United Airlines reverses its plans for a lottery bonus program

07 March, 2018, 11:41 | Author: Terri Saunders
  • A newly painted United Airlines jet is seen in this UAL handout

According to memo received by the Chicago Business Journal, UAL President Scott Kirby announced that the cash bonus payouts are being replaced with a new program, "core4 Score Rewards", which will include quarterly cash prizes ranging from $2,000 to $40,000, a grand prize of $100,000 per quarter, cars and vacation packages.

On Monday, Kirby said the company is "pressing the pause button" on the new bonus system in response to employee "feedback and concerns" in a follow-up email to employees the company provided to Business Insider.

United Airlines is changing how it rewards employees, and some workers are not happy.

"We announced a new internal program based on United meeting certain operational and dependability metrics as a way of offering meaningful rewards to our employees", a company spokesman said last week.

The dust-up over the bonus lottery showed that United is struggling to overcome a legacy of poor labor relations since its 2010 merger with Continental Airlines. This time, however, they are in the news for replacing their employee bonus system with a lottery system, according to reports. "It was unilaterally determined by management", Ken Diaz, president of United's chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a letter to his membership.

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"Awful idea", "insulting", "not cool" were among the reactions from United employees - part of some 500 comments posted to United's employee website that were reviewed by Inc.

"I can't imagine driving the Mercedes into the employee lot while everyone around me that worked just as hard, or harder got nothing", one flight attendant wrote. In one fell swoop, it is crushed again. The video of the incident had sparked outrage on social media. Chicago-based United employs about 88,000 personnel worldwide. The report did not break out bonuses for executives and other workers.

The lottery system, with about $18 million in rewards per year available for rank-and-file workers, may have cost the company far less.

Instead, the airline will be reaching out to employee work groups to make changes that "better reflect [employee] feedback". A United spokesperson would not say exactly how many employees complained about the change, but did say that it was a "significant enough number".

Though internal programs should support your organization's mission statement, vision and goals, this crisis can stand as a lesson for communicators to consider employee needs when implementing a program-not just numbers.


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