BA’s marathon task is about rebuilding trust

first_imgRelated posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. It’sbeen a tortuous summer for British Airways and the worst may not be over yet.The return of industrial unrest, almost farcical operational difficulties,stiff competition from no frills airlines and steep oil price rises have come togetherto create a crisis situation. The company’s branding as ‘the nation’s favouriteairline’ is wearing seriously thin.Questionablemanagement and the handling of people issues are at the heart of this sorrytale. BA has chronic problems with sickness absence, staff turnover and morale.Legions of employees, from pilots to check-in workers, have been lining up totake a pop at the employer they now fear does not respect them. If industry commentators are to be believed, trust between BAmanagers and staff is now at all-time low and requires urgent repair if theemployer brand is not to be damaged further. AsWill Hutton, chief executive of The Work Foundation told Personnel Todayreaders a year ago (5 August, 2003), BA needs a more European, social partnershipapproach to organising work where employees have a voice in how the business isreshaped.  BA is attempting to increaseemployee involvement, but it’s taking a while to reap any dividends.Theairline is far from making a sensible level of profit and has deep-rootedproblems all across the organisation. BA’s director for people, Neil Robertson,has been open about the challenges his HR team faces this week (see page 1) andthis candid approach will be critical to any turnaround. But the people issueswill require much more resolve than simply offering quick fixes such as freeflights for 17,500 staff to appease their stress and disruption. Thebill for this perk could be as much as £4m at a time when BA needs to be takingcosts out of the business. What outcome does BA want from this move? Staff are routinely entitled to free flights, so improvedgoodwill, motivation or attitude could be remote. NeilRobertson and his team will need all the support they can get in the monthsahead.   There will be some fascinatinglessons for the profession out of BA’s recovery or otherwise.By Jane King, editor BA’s marathon task is about rebuilding trustOn 7 Sep 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Articlelast_img

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