About the organisation
FedEx Express is the world's largest express transportation company, providing fast and reliable delivery to more than 220 countries and territories. FedEx Express uses a global air-and-ground network to speed delivery of time-sensitive shipments, by a definite time and date.
What challenges were you trying to address?
As an essential services provider, we faced a multitude of challenges during this difficult time. Above all, ensuring our employees, customers and suppliers were safe and protected was our top priority. Adapting to the new regulations, almost instantly, was a real test. Pressure to serve our existing customers, while supporting the new demands caused by the pandemic, was unique. Balancing this with protecting employees proved challenging in our hubs as the government issued new guidance around social distancing measures and PPE requirements. We also had to ensure that all of our networks around the world were able to continue operating to keep commerce and aid moving.
How did you navigate around remaining open while safely providing services?
Our main priority was to ensure that everyone we worked with felt safe whilst carrying out deliveries for FedEx. To achieve this, we activated our UK National Crisis Management Team (UK-NCMT) who met daily and ensured that all updates were distributed out to the national teams. We also established a forum to channel any questions back through to the business and ensure that we were all approaching the crisis in a safe and consistent way. We had a European EU-NCMT who ensured consistency across all countries within Europe.
Frontline team members and managers worked together to develop a detailed risk assessment that was robust, compliant and practical for the people it impacted. This document helped support our strategic health and safety plan and was fully supported by team members.
Throughout the pandemic, all stations and hubs were supplied with PPE which included gloves, hand sanitisers, anti-bacterial wipes and washable face masks. We made sure team members had these in abundance and PPE was delivered on a weekly basis. We introduced social distancing in all locations, including canteens and breakout areas – 2-metres was marked out using floor tape to help team members follow the social distancing rule. We also changed the process of delivering goods, so that our drivers no longer required a signature from customers. Instead, the driver verbally took the customer’s name and wrote ‘C19’ in the signature area. We regularly conducted driver assessments, so that tasks which required working in close proximity were reviewed, and control measures adopted, to ensure that our team members were kept safe at all times.
Within weeks of the pandemic we were able to set 2,760 team members up to work from home, delivering laptops and desktops to ensure a smooth transition to remote working – I’m pleased to say that team members are still working safely from home today. We built procedures that fit the different functions of our business, considering the environment that they were in and ensuring that team members could reduce any risk, as far as practically possible.
The logistics industry has performed superbly during this difficult time and I'm not just putting that down to FedEx, although of course we've done exceedingly well. We've managed to keep everything going, and it's made a significant, positive impact to the UK during this time of crisis.— Ed Clarke, Managing Director UK Hub Operations, FedEx Express
How did you support your employees?
The FedEx philosophy and culture puts the safety and welfare of our team members first, which gave us a solid basis to work from throughout the crisis. Team members trusted their NCMT to make the right decisions to ensure that they could continue working in a safe environment. We have a culture of strong and trusted communications, which allowed us to communicate effectively to all team members ensuring they were kept up-to-date every step of the way. I believe that a strong people-centric culture and clear and open communication are the two most critical ingredients for success in any crisis.
The collaboration across functions was phenomenal and allowed us to move quickly and efficiently. We communicated to team members about a host of key issues, from sick pay, health & safety measures to holiday allowance. For our vulnerable team members who were unable to work from home, we ensured that they were all protected and supported during this period of uncertainty. Following the announcement that the government was temporarily closing schools, we communicated pay and leave processes for team members who had children at school to support them in finding alternate childcare. We also quickly distributed letters for childcare provision for our key workers.
We established a procedure for someone presenting COVID symptoms, supplying this to all managers through a central reporting repository. This meant that we could track cases and manage the health and safety of all team members in that location. During this period we have made sure that all employees received full pay if forced to isolate.
Above all, we ensured that every action and decision we made had the welfare and wellbeing of our team members as the top priority – this was highlighted when Unite the Union publicly referenced FedEx an example of best practice.
What have your results been?
A business that has continued to operate and helped keep the economy moving during exceptionally difficult circumstances. Our robust network has ensured that we’ve been able to continue to support our customers, whether it be distributing COVID-19 relief or facilitating the flow of goods and commerce.
We have collaborated with governments, charities and NGOs, and have been touched by the positive feedback we have received from the organisations we are supporting. We have been on the front line of the relief efforts, prioritising the handling of medical and humanitarian supplies for our customers and non-profits, while supporting other existing customers. We have protected our customers’ base volumes to the greatest extent possible, demonstrating our continued business partnership. This is especially important to the millions of small businesses who depend on us.
Above all, we’ve been able to keep our team members safe, either by transitioning to a remote working set up or by implementing social distancing measures for our delivery drivers and hub workers, while providing PPE to every single member of our team.
What advice would you give to other businesses looking to do something similar?
Make sure your employees’ health and safety is at the forefront of every decision you make. It is important to recognise that everyone’s situation is different and, as employers, we must look after their mental and physical wellbeing, any way that we can.
Communication is central to this response; you cannot communicate enough. Both our working and personal environment was rapidly changing on a daily, if not hourly, basis as the UK went into lockdown. This meant that daily communications with the NCMT and our wider network was absolutely essential. Given the global nature of our business, we had to ensure that there was a consistent and transparent approach to protect the health and safety of our team members.