It has been two and a half months since Head of HR department, very much respected Mr.Abdulaziz Al Ali, sent an e-mail thanking employees for participating in the company’s survey on job satisfaction and promised to share results. This survey was conducted soon after this blog started with its first post – Open letter to His Highness the Chairman of Emirates Airline (EK). And whilst three vice-presidents of Human Resources department were thanked for the service in EK and escorted out, they never sent a goodbye email, so we don’t know the reasons why their services were terminated. There is an assumption that they were fired for the devastating survey results. Despite the promise of sharing these results, employees didn’t get to find out what is happening in their own company so far. So, due to the lack of company’s survey results, this article will offer some poll results from independent third parties, conducted among EK cabin crew.
Since there is a lack of communication between managers and employees, staff has no other way to find out about happenings in their own company than to use Internet websites such as, besides this blog, Emirates Illuminati (blocked in UAE), PPRuNE.org and few more.
Just in past 5 days 80,165 people came to this blog in search for the information on working conditions in EK: Some of these websites are used as a source of information on employees’ job satisfaction by third parties. I will not reveal my sources (it is enough to say that I can defend myself in the court of law with evidence if sued for publishing this data), but I am presenting some of the results of one such survey conducted on a representative sample of EK cabin crew.
Results of this research are not surprising for those who are working or who worked in Emirates Airline. So, what is the real state of the employees’ and customers’ satisfaction in Emirates Airline?
The most vulnerable groups of employees in Emirates Airline are ground staff in Airport Services – check in and boarding agents and cabin crew, while pilot‘s dissatisfaction is in constant growth.
The biggest problem of EK in these departments is huge staff turnover. And while managers will always say that this turnover rate is “expected” in big companies, they don’t have an answer for how to deal with it. Their only solution is to pressurize already exhausted staff to work over their physical and mental capacities and law limitations, which is especially dangerous in the Airline Industry. Another threat to the airline safety is lack of experienced staff, which is, again, another consequence of huge staff turnover.
Emirates Airline recruits thousands of very young people to ground staff and cabin crew positions every year to replace employees who massively resign. These people can not be trained fast enough to meet all the criteria for safe flying. And while they have the physical appearance and smile necessary for customer service delivery (at least in the first couple of months of a honeymoon period within the company) their life and work experience is insufficient for more serious tasks in airline safety. And when they reach the satisfactory level of this experience, they are fed up with injustice and pressure inside the company and they resign.
I am not inclined to believe that disposable staff policy is an unofficial policy in EK because nobody is that unreasonable to cut the branch they are sitting on. Or are they?
Company, also, makes huge and unfair differences between ground staff and cabin crew. Ground staff (doing the same customer service job) are discriminated on every possible level compared to cabin crew, who have much better accommodation, salaries, medical care and benefits. Knowing this it is just a devastating fact that cabin crew resign in such huge number. It means that someone is not doing their job while getting huge salary for it. How bad is that for business?
According to mentioned research, the biggest dissatisfaction of cabin crew lies (not surprisingly!) in the way their managers treat them, while they are reasonably satisfied with their benefits, accommodation and salary. But when it comes to communication, superior – staff relations and personal contact between managers and crew, survey results are disappointing and poor.
This particular research was conducted on a representative sample of cabin crew using scientifically recognized statistical methods and tests. There were difficulties during the conduct of the survey as many employees are afraid that expression of their opinion on company will lead to the punishment or termination of their service.
These are some of the survey results:
A Cabin crew’s satisfaction with benefits and working conditions:
- 68,12% of examinees are generally satisfied with the job of cabin crew in Emirates Airline. This is a solid result in Emirates Airline’s favour, although company should not underestimate dissatisfied percentage of crew.
- Only 37,68% of examinees find working conditions on board satisfactory, while the majority – 62,32% find the them unsatisfactory or remained neutral.
- 73,92% of cabin crew are satisfied with benefits (salary, accommodation, transport…). This is also a good result. It would be interesting to compare this number to the number of people satisfied with benefits but working in ground staff. I predict immense difference.
- 69,57% of examinees are not satisfied or remained neutral in answering the question about their rostering and flight time limitations. This result proves that cabin crew are pushed to their limits and overworked.
B Crew’s satisfaction with management style, communication and working atmosphere:
- This result is alarming: 56,52% of cabin crew find that their work is not acknowledged by the company. 27,54% of examinees remained neutral.
