent within the company, and develops its own events aimed at developing young talent within the company.
We also believe in the importance of knowledge sharing, and actively work as a host with Diversity in Business, Talent to the Top, and Agora, which promotes cultural diversity.
“We focus on creating a work environment where everyone feels safe and has development opportunities to maximise their potential.”
PostNL agrees on labour conditions with trade unions in three different collective labour agreements (CLAs): Mail deliverers, Saturday deliverers and other PostNL employees. In 2019, PostNL agreed a new CLA with the trade unions, which took effect retroactively from 1 January 2019. The CLA sees salaries increase by a total of 3% over 2019 and 2020, with employees also receiving a one-off payment in January 2020. In addition to the CLA, PostNL has also agreed on a Social Plan with all trade unions. This came into force in 2016 and expires at the end of 2020.
In 2019 we also changed the contracting model we use in our parcel sorting centres, to ensure that all sorting staff are paid in accordance with our CLAs. While we consider the old model to be legal, the change means we introduce greater transparency to the public debate about contracting.
During the year we also completed checks into whether our delivery partners pay their deliverers in accordance with our CLA. This was done as part of our focus on being a good employer and to reduce liability.
Our People Development function advises the business on individual and collective development opportunities. We develop initiatives in co-creation with the businesses to stimulate and support learning and performance improvement in line with the critical transformation needs within the company.
In 2019, the main elements covered were agile working, customer experience and digital transformation. We changed our approach to the development of learning from a centrally-developed curriculum to a model where the business has greater control, based on their individual needs. PostNL offers learning and development opportunities for employees at all levels of the organisation, and for all skill sets. For example, we offer language training, logistics college education programmes, as well as leadership and talent programmes.
We use cyclical performance management to help us monitor the development of our employees in a collaborative and transparent way. In 2019, we ran a successful pilot with around 300 employees from different business units, and we used the results to optimise our approach during the year. Based on this, we aim to deploy the new performance management approach in 2020 for employees in scale 5 and above.
To help secure people’s employability, we have created a dedicated learning environment. This online environment, called ‘Mijn Leerplein’, offers content from third-party knowledge providers, to ensure we have a broad and up-to-date range of training courses on offer. We currently offer our people a variety of online development opportunities, which are designed in such a way that employees are able to utilise them anytime and anyplace.
To support anytime and anyplace learning, the expectation is that mobile learning will continue to grow. In 2019 we began a pilot for all new mail deliverers using the Knowingo app, which provides a highly interactive training on mobile devices. We will roll this out for other deliverers in 2020. This will align with the broader trend across society where people increasingly use online platforms and apps that give them greater control over their lives. In 2020 we will also focus on developing digital skills of our workforce, to be fit for the future.
Our annual talent review process is the basis of our leadership and talent management approach. It addresses the performance and potential of our employees on an individual level. Focusing on talent management enables us to retain talent and identify areas to attract (more) talent. After identifying our talent, we develop and challenge them in new jobs and roles, while planning ahead for the needs of key positions. An example of pipeline development is our talent-pool for logistics talent. PostNL also runs traineeships to develop new leadership talent. PostNL employed almost 90 trainees in 2019, with around 25 moving into a position within the company during the year. We expect around 30 new trainees to join the programme in 2020.