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Tag Archives: Survey

“How would you fix the Emirates mess?”

I guess that truth about Emirates Airline management has finally found its way to public. Wall Street Journal has already published an article on Emirates cabin crew’s dissatisfaction and in their newest article (“Pilot Workload at Emirates Under Question”) we can read about Emirates pilots’ discontent.

I will repeat how my intention was never to attract public attention, otherwise I would contact journalists from all over the world. My intention was to get my end of service money and an apology for being maltreated and harassed. I didn’t get any of these things so far. On the contrary, Emirates Airline managers fired a close friend of mine recently just for commenting my blog post on Facebook.

Nevertheless, as I would love to see my former colleagues more satisfied and happy with their work in Emirates Airline (which is one of the reasons why I have published so many of their stories here), in this occasion I am republishing very constructive and informative article from Update from Tom blog written by former Emirates high level manager Mr. Tom Burgess. You can visit his blog here, and this is part of his newest blog post on profit share, bonuses and constructive ways to improve current challenging situation in Emirates Airline.

Let’s assume, even just for a moment, that somebody from EK management will put their arrogance aside and read this smart article carefully and with understanding.

Many threats can be turned into opportunities.  And Emirates certainly has a threat to deal with.  The situation has been deteriorating for some time, but a tipping point was perhaps reached last year.  The company motto, promulgated by the HR department, was simple – ‘If you don’t like it, you can leave’.  In EG-IT this was supplemented by Patrick Naef’s approach of ‘If I don’t like you, you will leave’.  Now people will choose to leave if nothing positive is done.

But this major threat could not come at a better time.  The price of oil hasfallen dramatically, averaging around a third below its expected level throughout the second half of the financial year.  Fuel costs represent about 40% of the airline’s operating costs so there should be an additional profit of around 6% this year.  Even without the reduction in fuel price, Emirates would be making a healthy profit, so this is truly a large windfall.  As always, the discussion about what to do with the profits will already be underway and I hope there is a strong focus on the problem of staff morale.

Of course, an obvious answer is to be appropriately generous with the bonus but, though I said earlier that opportunities often evolve from threats, it can also work the other way.  A single and large pay out to staff will be very well received but, unless people genuinely believe that things are going to change, a healthy bonus could be the perfect trigger for people to move on.

Annual bonuses can also be divisive.  There is a general acceptance that those with larger salaries will receive more cash, but I feel uncomfortable with a system that increases the percentages of bonuses for senior managers.  The argument that the more senior someone is, the more impact s/he can have on the company’s performance, does not wash with me.  That has already been accounted for in the shape of a larger salary and an already larger bonus, without the need for multipliers.

Low salaries (for some) and high staff turnover has been a strategy that has worked well for Emirates.  One cannot fault the basic principle – if you pay enough below what a job is worth and the cost of recruiting does not fill that gap, you appear to make a saving.  But this approach reflects narrow thinking.  I worked for a company that paid in the upper decile of industry salary ranges and were thus able to recruit and retain the best staff.  The efficiencies realised just from having the best staff more than paid for that policy.  There were many other benefits too, including a much slimmer HR department which could focus on the important task of developing careers to the advantage of individuals and the company, rather than wasting time on endless hiring and firing activities.

You generally get what you pay for in life.  This certainly applies to staff and ‘pay’ is not limited to money, it embraces the whole spectrum of how people are treated.  There are clearly people who ‘want something for nothing’ in this world but there is no need to recruit those, or retain them if their attitudes change.  The vast majority of people want to work hard and make valuable contributions and this mindset is significantly strengthened if they are treated with respect and honestly, and paid what they are worth in the market.

Companies, even large ones, should not treat staff as temporary, unless there is a clear business requirement (e.g. one off event) to do so.  If a company treats its staff as permanent and applies a long term approach to the relationship, that attitude will be returned.  Obviously, many of us may not join an organisation with the intention to stay until retirement, but why shouldn’t a company make that assumption when it recruits people?  What could be the downside?

So what is Emirates going to do?  Attention on a number of issues is long overdue and, with a healthy amount of money to play with, there is now the perfect opportunity to act decisively.

– The staff survey needs to published, messages acknowledged and specific actions identified (and delivered, of course).

– The Group is in need of a major restructure.  A lot of the operational areas may work well, but support functions should be pulled together and thoroughly reviewed.  Opportunities for large efficiency gains will appear endless if a detailed review of activities, including a rigorous assessment of the value they add (or don’t add!), is carried out.  I hear of claims from staff such as “I have nothing to do”, “What I do is pointless”, etc.

– HR itself needs more than a review.  It has to position itself to do the job it was always supposed to do, but rarely did.  At least it appears the problem has been acknowledged, but real action is required.