- 66,67% of examinees are not satisfied or they remained neutral when asked about their satisfaction about the way the company communicates information to them.
- 49,27% of cabin crew doesn’t feel that their company (managers) support them. 28,99% remained neutral, which makes the total number of 78,26% of cabin crew who are not satisfied or don’t know how to feel about the support they are getting from their superiors or they don’t want to tell. Very worrying number which demands immediate attention.
- Another terrible result is acquired in answering the question whether employees feel that they can voice their opinion without the fear of being punished for it. Disastrous 71,01% answered that they feel afraid to express their opinion on work while 14,49% remained neutral.
- Another destructive result: 66,66% of cabin crew feel maltreated by the company. 23,19% remained neutral.
C Cabin crew’s engagement in achieving company’s goals:
- 81,16% are interested in the company’s affairs.
- 85,51% of cabin crew are proud to work for the company (good result) and 72,45% would help the company to reach its goal of being among the most successful companies in the world (also very good result).
What can we learn from these results?
We can learn that cabin crew are fairly satisfied with their working benefits (salary, accommodation, medical care, face cards…). They feel pretty proud of working for such a big and known company. Most of them would help and are helping Emirates Airline to achieve its goals and vision. Most of them do care about the company’s image and are interested in internal happenings. So, what is the problem then?
Maybe this commenter described it in the best way:
Although my story in general was not sad, between 2006 and 2008 I witnessed many changes within EK, mainly the beginning of the “report” system, the increased workload, the switch from a personalized to a staff number relations and many more. I witnessed the jump to the new HQ, which contributed to the massive growth of overexcited managerial staff. All of them trying to prove themselves came with ideas, some were pure demonstration people’s servility with no positive benefits. I witnessed many of the qualified staff go, because they were fed up with the all growing number of restrictions, penalties, insane rosters, and last but not least the spreading fear. Many of these people were seniors who used to protect their staff. Eventually in 2008 I handed my resignation as well.
Majority of cabin crew are not satisfied with their working conditions when it comes to the way management and superiors are treating them. The percentage of dissatisfied people is alarming and it is the reason why so many crew resign, despite their relative satisfaction with working benefits. This fact just proves the catastrophic state of human resources in Emirates Airline and rotten, bossy and authoritative organisational culture imposed by incompetent managers.
Rule of fear is evident and proved in the percentage of the crew who are afraid to express their opinion (around 70%!).
Majority of the crew doesn’t feel appreciated or supported by their managers, who are not capable to deal with the growth of the company and lack of staff in any other way than to exploit and overwork their crew, while not even appreciate or respect their efforts and hard work.
Even if nobody in Emirates Airline cares about humanity, they should understand that humanity and successful business are in direct relation. In Emirates Airline’s case it turned out that having so many disgruntled former employees willing to publicly provide their opinion on their ex employer was not a good idea. And it seems that it’s better that your employees do not leave the company hurt, angry and humiliated, because they are part of your image as well.
You should care about your staff. Even if they are staying in the company for just a couple of years and leave. Even if they are just in transit. Why? Because your customers’ dissatisfaction with demotivated crew attitude is growing in recent years. Just in EK business class negative feedback about your cabin crew makes 40% of all complaints. Because demotivated crew lead to lousy customer service and that leads to customers flying with another airlines. Because demotivated staff are not ready to go that extra mile that you need desperately to beat your strong competition. And unfortunately, a small piece of chocolate given during the forced training, which is Ms.Anoma Manuel’s idea of motivating her staff, will not work.
If you read this blog devoided of anger towards its author, you may be able to comprehend the extent of the human resources disaster in your company and to start with damage control and introducing some sustainable policies in order for your business to survive challenging airline industry conditions.
I will not write all of my ideas on how to improve your business, as it is an expensive knowledge and I worked hard to gain it. I trust you have enough money to employ some competent people to help you resolve the issues. And to help you even more, I hope that I will soon have survey results for the Airport Services ground staff, where are I expect a real tragedy.
Bottom line and the most important question for managers is: if your employees care for you and company’s image, how is it possible that you don’t care about them?
Emirates Airline was a nice place to be not so long ago. Even I feel proud for being a part of EK at some point of my life and was careful about its image while I was working there. But managers didn’t seem to understand the importance of respecting their loyal staff and dialogue, so in the same way they usually “push” people to resign, they pushed me in making this blog by forcing me to escape the country and by not paying me my EOSB.