Employee Development and Retention Term Paper

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Employee Development and Retention

Training, developing and retaining employees in the no-frills airline industry

Preliminaries

In order to better understand the training, developing and retaining problems with which a low-cost airline company is confronted, one should begin by taking a closer look at the latter's specific.

The major characteristics that a low-cost (no-frills) carrier boasts derive from its very denomination which implies providing cheaper air transportation as a result of giving up traditional privileges like free catering during the flight, reservations through travel agents and other similar advantages usually used by high-cost carriers for pampering their clients. In addition to the "frills" above, the policy of low-cost companies also relies on reducing personnel costs. Therefore, employees are often compelled to take over multiple tasks (e.g. despite being a flight attendant, an employee may clean the aircraft or play the role of a gate agent) (http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/low-cost+carrier).Consequently, one of the most impacted departments is the Human Resources one.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Employee Development and Retention Assignment

An edifying example capable of proving the veracity of the latter statement is Delta Airlines. Witnessing the conquest of its traditional markets by low-cost carriers, the American company launched its "Leadership 7.5" strategy aimed at aligning its 10 cent cost per available seat mile with Southwest's 7.5 cent cost. For accomplishing such objective, the company gave up its most talented and loyal employees and replaced them with a much cheaper staff who despite settling for lower salaries lacked in essential skills. The results of Delta's initiative were the corporation's rise in terms of profitability and fall in terms of brand image and credibility in the eyes of consumers. Nowadays, even though the corporation is profitable, the blow received in its reputation continues to send its echoes as the revenue growth rate is said to be behind the rest of the industry. In this context, Snell and Wright's remark concerning the HR managers' role becomes viable: "We guard and preserve strategic capability, people, and values. When we fail to guard these things, our firms fail." (Wright, Snell, 2005).

2. Training and development

Judging by the specific of no-frills airline industry, one could assert that continuous training and development play a major role as employees must usually cope with multiple tasks. Moreover, permanent training is beneficial as it ensures high-quality services, guarantees the capability of rapidly adapting to changes and hinders personnel from leaving the company as these find their activity to be interesting enough for staying with the corporation.

Therefore, one of the main training providers to which a low-cost carrier could resort is IATA. This provides courses perfectly molded over the company's needs and has the major advantage of offering tuition on site. Consequently, corporations should carry out a survey among their employees in order to detect the skills that these would like or need to develop and should also identify the skills gap with which it is or will be confronted. After correlating the two categories, carriers could opt for: Advanced Airline Marketing or Advanced Airline Sales Strategies targeted at the sales staff, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Management teaching personnel how to save costs and, implicitly, make the maintenance activity more efficient, Airline Cabin Crew Training, a useful course teaching entry-level members how to interact with passengers, how to offer medical assistance, how to communicate with the crew members and apply emergency procedures etc. (http://www.iata.org/training/courses/).

One of the most important training modules that a carrier's staff must attend is the Airline Customer Service one and here is why. An airline company is a service provider. Thus, the quality of its offer cannot be tangibly assessed like in the case of goods but it is highly evaluated according to the interaction between staff and customers. In conclusion, 'front-office' employees (ticketing agents, reservations agents, check-in agents, PR personnel, flight attendants) should be taught how to improve their communicational skills, how to handle multicultural environments, how to deal with complaints and so forth (http://www.iata.org/training/courses/).

On the other hand, pilots who represent the very backbone of an airline company should not be neglected either. In this regard, a corporation could resort to the special programs like the MESA Pilot Development Program (http://www.flightcareers.com/)or to courses teaching pilots how to handle crises both technically and psychologically. As terrorism has become a major factor impacting the airline industry after September 11, 2001, such trainings have become increasingly important.

Even though the obvious strength assigned to training and development programs is the improvement of personnel skills and, implicitly, of the quality of services, many argue that the major weakness which derives from tuition is cost. Yet, the latter argument may be contradicted by invoking Delta Airlines which gave up a favorable image in the long run for reducing short-term costs, a thing which finally resulted in a decrease in the number of customers. Therefore, despite their expensive allure, trainings are a sine qua non-to carriers wishing to keep their clients and survive on the market.

3. Retention and career development processes

As no-frills companies strive to keep costs low, these often overlook personnel matters like: stimulatory remunerations, incentives, career development and other similar issues. Because of such omissions, employees become dissatisfied with their current jobs and attracted to new ones within rival companies.

Under these circumstances, the turnover rate becomes a problem as recruitment implies additional costs. Moreover, the new personnel may be lacking in specific skills and this generates supplementary expenses for training purposes. Consequently, the first question that should be answered is why employees leave. For finding a response, the company should administrate exit interviews through interviewers who are not involved in giving references (as this is one of the main reasons determining individuals to make false statements).

Other elements that are able to support the retention process could be: a realistic preview of the job tasks offered to potential employees during the recruitment phase, opportunities for development, working hours tailored to the employees' domestic responsibilities if possible, a higher emphasis put on the quality of the services provided rather than on the number of working hours, high attention paid to equity and fairness, the opportunity to express dissatisfaction through surveys and open dialogues with managers and so on (http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/hrpract/turnover/empturnretent.htm?IsSrchRes=1).

As for the career development process, nowadays this is considered to be the apanage of the employees rather than the responsibility of the company. Therefore, each individual should begin by self-assessing his/her personality, skills, knowledge. Afterwards, he/she must identify the types of jobs in aviation and their specific traits in order to detect those which correspond to his/her own characteristics (e.g. can he/she cope with the stress specific to the airline industry, is he/she calm and patient enough to solve complaints or apply emergency procedures when needed). Then, the individual must decide which the most appropriate job is and which career path he would like to pursue. In other words, he will have to set a career objective. For achieving this, he/she must search for job vacancies in the field he/she is interested in, send CVs and letters of motivation and take part in interviews. After, obtaining the desired job, he/she will gain experience and periodically re-evaluate his/her professional trajectory in order to see if this leads to the pre-established objective (http://asc.army.mil/docs/pubs/cm/career_plan.pdf).The career development plan should be communicated to the airline company which will thus know how to motivate and keep its employees. For finding out the career development that employees have in mind, the HR department should periodically administrate questionnaires in this regard.

To conclude with, a career development planning model could consist of the following stages: position management (defining the organization's mission, structure and position requirements), development (having the necessary expertise, gaining experience, achieving leadership positions), career management (establishing what, when and how the career will evolve according to the employees' desire) (http://www.cdm.uwaterloo.ca/step1.asp).

For measuring the effectiveness of such plan, each phase should have a specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound objective whose accomplishment must be evaluated after the pre-established period of time. After achieving the objectives of a certain stage, an employee may climb the ladder and move towards another phase.

4. Human capital development (HCD)

HCD refers to the investments that a company makes in its personnel for achieving outcomes like retention, satisfaction, proficiency etc. (Thomas, Cheese, Benton, 2003). Thus, a low-cost carrier could enhance this segment by harboring a work culture which supports trainings aimed at developing existing skills or creating new ones. In this context, HCD plays a vital role in terms of skills gap. Thus, the company should have an up-to-date image of the personnel who is preparing to retire or to leave the company out of various reasons and should prepare back-ups for future vacant positions. Consequently, the corporation should also have a clear perspective of the skills possessed by available employees because it can find the perfect match in-house.

For instance, after September 11, 2001, Northwest Airlines had to lay off several employees and assign more tasks to the remaining ones. Hence, those employees who already had the necessary skills underwent a rapid training and were ready to take over… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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