You have landed on our UK Site.

How do airports solve their staffing crisis?

Brexit, followed closely with the pandemic and as a chaser, the invasion of Ukraine, have reaped havoc on the employment industry, none more so than airports.

The situation

Brexit, followed closely with the pandemic and as a chaser, the invasion of Ukraine, have reaped havoc on the employment industry, none more so than airports. Having had to let staff go during the pandemic due to the fact no one was allowed to travel, the inevitable happened that when staff were finally needed again, they were nowhere to be found. 

With certain security clearances needed for restricted zones within airports like working airside can make the recruitment process longer, and with 70% of frontline workers telling us in our latest State of the Deskless Workforce report that they believe their skills are highly transferable, and would help them to get a job in another industry. It’s become a real business critical issue.

So, for example you’re CHRO at Heathrow Airport. You are constantly being reported on the BBC for long queues, missed flights and lost baggage. How can you make the situation better, and how do you keep your employees from leaving for other companies when pay rises are not feasible. 

For the employee, their cost of living has rocketed. Food costs more. Energy bills are higher. Travelling to work costs more. Buying and renting costs more. 

For the employer, the potential labour pool has shrunk significantly. Unemployment is at a record low, migration is low, older people are retiring sooner and younger people are deciding to enter the workforce later. 

What drives employee retention and attraction

I put the two side by side because I believe that if you are successfully retaining your staff, then the same reasons for success will lead to the attracting and acquiring new employees too. It’s also worth remembering that our research shows that money is not the top driver for retention - so what is? Here are our tips to getting a happy workforce. 

Communication Channels - This should be the priority. Without an understanding of what the workforce needs and how they are feeling about being at work, how can we make the best decisions for them? We should think about the types and regularity of various communication channels as well. One-to-one, or direct manager-to-employee communication is incredibly important, but so is one-to-many, such as Pulse survey questions - just so long as we aren’t sending too much information too often. It’s a balance, but one that definitely requires a way for employees to reach out to the business when they need to as well. And let's not forget that with the right tools, a lot of communication can be automated.

Growth Opportunities - We all want to grow, especially in our workplaces. Do you, as a business, know what growth your employees are seeking? Can you see what skill set they have individually, or even more powerful than that, what skill set exists across the business. Nothing says growth opportunity more than understanding what labour you might be able to pivot into different roles or areas of the business as the world changes and you seek to adapt. 

Direction - If we know what career growth opportunities our employees are aiming for, it becomes easier for us as leaders to provide them with the right direction. Think coaching and mentoring rather than managing and overseeing their day to day. 

Trust - Direction doesn’t mean micromanagement, though! Employees that feel they have the trust of their managers to carry out the work required of them are more likely to take pride in their work. Like everything else, it’s a balancing act between giving them freedom to grow and pointing them in the right direction. Trust could also extend to how the business connects its values with those of its employees. This can go a long way to building long term loyalty.

Flexibility - Flexibility can mean different things to different businesses and even individual employees. It could mean the ability to take certain time off, or swap shifts or even work in different roles. Sometimes it even means the ability to pick up more shifts or get access to their pay earlier. Providing even just some of these options to the workforce can be all the difference in the scheduling process and retaining employees. For example, if I can see my estimated wages per shift, request additional hours when I need them and get early access to my earned wages, I may be more likely to work those shifts that need filling. If I have the ability to swap a shift when I need to, the business is more likely to have the shift filled rather than suffer from a no show. It really can be a case of win-win

The right work tools - Of course, none of this would be possible without the right work tools in place. But the right tools extend beyond just core functionality. How are they accessed? Are they user friendly? How many tools are you providing; too many and it could be confusing and frustrating. What other information can be integrated or shared via these employee facing tools is also a key thing to take into consideration.

Some things are just a given now; I should be able to see my leave balances, manage my shifts, and view payslips when I need to, but tools like Quinyx go far beyond what the standard expectations are. We can sync work schedules with personal calendars for a single view of work-life balance, set shift and punch reminders to prevent no shows, allow employees to submit the working preferences to be taken into consideration in the scheduling processes, whether automated or manual and of course, share recognition among colleagues. There are very valid reasons why our customers' employees are using our app multiple times every single day - it’s the right type of work tool.

A neglected and disengaged workforce, particularly one that has encountered such turbulence in recent years needs to feel worthy and recognised for their efforts. Afterall, your workforce is your most valuable asset; investing in them will strengthen the business in many ways. Recently, there have been reports of company executives being asked to help fill gaps in the frontline workforce and I can’t help but think they’d welcome that opportunity if those roles were proven to be engaging, rewarding and fulfilling. Would you, dear reader, help the business fill these frontline roles? If not, perhaps ask the question - what do we need to change?

If you need further information on how Quinyx can be deployed at an airport, read our case study on London City Airport.