recruit retain aviation pilots

One of the more fascinating things to come out API’s “Innovation Zone” panel at last year’s NBAA-BACE, was our survey results from roughly 40 bizav organization leaders.

API’s survey—which was distributed to the aviation directors roundtable and other flight department leaders—focused on how to create “sticky” cultures. And what we mean by “sticky” is how to attract high-quality aviation talent to their flight department. And then retain them by keeping those employees engaged.

Aside from “brand” and “reputation,” our bizav respondents also listed several other issues that contribute to talent retention, including the quality of work and life balance, and the level of compensation a company or department offers.

Also high on the list of best practices was giving employees some autonomy in their departments—to let them have a voice—especially regarding the selection of new team members.

And then, I’m sure it’s no surprise that they asked, “Help me to grow.” In other words, provide them with a framework for individual development and make them feel confident in the all-important matter of promotion from within.

Why flight departments lose aviation talent

On the flip side of the question of talent retention, we asked our survey respondents why they think organizations lose good people.

It probably comes as no surprise that the number-one answer was due to attrition—that is, employees retiring.

But the second-highest response regarded compensation, the idea that an employee can go to another company and be monetarily rewarded at a much higher level.

And running close to that in importance, the lack of opportunity for growth in a particular organization.

Something else that we saw again and again in our responses was the issue of pilots taking job opportunities with the airlines. As you likely know, many of our part 121 carriers provide defined compensation plans and more consistent schedules. And many airline jobs eliminate the need for relocation.

What drives bizav employee loyalty?

One survey area involved the question of employee loyalty and what drives it. Overwhelmingly, our respondents told us that it’s their organization’s culture that inspires their loyalty.

Part and parcel of that culture, is the issue of transparency—how open and communicative organizations are regarding the policies and conduct of the company or department.

Lastly to the question of what drives loyalty, our respondents said, again, that it’s life/work balance and how their companies deal with that issue.

Best practices to engage talent

The last issue I addressed with our bizav leaders at the conference was the question of what they do—or what they recommend be done—to engage talent in the workplace.

Their response was simple. They said that one-on-one meetings were the single-biggest factor in helping to promote and engage talent among team members.

And, they told us in no uncertain terms that they want one-on-one time, coaching and mentoring to help talent thrive and develop in an organization.

Also important to help engage talent, the respondents said, were team events and regular team meetings. This should come as no surprise to anyone who understands what motivates team cultures and the individual contributors who comprise them.

So the survey revealed both some expected and unexpected responses regarding the hows and whys of creating “sticky” cultures in the bizav workplace.

In my next, follow-up blog to this one, I’ll share some of the internal and external practices that affect employee retention, with some insights into that topic from some of our industry’s most notable spokespeople.

Your Turn

Do you have some ideas or information regarding workforce talent retention that you’d like to share with us? If so, we’d be happy to hear from you in that regard.


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