Why would anyone be attracted to work in your airport? In a fast-growing industry where on average the number of passengers has been doubling every fifteen years, finding sufficient people of the right calibre can be quite a challenge.
Take Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland, for example. Since 2009, a boom in tourism and connecting low cost flights has resulted in a fivefold increase in passenger numbers, from approximately two million to ten million passengers per year, and a doubling in the demand for staff – in a country with a population of less than 350,000.
How are airports tackling this issue?
Well, it’s important that they are well run and have the basics in place. They need to be clear on their vision, values and ‘employer brand’.
They have to work out the kind of people and skills they need to attract. Their pay and conditions must be competitive. Most importantly, they need to be able to articulate their ‘employee value proposition’ – what it is they have to offer to potential employees.
Describing the expectations, excitement and challenges of working in airports is one side of the coin. Developing a better understanding of people’s expectations and aspirations in terms of, for example, personal development, flexibility, societal contribution and preferred style of working, is the other.
Keflavik Airport has taken this approach seriously. It has peak staffing requirements in operations over summer months and realised these needs could be met by students working over their vacation.
It has ‘reached out’ to schools, colleges and universities and built strong relationships with these institutions and their students. Recruitment programmes now fit in with college timetables, communal transport is provided (the ‘sleep bus’), and tailored social and health offerings have been developed.
In return the students have performed responsibly. Those who do well are invited back the next year. Some will become long-term employees.
Organisations also need to pay attention to ensuring that the ‘employee experience’, the overall perception that employees have about the totality of their experience at work, is a positive as possible.
How best to go about this will always depend on the specific circumstances of the organisation, the type of work and the people involved, but we have developed our own check list of items which we have found are usually important. Check out your E numbers!
- Empathy: understand what people are looking for at work
- Encouraging: consider people as individuals with diverse needs
- Expectations: make expectations clear on all sides
- Engaging: ensure work is interesting and challenging
- Empowering: give people responsibility
- Education: provide learning and development opportunities
- Evidence: agree targets, review and reward
- Experimenting: encourage creativity and innovation
- Enthusiasm: more important than skill which can be learned
- Equity: treat people fairly
Understand where people are coming from, adjust your offerings, make sure the employee experience is fulfilling, and make your airport attractive to potential employees.