Staff retention is a major concern for all companies. In some cases employees leave a company for higher pay elsewhere; more often than not, the deciding factors are access to training, opportunities for advancement, and a clear career path.
As the world's largest package delivery company and leading logistics service provider with operations in more than 200 countries and regions, employing more than 400,000 people globally, United Parcel Service (UPS) knows that staff performance determines the competitiveness of a company. As such, all UPS staff are valued highly and the company's policies intrinsically reflect this.
David Cheung, human resources manager at UPS Hong Kong says, "We have developed policies and an array of programmes aiming at providing staff with quality learning opportunities from orientation programmes to continuous on-the-job training. The focal point is that the knowledge and skills we teach are transferrable. Meanwhile, we seek to establish mutual understanding between management and staff."
The company's extensive business portfolio covers logistics, freight, financial and mail services in the global supply chain, offering promising long-term careers for talented people. "A hallmark of our corporate culture is a promotion-from-within policy," Mr Cheung says. "In general, a UPS manager usually has held various jobs within the company and 95 per cent of our managerial staff were promoted from within. This has positive effects on staff loyalty and morale."
New recruits to a company always encounter a certain level of "cultural shock" and have to go through a period of adjustment. To minimise this, UPS provides orientation training. "The main purpose is to introduce recruits to the company's major functions and corporate philosophy," Mr Cheung explains. "In so doing, our employees share the company's mission and vision."
Part of the company's ongoing training involves coaching by managers. "This plays a critical role in our organisational development," Mr Cheung says. "Many positive results are achieved, from inducting new employees, to speeding up the development of potential employees and reducing turnover." Career development planning meetings are held between managers to identify high performing employees with leadership potential.
To facilitate training, UPS has a corporate school in Singapore and another in Shanghai. The schools offer diverse training programmes and aim to nurture future leaders of the company. He adds, "Under the umbrella of our corporate school there is a manager leadership school and a supervisor leadership school, both focusing on leadership skill training for our staff. Training programmes for interpersonal skills, trade knowledge and compliance are also in place."
Currently, higher education tuition assistance as well as day release and examination leave are offered to staff taking job related programmes organised by external institutions. Prior to enrolment, staff must inform the company of their study plans so as to ensure arrangements are made in a timely fashion. Mr Cheung says. "A more educated workforce is a valuable asset and the company is keen to promote this."
As for where staff retention is concerned, remuneration remains a powerful tool. In light of this, UPS has developed a management incentive plan in which eligible UPS staff receive company shares as part of their retirement protection. "This can help reinforce commitment and build long-term partnerships with staff," Mr Cheung explains.
Transparency is another core element in the human resources policies at UPS. In particular, it enhances a sense of belonging among staff. The company promotes open communication and its staff are well informed about the rationale for company decisions. Mr Cheung notes, "Staff should feel respected and a part of the company."
The increase in trade across borders brought about by globalisation means the logistics industry will enjoy a bright future and UPS believes it offers many exciting opportunities for those interested in the industry. "We are expanding and are always on the lookout for talented people," Mr Cheung concludes.