Thu, Apr 03, 2008
Morale Down As CEO Tilton's Profits Are Climbing
A recent employee survey conducted
by United Airlines confirms what the airline's pilots and other
employees have been expressing to CEO Glenn Tilton and his
executives over the past several years: that the airline has
neglected its employees for too long.
According to the United chapter of the Air Line Pilots
Association, record number of employees participated in this year's
biennial survey to tell United Airlines management the same thing
employees tell them every day: they don't trust, respect or have
any faith in the management of United Airlines.
"The survey was called an 'Employee Climate Survey.' Well, the
climate is cold, cloudy and frigid," said MEC Chairman Captain
Steve Wallach. "And the forecast is for more of the same or
In releasing the results of the survey, United stated, "(We want
to compare ourselves to other) Fortune 500 companies whose employee
experience we aspire to achieve."
The following highlights -- or lowlights, depending on your
perspective -- of the survey reveal the nation's second-largest
carrier has a long way to go to reach that level, according to
- United claims that employee engagement remained "stable" from
the survey conducted two years ago. In truth, engagement is low and
getting lower -- 29 percent today vs. 30 percent in 2006.
- Employee engagement with the company was from one to eight
percentage points lower in nearly all operating divisions. United's
pilots and flight attendants had the largest decline in company
engagement. Nine out of 10 pilots feel no connection with United
- United claims that employee "Pride in United" remains the
highest scored item, but even those numbers dropped significantly
from two years ago. This year's survey shows that only 38 percent
of United employees take pride in United, down 15 percentage points
from 2006. Average Fortune 500 companies find that 84 percent of
their employees express pride in the company in which they work.
Put another way, 62 percent of United's employees are not proud of
their company, 70 percent are dissatisfied with their jobs, 73
percent are looking for new jobs and 77 percent do not think United
is a great place to work.
"Time will tell whether United's executives will use the results
from this survey in a positive way," said Wallach. "If history
is any indication, this survey was simply window dressing;
management's way of making the employees believe they are taking
steps to address our concerns and our frustrations. Their slogan
was 'You speak. We listen. Together we act.' In reality it is more
like, 'You speak. We don't care. Get used to it.' As long as the
employees are treated as commodities, they will act as commodities
-- something this management has failed to grasp. Neglecting
employees is a recipe for disaster in the service industry.
"The employees' voices have been expressed loud and clear. The
message they have delivered is unmistakable: United Airlines'
management is failing the very people who make the airline fly. And
their message begs the question: How will Glenn Tilton and his
executives respond? The employees, our passengers and United's
investors are waiting for their answer."
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