The postal service has always been among the first and most important lines of defense throughout history whenever extreme events and crises have threatened the well-being and development of societies. The current coronavirus crisis, which is posing a global threat to humanity, has proven that nothing has changed in this respect.
Due to the severe social, economic and security impacts of the pandemic, a new wave of sensibility and awareness for postal workers is expanding across the globe, bringing them to the forefront of the industry worldwide. They have undoubtedly helped to increase the standard of living during lockdowns across the globe while helping to serve a sense of normality in these unusual times.
In this context, a lot has already been said and written about the indispensability of postal workers. Some postal operators have gone a step further and have appreciated the role of their workforce by rewarding them with extra pay. Others have recognized their value and function in different ways, which might not be enough to salute their contributions.
The pandemic has further revealed the importance of active postal service in such hard periods. Despite the difficult working conditions posed by the coronavirus, postal workers have duly performed their duties in the best possible way.
The vital work they are doing every day is a sincere commitment to society. They deserve all kinds of support and sympathy, which should not be limited to a specific period. Based on their indispensability, it is critically important to remember that investing in the postal logistics workforce is vital for the sustainability of social welfare and public peace. From that point of view, their commitment and sacrifices have proved that serving the public under all conditions, per se, is a real virtue.
The pandemic has also shown the significance of human touch in the postal sector. This is very important as for quite a long time, public institutions like postal services were questioned directly about their relevancy in a time of advanced digitalization and artificial intelligence. Even a short time ago, the idea that delivery robots would or could replace postal workers was at the top of the agenda of the global postal logistic sector.
Current situation worldwide
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, postal operators and logistics companies have immediately started to look for new strategies and business models to cope with the common threat to their businesses. All the strategies and solution proposals that are being developed have given greater prominence and particular attention to some key operational issues that we are familiar with, namely delivery, service network, service quality, products and services, indicating the fact that all these pillars of supply chain depend on a highly motivated and well-trained professional workforce.
For instance, as a sign of appreciation for the role of its workforce during the global crisis Deutsche Post DHL granted a special one-time bonus of 300 euros ($350) to its more than 500,000 employees after strong results in the April-June second quarter of 2020. In his statement, DHL CEO Frank Appel said: "We have navigated our company through this crisis very well so far. We owe this to our committed colleagues worldwide. Only through the tireless efforts of our teams have we managed to keep supply chains up and running and thus maintained the worldwide supply."
In addition to that, DHL Express Europe CEO Alberto Nobis has highlighted the commitment of the workforce during a recent interview given to CEP-Research. "There was a signal that our people needed to have more attention and a more human touch. Having an engaged and motivated workforce is a precondition to achieve all your targets."
"Service is a great story. We had no service disruption and it's amazing how people on the frontline have reacted," he added.
It should be noted, that DHL is committed to further strengthening its position in Turkey through another major investment at Istanbul International Airport, which is one of the biggest European air hubs. "We will continue to invest," Nobis further indicated. This new facility, with an area of over 12,000 square meters (nearly 130,000 square feet) and a capacity of 9,000 units per hour, is a true reflection of how DHL sees the new Istanbul Airport and Turkey's commercial potential. It is therefore important to learn lessons from both the workforce-oriented approach and investments being continuously made in Turkey.
On the other hand, we all have heard similar messages of appreciation from other postal operators and logistics companies. This, of course, has not been limited to Europe. It is happening everywhere in the world, including in Turkey. As an appreciation for their continuous and dedicated efforts during the first phase of the national lockdown, the Turkish Post granted a special one-time bonus of TL 2,000 ($240) to its postal workers and counter clerks who not only kept the supply chain up and running but also remained at nation's entire disposal.
Health care and transportation have been the two top priorities of the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) governments from the very first day. Despite critics, the pandemic has proven that continuous investments in health care and infrastructure are necessary for the sake of the public. Today, Turkey has a unique cross-border reputation for its future-thinking investments in health and transportation with the capacity to respond to crises such as the one we are facing.
In this context, the health and transportation investments over the last two decades are a true legacy for future generations. Moreover, the pandemic also indicates that such investments cannot be considered a waste as critics have claimed but rather as essential investments for the good of the public. The fact that Turkey was able to assist other countries during the pandemic with the supply of PPE is undoubtedly an output of these investments.
The Turkish Post, the biggest single postal logistics network in Turkey, has more than 5,000 post offices and around 45,000 employees providing all kinds of postal and logistics services on a daily basis to 83 million people, meaning billions of transactions a year.
The overreaching role of the postal workers has been progressively given more attention and appreciation by the Turkish nation throughout history. There are even nursery rhymes such as "Bak Postacı Geliyor" ("Here Comes the Postman"), which children love, and are an indication of the society's appreciation for what the postal workers do. This connection between the Turkish community and the postal service has been further reinforced through the commitment of postal workers during the pandemic.
Normally, public institutions need to build a sense of community among everyone no matter who they are and where they serve. However, there is no need to start from zero when it comes to institutions like the Turkish Post. All you need is to first respect and understand the size of the work, which is huge, and therefore strengthen the existing organizational culture, business ethic and ties among all its members. Your network is not just the physical and digital supply chain but also your workforce on the field.
Therefore, you have to understand it truly, make time for it and develop it by investing in them. This is the only way to change your business models, adapt to change, advance your network and adjust acceptance processes as well as delivery capabilities, delivery times, products and services. There is no doubt that this should be considered as an essential building block in the transformation that will enable the Turkish Post to further strengthen its position in the postal and logistics industry.
* Ph.D. candidate at Ankara Yıldırım Beyazıt University
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