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The issue of employee retention and satisfaction has become a central source of headache for managers and investors in the world (Jack et al 2003). The universally inherent dilemma on which way to go between employee retention and adoption of newer teams of staff has not spared the airline industry. Airline human resource managers have found themselves at a cross road in this regard. Indeed, it has been noted that employees are hard to please and motivate and companies must seek newer ways to approach employees and productivity in general. In employee satisfaction, major concern has been the need to address issues of how communication between employees and management be improved be improved for high productivity's sake. To fully understand these prevailing issues in human resource, this informative academic paper will explore the Airline Industry with a bias on the United Airline Company.
Indeed, the success of United Airlines, like many consultants and studies aver, depend entirely on the manner in which communication is effective between employees and the top management. In the words of Jack et al (2003), communication ushers motivation through enabling employees to understand what is required of themselves for task assigned. This further culminates to perfect execution of work among employees leading to high productivity.
United airlines was formed on April 6th, 1926 by mail carrier as Varney Airlines but was purchased a year later by William Boeing in 1929 who renamed it. There was a struggle that resulted in the division of membership of Boeing Empire which resulted in three different organizations, a parts supplier, manufacturer and airline group called United Airlines. Currently, United Airlines operates in Chicago and it has greatly grown, it offers 650 departures daily. It is considered one of the main airlines in United States. Assuming that you have been appointed as a consultant with the main objective of facilitating communication between the employees and upper management and also advise on the best way to ensure fast new brand recognition.
The second area of concern has become how the company can ensure that through its employees, customers become loyal to the airline. It is universally agreed that customer loyalty is one of the coveted achievements for any organization. The prevailing thought in this concept is that, once employee needs are addressed, productivity is high and thus customer satisfaction is assured. Once the needs of customers are satisfied, it follows that they will be loyal to the airline. Quality management becomes another ingredient in ensuring customer satisfaction which will ultimately lead customer loyalty.
The attainment of any company's set goals and achievements becomes the foundation upon which future successes are dependent. Once employees understand the objectives and goals of a business or organization, they are able to work towards ensuring that these goals are met. Indeed, the success of any company will depend objectively on the manner in which the company employees understand the corporate objectives (Jennifer 2005). These objectives are normally summarized as the company vision. There is need for employees in the United Airlines to be informed fully of the company's corporate goals so that they do not overemphasize on their personal and individual gratification.
While it is good to state at this point in time that retaining employees is an important aspect for businesses in the 21st century, there is need for companies like United Airline to understand how they can ensure that employees are motivated and retained in the business. Employee retention and motivation is a very vital practice in normal business operations as it makes sure that the business is in position to retain its valuable labor as well business knowledge and secrets. There is need for United Airline to take stock on what its employees feel generally about their work, their complaints and wishes to keep their motivation at reach. Again there is need to understand what brand marketing techniques can be employed to help the business market its new products to its customers, (Jennifer 2005). Marketing products effectively results in brand recognition and ultimately customer loyalty. It is therefore important for a company to understand the best advertising techniques to employ.
Employee Retention; The Positive Perspective
Effective Organizational Communication
For a company to have an effective communication culture that will ultimately lead to high productivity, experience of the existing systems is very vital (Jennifer 2005). New employees may lack the tack and the experience that retained employees enjoy. It is this experience that cultivates among employees the order and the best effective communication channels and media for every relevant issue within an organization. Retained employees tend to be more open to each other and allow for smooth vertical and horizontal communications that are work out well for any organization. New employees tend to be scared of managers and may take to long communicate effective due to fear and other social-psychological factors, (Jack et al 2003)..
Communication between the employees and the upper level management may be caused by fear. Some of the employees may fear to approach their bosses' assistance. Other possible cause of this kind of poor communication is laziness, this results when the employee does not want to be delegated jobs. The communication channel in the organization may not encourage the employee and those in the top level of management to communicate directly. Glassman M. explains that free communication within the members of staff enhance the process of decision making. It provides the information that individuals and groups need to make decisions by transmitting the data to identify and evaluate decisions (Jennifer 2005)
In case like the United Airlines, retention of employees will ensure that effective communication between employees and the customers is assured. Retained employees have the experience needed to effectively choose the appropriately manner of communicating to customers. All communication campaign ought to entail clear and measurable objectives. To achieve the stated objectives it is important to have a careful planning for the campaign (Ann 1992). This careful planning is only possible when experienced employees are retained.
