Tuesday, April 18, 2017

What does "putting employees first" mean? (United, and Richard Branson)

In the aftermath of the United brouhaha, there's been some comment that United has failed to put its customers first.

But guess what? One noted businessman has proclaimed that his customers are not first - his employees are first.

But does United's decision to give boarding priority to its employees on a Chicago - Louisville flight indicate that Richard Branson is in complete agreement with the move?

Not necessarily.

Take a close look at how Branson defines his "employees first" concept:

It should go without saying, if the person who works at your company is 100 percent proud of the brand and you give them the tools to do a good job and they are treated well, they're going to be happy.

This is not exactly the same as "giving employees priority over paying customers in all instances."

Are United employees 100 percent proud of the brand? Undoubtedly some are, but there are probably some who would not dare announce in a public gathering who their employer is.

Do United employees have the tools to do a good job? That's debatable. As one of my friends noted, the whole fracas could have been avoided if United had just loaded the four employees into a limo and sent the limo to Louisville (which isn't that far away from Chicago, relatively speaking).

Are United employees treated well? I'll give them credit on this one. In his original statement to employees, Oscar Munoz literally stood behind them.

Our employees followed established procedures for dealing with situations like this. While I deeply regret this situation arose, I also emphatically stand behind all of you, and I want to commend you for continuing to go above and beyond to ensure we fly right.

Of course, he then went on to say this in the next paragraph:

Treating our customers and each other with respect and dignity is at the core of who we are, and we must always remember this no matter how challenging the situation.

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