Regional carrier LIAT is admitting that it has not done enough to engage its employees over the years since more attention was paid on how to turn around its financial challenges and then the re-fleeting exercise. The company said it is now focusing on building employee/employer confidence.
This admission was made by Acting Chief Executive Officer Julie Reifer-Jones when asked why the airline’s management and staff have such a combative relationship and why the attitude of the staff towards passengers is labelled by many as poor.
“We have made a commitment to engage with the employees because we see that as a major issue. Engaging with the employees is about refocusing on what LIAT is about, what our objectives are, about why we take some of the decisions we have taken and making sure that there is an understanding of what is in the best interest of the company as a whole,” she said.
Reifer-Jones added that this sort of engagement will increase because the airline’s managers want a better relationship with the workers and to see improvement in the services offered to include timeliness of flights and prompt delivery of luggage among other things.
The CEO said these can only be achieved if the company’s human resource needs are met.
“We have not done enough of that engagement in the past and this is why we have put it on a different level and that process has just started, just like the customer service. I think it is that engagement that will help to change the conversation with the employees so that they will be more committed to this process and what LIAT stands for throughout the region,” Reifer-Jones said.
She said that before LIAT is able to compete and be the choice of travellers, it knows it must improve.
“We are having town hall meetings, we’re meeting with the departments and discussing various issues as to how we are going to get back on the right footing,” she stressed.
Reifer-Jones noted that last year LIAT trained its frontline staff and the company wants to provide training at all levels and to all staff.
She promised more employer/ employee engagements will take place with management and pilots especially in face of the pilots’ refusal to fly the ATR 72-600 aircraft during the dispute over pay.
The action by the pilots spanned three days in June but it had a ripple effect on bookings. LIAT said it lost thousands of bookings for the period June to September and it estimates the overall cost would be about $7 million.