Employee retention in United Airlines will ensure that strategic ad campaigns are designed and executed accurately. Retained employees are exposed to the few elements that are fundamental in ensuring that an ad campaign strategy becomes profitable to the targeted market. An appropriate medium is very vital since it will convey the Airline's sales campaign effectively. Even though this looks an obvious thing, new employs will miss the point in selecting the best medium of communication, (Ann 1992). One should bear in mind the category of people the ad is directed to.
Secondly, one should not conclude that people have similar likes and dislikes in the channel of communication to be adopted. It is important to note that what seems interesting to a certain person is precisely not to another. For instance, it is wrong to assume that just because the people one has met read newspapers, then everybody else does. Good communication strategies, which are assured once employees are trained and retained, will develop a good relationship with the customers and prospects towards winning customer loyalty (Ann 1992).
Effective and Experienced Employees
Employee retention allows companies to have a staff team of people who have been around the job and are experienced. Employees are in constant training making them learn more about the job and the manner in which they can better it. There is need for a company to adopt employee retention since experienced workers are able to inform and help in the designing and implementation of a strategic plan. The need for strategic planning has been increasing not only in airline industry but across all major industries of the world, (Jack et al 2003).
Retained employees, as Cascio (2005) observes, remain an asset to the organization since learned skills are stored in them and can be used to train newer employees. Employee retention does allow for effective on-the-job training when newer employees are attached to them. In fact, they act as living proof of the company's ability to grow and potentiality to grow. They are a great source of advice.
Coaching for Productivity
Like many organizations in a world, airline industry has been a victim of globalization and technological changes. As such the concept and practice of employee coaching and mentoring is being influenced by trends of work, dynamic technology and organizational growth. Mentoring has been defined as a relationship between an experienced and a less experienced person in which the mentor provides guidance, advice, support, and feedback (Cascio 2005)
Mentoring nowadays is used as a method of helping new employees to adapt to new organizational culture, enhance personal and career development as well as avail new opportunities for employees traditionally engulfed in organizational barriers (Armstrong 2006). Its benefits are not limited to work but can provide employees with opportunities for cultural awareness, appreciation, and the potential high performance (Jack et al 2003). A typical model is the apprentice learning from a skilled source. In the archaic days, it focused on career advancement within the larger organizational hierarchies but now the focus has shifted to other personal objectives.
Mentors work well if employees who have been on the job are made to be the immediate superiors of the new employees. In this case, employee retention becomes the greatest idea and source of the expertise needed to mentor and coach newer employees at a lower or no cost at all. Coaching, in itself, is very specific for passing of skills to the employee. It is defined as a transfer of skills and a one on one development of the trainee's own knowledge and thought process (Armstrong 2006). It gives more emphasizes to the development of employee and group skills by creating an environment which encourages and uplifts the coachee morale. Coaching is more on personal levels and is repeatedly undertaken until the desired results are achieved.
While retained employees are the source of the expertise for mentoring and coaching it important for managers to understand what kind of engagement a particular event of coaching requires. It is generally agreed that executive coaching takes place more in meetings which can span several minutes to several hours, they can be formal or informal gatherings, these can be over the course of a couple of sessions to spanning year (Armstrong 2006).
A Tool for Expansion through Strategic Business Units (SBU)
As company expands to explore newer markets, there is need to use experienced workers in the new market location since they are experienced and well versed with the details of their job specifications, (Ravi 2009). This would not be the case of newer employees are to be employed. In expanding into newer markets and products, companies are adopting the concept of strategic business units (SBU). In strategic business units, newer units are set up from the main company that operate as independently taking responsibilities for all loses and glory of profits. Success of every unit adds up to that of the main company. SBUs can be product, market or geographically based.
Ease of Dealing with Technological Change
The emerging technologies have undoubtedly changed the manner in which the Airline industry and its clientele run their daily activities as we approach the 21st century (Ravi 2009).. Being a stepping stone to globalization and a sharpener for any nation's competitive edge, as Ravi (2009) aver, the technologically driven Airline services have been the craving for every company in this industry. And the United Airlines has not been left behind. Today, clients of United Airlines have access to online services irrespective of their locality, and their financial transactions, insofar as the technologically driven billing and checking system is concerned, can only be limited by their own imaginations. The penetration of the technology into the airline industry has been through the internet where clients are able to book and even pay for their travel fares and bills. This technologically driven airline services has ultimately made airline services more sophisticated and thus raised the expectations of customers (Bernard 2009).
