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DHL Express expands Cincinnati Works job-coaching at CVG hub to attract and keep good employees

'We want our employees here to know that we care'
DHL Express hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. The large building has white panels and a yellow and red DHL sign.
Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 17:45:22-04

ERLANGER, Ky. — With 4,500 employees and plenty of open positions at its CVG hub, the DHL Express leadership team decided they needed more than competitive wages and benefits to attract and retain good people to work there.

That’s why the company decided to bring job coaching services to the workplace, said Angie Rece, senior human resources director for DHL’s CVG hub.

“We just realized that our employees have some things going on outside of work that might be barriers to them being able to come to work and being productive when they’re at work and really keeping their jobs,” Rece said. “What we wanted to do was provide some resources that would complement the resources we provide.”

DHL started a pilot program about a year ago with Cincinnati Works, a nonprofit focused on helping people lift themselves out of poverty through employment. The results have been so good, Rece said, that DHL is expanding to have two Cincinnati Works coaches on-site.

“We got such great feedback from our employees that we want to expand and actually have a coach on-site during our a.m. shift, our day shift, and our p.m. night shift,” she said. “That way we have resources here for all of our employees and we can expand past just the pilot phase.”

Angie Rece is pictured in the hallway of the DHL Express hub at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. She has long, blonde hair and is wearing glasses and a black top with a small floral print.
Angie Rece

It’s a benefit that a growing number of companies across Greater Cincinnati have begun to offer, and it falls right in line with the recommendations of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Workforce Innovation Center.

“I think, right now, companies recognize that in order to attract and retain the talent that they need to provide their goods and services that they have to be a desirable employer,” said Audrey Treasure, executive director of the Workforce Innovation Center.

Good pay and benefits are an important part of that equation, she said, but they aren’t the only factors employees consider.

“Employees report that when they believe their employers are investing in them and helping them be successful, that that makes them like working for that employer,” Treasure said. “It’s not just being supported. Part of having a coach is that they know they won’t be penalized when life occurrences happen.”

‘A quick jump ahead’

Those life occurrences can be a car that breaks down, a snafu with child care or any number of problems that can interfere with an employee’s ability to be their most productive at work, said Justin Tucker, a Workforce Connection coach for Cincinnati Works who has been working with DHL employees.

When employees talk to Tucker about those problems, he connects them with the community resources they need to overcome them.

“It looks like anything from connection to mental health resources to connection to community services,” Tucker said. “Resume building for job advancement, assistance with housing, childcare. It kind of really runs a wide spectrum of things that we help with.”

If employees are burdened with past medical debt, for example, they can get behind on car payments or struggle to make car repairs or even get behind on rent.

“It’s really difficult for someone to balance all that,” Tucker said. “You kind of get into this survival mode of I gotta get to work, I need to get my kids to child care. I need to make these really hard decisions on this next paycheck, like how am I going to parse this out to get caught up with these other things.”

Justin Tucker is smiling in this portrait. He has a full, red beard and mustache and short-cropped hair. He's wearing glasses, a blue shirt and a gray tie with a gray sweater and dark blazer.
Justin Tucker

The region has many community resources to help address those problems, he said, but it can be complicated and time consuming to figure out which program can help, what each program’s eligibility requirements are and how to apply.

Coaches from Cincinnati Works, he said, can look at the details of each employee’s situation and help connect them more quickly to the programs and resources that can provide help.

“It’s, you know, giving them a quick jump ahead,” he said. “To where they’re not having to spend so much time and mental resources to access and figure out.”

Attracting – and keeping – employees

The key is not to tell employees what to do, Tucker said. Instead, coaches talk with employees about the roadblocks that are getting in the way of their goals and then help employees map out the best ways to navigate those roadblocks.

“It’s a very collaborative process of, you know, I’m here to listen to what your needs are,” he said. “And then I’m just here to present how I can support your needs to reach your end and your goals and whatever success looks like to you.”

DHL has seen an improved retention rate among employees who have gotten coaching from Tucker and Cincinnati Works, Rece said, and employees have shared personal stories about how the program has improved their lives and well-being.

“The other piece to this is not only helping our employees overcome the challenges they face in their day-to-day life, but it also gives them some resources to advance their careers,” she said. “So if they need help with interviewing, if they need help building a resume. Just understanding how to navigate some of those things.”

DHL believes having job coaches on-site gives the company an edge when hiring in today’s competitive labor market, Rece said.

This photo shows the inside of DHL Express operations with many levels of conveyor belts and stairs.
Inside DHL Express operations.

“We want to attract employees. We want our employees here to know that we care about them, and we want to keep them,” Rece said. “We want to help remove some of those barriers that keep people from being able to come to work.”

Tucker said he’s convinced more employers will see the service as an important benefit in the years to come.

“DHL certainly sees it,” he said. “And I think other employers are going to continue to see that when you have a place for employees to go work with someone to address these – again – normal life challenges, that they’re gonna have better employees, because they’re not carrying the weight of these things on their back.”

More information about Cincinnati Works is available online.

More information about job openings at the DHL CVG hub is available online, too. Starting pay ranges from $17 per hour to $20 per hour, depending on the shift and health benefit needs.

Lucy May writes about the people, places and issues that define our region – to celebrate what makes the Tri-State great and shine a spotlight on problems we need to address. Poverty is an important focus for Lucy and for WCPO 9. To reach Lucy, email lucy.may@wcpo.com. Follow her on Twitter @LucyMayCincy.

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