– Management levels need a careful examination.  There cannot be many people in the group (other than those occupying pointless management jobs) who believe that Emirates does not have too many layers of management.  With fewer levels, reporting will have to be more focused and accountability increased.  I have witnessed an entire team of VP’s decline to make any decisions at a meeting, saying “we will have to wait for the boss” (who had been delayed).  And I know of another VP who is described by his team members as “the world’s most efficient email forwarding system”.  I could go on.

– I should not have to write this – treat everyone (all levels, up or down the organisation) with respect and maintain dignity, openness and honesty in all proceedings.

– Phase out the profit share scheme, but make an immediate andunambiguous commitment to increase the salaries of those in real need.  By ‘in real need’ I mean those who are adding genuine value to the day to day operation and to the bottom line of the business.  This will require a newremuneration policy, one that is much more considered than the ‘as little as we can get away with’ approach used to date and one that has staffretention as its cornerstone.  This ongoing commitment will be easily funded by the savings generated by the restructures described above.  The potential for savings should not be underestimated.

I suspect that this update may irritate a few people, but I am only trying to help.  I did write to Sir Tim Clark a while ago offering a few suggestions, even help, but he did not respond.  I gave up writing to Gary Chapman a long time ago because it seems he has no interest in my views.  I do not understand why.  If anyone has a problem with me doing this, I would ask them – “how would you fix the mess?”.

Posted by Tom Burgess at 00:08

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Survey on Emirates employees’ satisfaction results

Six months ago Emirates Airline Human Resources managers conducted a survey on employees’ satisfaction. There were no news on this survey results until now. In the meantime, few HR managers were fired immediately after conducting this survey, and Emirates Airline didn’t make it to be on the list of the best companies to work for neither in UAE nor in the world. There were some hints that this survey and its potentially positive results were intended to put Emirates Airline on the list of 50 companies best to work for, but nothing happened except mentioned HR services terminations.

Survey results are finally published after six months. Maybe we have to thank to journalists who were tirelessly asking both me and Emirates officials questions about this survey. But make no mistake: there are no real survey results in the e-mail which was recently sent to all EK staff, but just general “conclusions”. One can not see statistics and percentages from this e-mail. This is for a reason, of course. Real survey results are, probably, so devastating and bad that it would be an ultimate embarrassment for EK to publish them, especially when media are very interested to have a look at them.

Mr. Abdulaziz's e-mail on survey six months ago

Mr. Abdulaziz’s e-mail on survey six months ago

This is the content of the e-mail which was recently sent to EK staff by Head of HR Mr. Abdulaziz Al Ali. I will include a screenshot of this e-mail as soon as I get it. I am posting a message which I have got from one commenter on this blog. I have got many e-mails and comments after publishing the article about my friend being ruthlessly fired for commenting my blog post on Facebook. I would like to thank everyone for the support and kind words.

Here is the “result” of the survey after 6 months. They didn’t dare release the actual results though. Heck Emirates didn’t even make it to the top employer list within the UAE yet it is the largest company in Dubai – sad sad sad. Here is the “results” that was sent by Mr AA yesterday. Dragana Pls publish in a proper seperate article though.

“In September 2014, more than 13,000 of you spoke of your experience at Emirates and what matters to you. Your feedback from the survey has helped us to define and shape our future together as one team. And I thank you for that.

It has taken me and our senior managers some time to fully understand the results and create an action plan.

What you said: your responses ranged from “I enjoy my job and look forward to start my working week” and “…colleagues I consider my family” to “nothing motivates me except the travel benefits” and “we’re forced to make a living so we have to work”.

You highlighted what is important to you:

Growth and career opportunities
Salary and benefits
Managers who are caring and inspiring, who listen to your ideas, try new ways of working, and recognise good work
Your motivation – and that this is affected by stress and challenging work schedules
I assure you that our senior managers have taken the results of the survey very seriously. They know what you value – a good team culture, recognition of your hard work, and an enjoyable workplace. They are working with HR to invest in you, and give you the tools you need to do a good job. You will hear the plans from your own leadership in the coming weeks.

For the last 18 months, HR has been working on key changes to the way we manage our people. We will be rolling out a new competency framework and performance management for our office-based colleagues, and are developing leadership and opportunities across the company.

These things do take time – so your patience is appreciated. To sustain our growth and increase our fan base, we have to invest in more aircraft, routes, technology, and facilities. And more importantly, we have to invest in you. Ultimately, it’s your talent, loyalty and hard work that will create a sustainable and a successful business.

Be the change you want to see. Your contribution is part of something bigger – our future.