According to Bernard (2009), the effect varies across the two divides: the airlines and the customers. The airline staff, like those in United Airlines, has been made to re-strategize and beef up their skills in tandem with the demands of the new technology. Embracing technology has become inevitable for the airlines in the USA and the entire world since it cuts short the costs of staffing, sharpens an airline's competitive edge and ushers it on a newer platform of efficiency. Customers have been more inclined to using these technologically defined services since they are fast, easily accessible and are not limited by any popular spatial-temporal factors. People can pay for airline bills, do shopping and perform various transactions through these technological platforms (Bernard 2009).
The forces driving the changes in airline industry are both industry and market based. The major one is the changing airline customer tastes and preferences propelled by the 21st century consumer dynamics. Currently, the high level of consumer awareness, growing economic power and the availability of internet at homes has really changed the consumption patterns of airline information not only in America but the entire world. Information is now available at the click of a button and many expectations will be met by technology (Bernard 2009). Technology is relatively cheap and gives access to global information and therefore airline clients find it advantageous to visit the internet for airline booking and related information. The industry itself has also gradually evolved to pave way for collaborations and information sharing through the web technology where stakeholders can share information as well as disseminate to colleagues.
To ensure that an airline keeps pace with the challenges of emerging technologies, there is need for it to ensure that its staff is kept abreast with these changes. Taking in new employs will be expensive compared to training the available staff on the fundamentals of new technologies an airline seeks to embrace, (Jennifer 2005). Training existing staff will allow for the combination of the old and the new systems. This juxtaposition of information systems will allow employ to detect areas of weaknesses in both systems. The identification of these faults will inform future innovations and renovations to ensure that excellent technological tools are designed.
The impact of technology through the internet on the airline industry is real and unstoppable giving few options to the industry players to adopt the same. Management must therefore prepare to embrace this and adapt to the modern practice through training and retaining employs lest they find themselves obsolete. Retained employs have already set precedence and know that they are expected to take proactive approach to the airline's goals by availing as much information as possible through the development of websites loaded with information needed by the clients, (Jennifer 2005).
Maintaining customer loyalty is another problem that that the company is currently facing. It may be caused by poor customer relations, low quality services, high cost for their services and unreliability of their services. Once a company has attained customer loyalty, the possibility of its fast growth is high because it will now be investing resources on marketing to attain more customers for its business. A firm that practices this, it should be price sensitive as the customers may be tempted to switch to those suppliers who are charging low prices, leading to reduction in the level of their revenues (Jack et al 2003).
The corporate vision of any organization is a vital tool in the business and need to be well understood by every member of the company. Some employees may not understand the meaning of this tool because of various reasons; poor communication by the management, ignorance and failure to attach the interest that is required (Jack et al 2003). These kinds of people will always be pulling the organization down as long as the others are striving to achieve the objectives. The organization needs to treat these people with the seriousness the really deserve. According to Cameroon J. a corporate vision is a picture of where the company wants to be in the future and it's the responsibility of the leaders in corporation with the staff members to develop an effective one (Ann1992: )
United Airlines has the problem of maintaining its employees. Employee retention enables the company to retain its own secrets and keep strengthening its core competencies. Additionally, its expensive to replace an employees in a company where the turnover high as the process will involve, training and orientation into the business which may take quite a long time. The main cause of this problem is lack of employee motivation. Robbins P. tries to define what motivation is, "It is the willingness to do something and it is conditioned by the actions ability to satisfy some need for the individual.
A need, in our terminology, means a physiological and psychological deficiency that makes certain outcome to appear attractive (Cascio 2005: Armstrong 2006).The other cause of high employee turnover is poor rewarding techniques by the employer. Rewards act as the greatest motivation for the employees and hence, the need for the employers to take cautionary measures on they handle it. The most recommended reward system is that which is based on the employee performance. Each employee is rewarded according to how he or she has contributed to the success of the company in general. This is what is referred to as the balanced score card approach to compensation.
Marketing is necessary for the company to gain customer loyalty. In order for the company to market its new product to customers, it needs to invest much of its resources to advertising the product to customers (Cascio 2005: Armstrong 2006). Quality of the product needs to be standardized and acceptable by the customer. This will enable the customers buy and create interest in the product in the future.
Employee Retention; The Negative Perspective
There are negative impacts associated with retaining employees. Some of these negative impacts are discussed in this section.
Exploration of Newer Talents and Skills
Retaining employees denies an organization the opportunity explore newer talents and skills available in the labor market. Retained employees depend entirely on the skills gained from the organization as such lack varied skills that newer employees possess. In the Airline industry for instance, newer entrants in the labor market possess modern skills on customer care, Airline management and generally new ideas that can propel an airline company to heights of success that may not be possible under old and retained employees (Jack et al 2003).
