Booking cheap flights is always a risk; the risk that taxes will absorb all of your remaining budget, the risk of discomfort, the risk of that incredibly annoying fanfare as your flight arrives apparently “on time” despite what you know to be well over-inflated journey time estimates accounting for an extremely slim chance of your flight not being on time. But I digress.
I recently flew from East Midlands airport to Spain with ailing airline BMI Baby. In the run up to their dilution following their take-over by British Airways (during which the majority of staff from BMI will lose their jobs), it was to be expected that the mood on board wouldn’t be as jovial as normal. But what I didn’t expect was behaviour which bordered on unprofessional – no matter how difficult the situation behind it.
Examples included cabin crew ‘playing’ with the example oxygen mask and wearing as an Emirates style hat, and a member of cabin crew shrugging with the words ‘who cares’ when I alerted him to what myself and my fellow passengers witnessed as stealing from the snacks trolley.
At first, I was annoyed. I’d paid for my flight and deserved the same service anyone else would expect, regardless of the circumstances surrounding my flight. But then I thought about it further – and I thought, is this the fault of the cabin crew, or could BMI or BA have done more to maintain a positive outlook even in difficult times?
I’ve been witness to redundancies in the past and have seen first hand the effect they have on the morale of the staff, both those directly affected and those not. So how does a business mitigate that effect – and should it have to anyway?
For me, the story is far longer than the time surrounding the redundancies. Making employees feel valued as part of the business and valuable as an individual is a key part to a business’ success.
And it doesn’t need to be expensive either. I wrote a blog on the TUI Graduates site which explored the different ways TUI businesses aim to create a feeling of being valued for their employees through small gestures such as fruit in the office and Friday afternoon drinks. But it’s also got to be about helping that individual to progress, making training and advice readily available and giving them the opportunity to feel needed within that business but also confident in their own abilities and value without it – so, should the worst happen, they know they can continue their career because of the skills they have improved in their previous role.
Of course, that’s a very simplistic way of looking at things but I believe making people feel valued and ensuring the communication between business and employee is efficient and effective will at least help to ease the effect of big changes.
But that’s not where the story ends. As I looked at the BMI employees, one of whom told me he had 17 years experience with the company and who, in his words, neither wanted nor knew how to do anything other than working on an airline, I thought to myself what a waste it was to see their experience fall by the wayside. Why weren’t other airlines taking them on?
Granted, we can’t expect companies to ‘pick up the pieces’ for their competitors and cabin crew is a well sought after role, but that passion for the travel industry should be harnessed. Could there be some system whereby businesses within an industry communicate more effectively to ensure the preservation of an industry-specific workforce, whose experience will be an asset no matter which specific business they are employed by?
I believe there could and that, by working together, we could all do better. Communication and value are key – and who knows, perhaps if BMI and BA had done things a little differently, my experience as a customer would have been better too.