Write to me here with your comments. Thank you once again for helping steer our business.

Hello to a brighter future. Hello Tomorrow.

Abdulaziz Al Ali
Executive Vice President Human Resources

Any comments on these words and promises?


Cabin crew’s job satisfaction in Emirates Airline – survey results

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.

EK Employees asking for survey results on PPRuNE.org forum

EK Employees asking for survey results on PPRuNE.org forum

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?

Mr. Abdulaziz's promise to share survey results

Mr. Abdulaziz’s promise to share survey results

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.

Capture

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.

80,165 visitors in 5 days

80,165 visitors in 5 days

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 alarming56,52% 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.

The comment about EK's decline

The comment about EK’s decline

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.

40% of complaints is a negative feedback

40% of complaints is a negative feedback

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.

 

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Is Emirates Airline among 50 companies best to work for?

When I supposed to go to Ms. Anoma Manuel’s office for a meeting, I have printed out a list of 10 companies which are the best to work for and 10 companies which crumbled due to management’s greediness. I never showed her those lists since that meeting turned into complete surprise, especially as Amanda Maxwell – MHR-HRBS-EKAS & SKYCARGO was present. Ms. Amanda’s  behaviour was far away from professional as she told me in one moment (in a hysterical manner) – “I’ve had enough of you!”. All I did was telling Ms. Anoma and Ms. Amanda that I think that Dubai Labour Law is violated, and I’ve got this reaction from Ms. Amanda. I was surprised at first. Never in my professional life I have seen such a condescending behaviour of one manager towards their staff. Later on, when I got to know Ms. Amanda better, I’ve seen her treating employees like children, speaking with them in a, paradoxically, immature and inappropriate way. Ms. Amanda Maxwell also told me that I will “never advance in this company because I will always be known as a girl who wrote five pages e-mail to DVP” (my warning appeal). I was honestly startled with this sentence as well, since it is inconceivable for me that one HR manager can threaten their employee in such a shameless way. I have asked Ms. Amanda about the meaning of this statement at our Open forum, but it was explained to me that I have “misunderstood” her. Ms. Sophia Panayiotou former SVP HRBS even included this question of mine in the list of reasons why I was fired.

I will publish another article about Ms. Amanda soon enough, since she is an HR manager who has a direct contact with EKAS staff.

Seems like my intention to present a list of companies best to work for was prophetic because Emirates Airline president Tim Clark wanted to use the results of a recent survey about employees’ satisfaction in Emirates Airline (conducted soon after publication of Open Letter to His Highness Ahmed) to put EK on the list of 50 companies best to work for, apparently. According to my source (screenshots below the article), survey results were devastating, so presidency decided to terminate contracts of several SVPs and VPs. And while we are waiting for the official result of this survey (although we can not trust it much), we can only speculate about names of managers whose contracts have been terminated:

  • Sophia Panayiotou, SVP HRBS,
  • Katarina Ciumei, SVP HR (Remuneration and Planning),
  • Rick Helliwell, VP – Corporate Leadership and Talent Management.

Some of the managers were just moved to another position, so besides Anoma Manuel, former DVP EKASKevin Griffits, SVP Cabin Crew was moved to another position as well. If I made a mistake in this list, please do notify me. I am ready to apologize if I am mistaken or if I have a wrong information.

Seems that presidency didn’t know or did not want to know the true, catastrophic state of working conditions inside their own company. And while we can read all over the internet how Emirates “can hardly train its staff fast enough” due to “high business demands and huge and successful company expansion”, only thousands of cabin crews and ground staffs who resigned, can testify about the true nature of these fast recruitments and trainings: due to massive staff dissatisfaction, cabin crew (and all the other staff) massively resign, so Emirates Airline has no other choice than to quickly hire new staff to cover the lack of staff on board and at the airport.

I have also heard the story that cabin crews are forced to return from long flights travelling on duty travel tickets (if the type of the aircraft is, for some reason, changed at the destination and company doesn’t need all crews from the first flight). Extra crews are sent back to Dubai as regular passengers so that company doesn’t need to pay them their flight hours for a return flight. If the new aircraft requires more staff, existing cabin crews just work more for the same pay cheque.

I will conclude this article with my two cents: the answer to the question from the title is a big NO. A company which brutally exploits its employees, endangering their health and mental conditions, for, often, barely surviving salary (of 700 euros, which is how much ground staffs have), with almost no opportunity for advancement and very present nepotismcorruption, arrogant staff treatment and unfair dismissals, can only be listed on some very unpopular and unflattering list.

HR SVPs fired.

HR SVPs fired.

VP fired.

VP fired.

Cabin Crew is suffering

Cabin Crew is suffering