DB Schenker

How DB Schenker rewrote the playbook on their frontline health, safety and quality communications strategy with Heads Up in SafetyCulture.

DB Schenker

DB Schenker is a global industry leader with 150 years of logistics and supply chain management experience. They move commercial and trade freight around the world via a multimodal service, including: land, air, ocean and contract logistics. They challenge the status quo by aiming for economic, social and environmental harmony. 

The company currently employs 75,000 people globally, with 1,800 of these based within their UK and Ireland cluster. Across the UK and Ireland the scale of their operations is immense, with 28 facilities, including a head office at London Heathrow. 

By the nature of the business they have a highly dispersed workforce, with frontline employees operating in many teams across the cluster. This presents a challenge in communicating key safety, quality, security and environmental messages effectively to their frontline. 

Since 2017, DB Schenker have been actively using the SafetyCulture platform in the UK and Ireland cluster and the tool has become an essential part of their management system. They use SafetyCulture for audits, incident reporting and most recently internal communications through Heads Up.

We spoke to Tiffany Argent, QSHE Cluster Lead Manager, about the importance of consistent, standardized and liquid communication for DB Schenker. And with this in mind, how Heads Up rewrote the playbook on her existing strategy.

The poster problem 

Tiffany and her team of four are responsible for maintaining the quality, health, safety environment, wellbeing, and sustainability strategy and programs throughout the UK and Ireland cluster. They also have a key role to play in maintaining the company’s ISO certifications. These include: ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001

All of this means that Tiffany needs to keep her dispersed team up to date on policy changes and send out rapid communications to keep them safe and effective everyday. She highlights that “We need to ensure that everybody has the same information, particularly from a safety perspective, so that we have standardized ways of working. We are one team with one goal”.

Up until now, communications were being done via email to team leads and through posters. The challenge this presented was the reliance on members of staff to read and action requests to ensure everyone in the team received the message. This process was impacting the QSHE team’s ability to work proactively to prevent health, safety and or quality issues through training and communications. 

Getting the message ‘right’

The QSHE team had long been plagued with the fear their messages were not being heard or acknowledged due to employees’ time constraints and equipment access. With a percentage of the frontline having no access to emails it was hard to reach the right people with the right message at the right time. 

Heads Up, is a one-stop messaging broadcast center was piloted by DB Schenker. The feature allows organizations to record short videos or image-based messaging and send them out to team members at the click of a button. Teams are able to receive and view engaging content and acknowledge they have understood the message.  

This new feature has offered up an alternative to email and or posters for DB Schenker. Not only are they using it to send out health and safety related advice they are also sending reminders for security vigilance and environmental awareness across their sites. The tool is critical to continuing their COVID-19 response with staff. Throughout the pandemic they have been able to disseminate safety advice and protocols to keep everyone on the ground safe. From manual handling to trip hazards, they have been able to make sure the right people are getting the right messages. Tiffany believes that with Heads Up the “opportunities are endless”. 

The medium is the message

The team at DB Schenker uses Heads Up in combination with some of their more traditional methods such as email and Twitter. But most importantly for Tiffany, their new way of sending internal communications via Heads Up is “short, snappy and sweet” compared to their alternate methods. 

In particular, her team leverages the visual aspect of the feature, minimizing text to ensure the message gets through even if someone is simply listening to it. Their minimal text approach also supports frontline employees across the cluster whose first language is not English. Despite the language barrier the message still gets across due to the visual media aids that DB Schenker uses to distribute their message. 

They also leverage their internal staff to deliver video messaging in a personal, direct and peer to peer communication style. Heads Up allows them to improve the visibility of who is opening and receiving the message. This new feature gives the frontline employee the capacity to acknowledge their receipt and understanding of the message.  

“I love the tool, very visual and user friendly as opposed to reading a document!”

Frontline worker, DB Schenker

Frontline feedback

And as for the frontline, they were initially hesitant of this new way of working, but they have quickly recognized its value. Even suggesting to their management and QSHE team what they would like to see Heads Up messages about. This level of engagement with the feature has meant messages are resonating better and are easier to recall. 

SafetyCulture created the Heads Up feature to engage the frontline with the issues and messages that should matter to them most. They are proactively approaching the QSHE team with ideas, issues and actions. Tiffany expressed “it’s nice to see that a feature as simple as this has made a difference to the frontline”. 

For Tiffany, Heads Up is “simple, efficient and engaging” and she has been able to reinforce key messaging to her teams again and again. She also feels it is showing the frontline that her team and DB Schenker are not sitting back but taking action to ensure the workplace is safe for all their employees. 

Overall, the QSHE team is excited to see how Heads Up use cases develop across DB Schenker, praising the continual development of SafetyCulture as a tool.

“I don’t think it [the SafetyCulture platform] will ever sit on its laurels and be done”

Tiffany Argent
QSHE Cluster Lead Manager, DB Schenker

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