Young people in the modern society are exposed to new and more sophisticated education. As such, they conduct state of the academy researches in the various areas of their profession. This affords them a chance to wholesomely view an industry in a very different yet gratifying manner that old people, already in the industry, may not. There is therefore a need for companies to shed off employees after a certain period in order to take advantage of this new breed of professionals.
Unlike retained employees who are already in the company, say Jack et al (2003), new entrants have the zeal and are willing to try new things. The inherent tendency of 'business as usual' among retained employees exposes a company to many risks in terms of lack of innovative approaches among its employees. The old guards are not willing to adopt changes in policies and procedures. They are used to the old systems and are reluctant to explore newer approaches. It is therefore advantageous for companies not to retain employees in the pretext they are experienced. Experience that is not tampered with innovation and the willingness to explore newer ideas is of no profit to any organization.
United Airlines, therefore, will deny itself a good opportunity to explore the talents and skills of newer airline professionals if it continues to retain the 'old guards'. Indeed, courses in aviation are constantly being redefined and the newer breed of pilots, air hostesses and others are very different from the ones who were employed around 6 to 7 years ago in terms of newer approaches, skills, knowledge and innovation in the multifaceted realm of the airline industry, (Jack et al 2003). However, if the United Airline wants to explore newer talents and skills, there is need for the company to critically examine its general approach to human resource.
Stamina, Zeal and General Approach to Responsibility
Retention of employees breeds laxity, lack of stamina and a lackadaisical approach to responsibility among many employees. Though it is arguable that these professional vices arise due poor human resource management, it is widely accepted that newer teams of employees are more vibrant and enthusiastic. There is a general tendency among employees when assured of long term contracts for them to relax and generally find short cuts in evading their responsibilities, (Jennifer 2005). This greatly impacts of the productivity of a company.
In the airline industry, many cases of poor billing and security issues arise due to employee ignorance. The general tendency to 'sleep-on-the-job' is more among retained employees than it is on new teams of staff. New teams of staff, according Jennifer (2005), are overtly energetic as they seek to impress management and satisfy their own professional goals. They are willing to learn and are focused than their retained counterparts. For United Airline to remain relevant and competitive in this industry, there is need to ensure that newer staff is brought on board regularly as the old teams are carefully weeded off the workers who are not committed and generally lack the stamina to increase their productivity.
To conclude employee retention is both a tool for success and for failure. There is need for a company to closely evaluate its human resource and carefully decide which way to go insofar as retaining them is concerned. Employee retention has become a very important tool for many airline companies. While it is the view of the researcher in this paper that employee retention does more good than harm, it is important to state that the airline industry has one of the most complex type of human resource. The complexity becomes apparent when it is considered that most of the staff relies on its technical knowledge to work.
The advantages of employee retention in the airline industry revolve around experience and service delivery. Retained employees have practical knowledge and skills to serve in their capacities than newer teams that may just have this knowledge and skills in theory. Unless a company is lucky to hire a new staff that has been exposed to the practical operations of an airline company, new teams are generally naïve and lack the experience to fully deliver on technical jobs. It is cheaper for a company to work with its retained team of staff that needs basic training on new applications in the airline industry than it is to work with a completely new team of staff that needs thorough training.
Experienced staff (that has been trained) understands the market and is able to meet high levels of customer satisfaction and marketing new brands and products. Furthermore, retained staff becomes a great source of information and knowledge for new staff employed by an airline company through employee-employee training, coaching and mentoring. Retention also allows a company to use experienced staff when expanding its business through Strategic Business Units and other approaches it deems good.
On the other hand, employee retention is a liability to a company. It denies a company the advantages of exploring new talents and skills available in the labor market. New entrants in the labor market possess modern skills and knowledge about the industry. New teams of staff have been associated with enthusiasm and the willingness to try new ideas unlike the retained staff. Retained staff suffers from the 'old guard syndrome' and a majority of them are perceived as uncommitted. The old guard has been around the company and therefore knows many responsibility evasion tactics.
For the case of the United Airline Company, it is recommended that the company employs a high-brid approach to its human resource. In so doing the company will be able to take advantage of both employee retention and newer teams of staff in equal measure. The company should ensure that employee-employee coaching, mentoring and training takes place between the old guard and the new crop of staff. Generally speaking, with a good management team, employee retention remains a very important tool whose positive role on the general productivity of a company can never be overstated.