3 ways DHL Supply Chain is driving employee retention

LAS VEGAS — DHL Supply Chain has been adopting and deploying various technology initiatives that have helped drive employee retention across its operations, CIO of North America Sally Miller said at the Manifest 2024 conference Feb. 6.

The company tracks its employees acceptance and enjoyment of its automation and technology, said Miller, who is also the company’s global digital transformation officer.

“We do find that they really like it,” Miller said. “Our turnover in these sites where significant technology is applied is much lower.”

She added that there is “lot of recruiting, retention and focus that we have to do to make our associates like where they work and make them as efficient as possible.”

DHL Supply Chain is working with startups and existing vendors to develop products to make the lives of its associates easier and more efficient, which will help the company reduce its labor dependency during peak periods, Miller said.

Here are some of the ways DHL Supply Chain is leveraging technology to optimize its operations and drive employee retention.

By the numbers



The number of supply chain sites DHL operates in



The number of associates DHL Supply Chain manages



The percentage of hourly labor associates


40% to 70% 

The annual turnover rate of DHL Supply Chain associates

1. Data

Huge volumes of data can be leveraged in the warehouse, according to Miller, whether it be through human labor, autonomous solutions or other automation.

“We’re able to write algorithms to look at outputs from that data and make changes based on what is happening in the site on a given day,” Miller said. “There could be issues with the technology deployed, the order drop for the day may be significantly more than was planned, and the ability to turn solutions up and down and move people to the right areas to make that efficient as possible is how we’re going to win the game and how we’re going to be more efficient.”

Some of the ways DHL Supply Chain has leveraged data include optimizing its backhaul transportation processes and optimizing its returns network from customer initiation to product disposal. Miller added that the company’s work for some small-to-medium enterprises in a specific geography will be “complete end-to-end supply chain activities from planning all the way to final delivery.”

2. Warehouse automation

DHL Supply Chain is focused on automating tasks in the warehouse, and one way is through robots designed to work with humans to “make their work life more enjoyable,” Miller said. She added that the company has worked closely with Locus Robotics to deploy autonomous robots across its fulfillment network, as well as Fox Robotics which builds autonomous forklifts.

Mobile sorting is also one of the newer tools DHL Supply Chain has been deploying across its sites, in addition to autonomous lift trucks and reach trucks.

3. Smart operations

Implementing “smart operations” across its sites is another category that houses a number of solutions for DHL Supply Chain, said Miller. This includes a vision-picking solution from TeamViewer, which uses augmented reality to display a picture of the SKU the user wishes to place.

“There are a lot of varying solutions that we can deploy and one size does not fit all,” Miller said, noting that DHL Supply Chain wants solutions that can be scaled. 

“I would like to see some investment in case-picking solutions,” she added. “A significant profile of our sites for the market verticals that we support are shipping cases and pallets out every day, and this is a much bigger volume.”