Management is aware of upcoming changes in the workforce associated with the layoffs and retirements of several employees. In this regard, there is a need to develop a detailed plan for recruiting new professional pilots to work at Southwest Airlines. The presented proposal includes advice on hiring sources, the use of recruitment and training methods for new hires, and an assessment of overall performance management systems, including minimizing voluntary turnover.
Of the existing recruitment sources, the following three appear to be the most suitable for recruiting new pilots. First, internal sources of recruitment will be used, including promotions and transfers. It will create a workforce loyal to the company. Internal recruitment sources are beneficial for the pilot profession, as they guarantee applicants’ professional experience. Simultaneously, long-term work for the company suggests that new employees will be less inclined to leave the organization.
Internal recruitment sources will also ensure that new employees need less time to adapt to a new role and professional responsibilities. Further, the use of promotions and transfers will regulate the number of generated resumes and increase the percentage of resumes that can lead to accepted offers. The time for filing a vacancy will also be reduced, and the cost of filing a vacancy will not be imposed. It is also suggested to use external sources, including cooperation with government employment agencies and campus recruitment.
Working with government agencies will help attract candidates who have served in government agencies. The expected volume of CVs generated will be low, as employees rarely leave well-paid public sector jobs. On the other hand, the predicted percentage of resumes leading to accepted proposals will be high. Besides, to fill the open positions for junior employees vacated after transfers and promotions, it would be wise to resort to campus recruiting. Since HR managers will only work with trained young professionals, this will generate a large volume of resumes with a high percentage of resumes leading to accepted offers.
Three Methods for Selecting New Pilots
Further, it is recommended to use the following three methods for selecting new pilots. After receiving the resumes, it is necessary to conduct screening to include only candidates who meet the job requirements. Screening can significantly reduce the scope of initial applications and ensure that the recruiting manager will conduct more personal testing of useful and valid candidates. The screening can be based on automatic verification of the candidate’s resume data compliance with the required data.
The next step in the recruitment selection process is a personal interview. The interviewing process evaluates the candidate’s non-verbal cues and unique qualities, such as behavior in stressful situations, self-confidence, and reaction speed. Moreover, personal interviews allow finding out how relevant the professional experience of the applicant is. Therefore, face-to-face interviews provide an opportunity to verify the validity, usefulness, and reliability of candidates. The third important step is candidate screening, including background checks and drug tests. This stage helps to ensure the legitimacy and reliability of candidates. After a background check and drug test, candidates will be offered to start the probationary period.
Methods of Pilot Training at Southwest Airlines
All pilots must have flight experience of the specified number of hours. However, each time they join a new airline, pilots undergo four to six weeks of training on the company’s aircraft. The three recommended pilot training methods constitute three stages of special training. First, all new employees attend the Systems classes, during which they become familiar with the aircraft’s technical equipment and check all switches and sensors (McFly, 2015). For young pilots, this is a critical stage when they get to know the aircraft model on which they will fly in the future. More experienced pilots can brush up on their knowledge during these classes.
The second stage of training is learning aircraft-specific procedures. At this stage, new hires take an exam to know and complete the necessary pre-flight procedures, including adjusting sensors and switches before starting the engines (McFly, 2015). They also study the processes that are followed after each flight. It is noteworthy that to fly the Boeing 777, pilots set more than 200 individual switches before the flight (McFly, 2015). A practical exam in a simulator ensures that the pilot remembers all the necessary information.
The third and final training stage includes two phases – training on a flight simulator and real-time flights in a simulator. During the first phase, the pilots work with simulated flight characteristics while in a simulator, which accurately replicates the aircraft and has a super-modern visualization. At this stage, the pilots learn to fly aircraft in extreme operating range situations and cope with emergencies (McFly, 2015). Examples of such problems are bad weather or engine failure. The pilot’s task is to land the plane successfully and safely. The second phase involves flying in real-time in the simulator and requires more concentration from the pilots. Besides, pilots no longer receive prompts from instructors and must perform all the necessary actions independently.
The three presented methods allow ensuring the effectiveness of training. These three methods cover the application of the pilot’s theoretical, practical, and procedural skills. Training and development costs are high, as some flight simulators can be as expensive as a small private jet. However, such costs are justified as a flight simulator is the only way to prepare pilots for emergencies and avoid air tragedies. This training method provides the highest efficiency since it is not uncommon for pilots to land the plane in extreme situations and save their own lives and the lives of passengers due to understanding the only correct option for action in an emergency. The presented three methods of training and development of employees eliminate any risks.
Managing Pilot’s Performance
Promoting employees and providing them with valuable feedback implies the need to implement one effective performance management method. The most reasonable decision is to create skill growth schedules following the assessment of technological efficiency, which involves assessing the technical qualifications of an employee. Typically, pilots take additional simulator exams once or twice a year so that HR managers can keep a record of employee professional development. Although pilots carry out real flights daily, working on the simulator allows evaluating the pilot’s behavior in extreme situations and improving their weak skills.
Employee assessment based on flight simulator exam results is strategically aligned to job requirements for pilots. The evaluation of the technological efficiency of pilots is also justified from a practical perspective. Flight simulators are designed as exact copies of aircraft and are a complete analog of real flights. It ensures the reliability of this performance management method. The accuracy of the flight simulator allows for the acceptability and specificity of the method. Therefore, this method is most useful for providing feedback and promoting of pilots.
Pilot Retention at Southwest Airlines
The pilot retention approach in Southwest Airlines should consider employee retention practices, pilot satisfaction, and costs. Experts point to several critical issues that are driving the turnover of pilots. After raising the retirement age for pilots in 2007 from 60 to 65, there has been severe disenchantment with the profession among young pilots (Barden, 2019). As a result, about 40% of US pilots will retire over the next seven years (Barden, 2019). Another problem is high training costs and increased flight hours from 250 to 1500 hours for charter pilots (Barden, 2019). These general trends suggest the need to attract and retain younger pilots under the age of 40. All pilots are faced with the fact that they very rarely see their families and receive their support.
As a result, many employees, whose employers provide them with no more than 24 full days off a year, plus vacation, are forced to leave the profession since they do not consider such sacrifices justified. By comparison, the average employee has 110 days off plus two weeks of vacation (Barden, 2019). The first tactic that will form the employee retention approach will be a humane approach to creating an adequate work-life balance. It will meet the pilots’ needs for rest and moral support. Since pilots are paid high salaries, most airlines practice ‘golden handcuffs’ – annual allowances ranging from $ 50,000 to $ 120,000 (Barden, 2019). This method is a short-term pilot retention measure, extremely costly, and very effective. However, to ensure more sustainable employee loyalty, managers should create an environment that allows pilots to develop and feel valued.
Thus, the proposal presented a roadmap for recruiting, training, and retaining new employees. When hiring, recruiters will predominantly use internal resources and will also partner with government agencies and campuses. It will increase the percentage of potentially eligible candidates. Further, new employees will undergo four to six weeks of training in three stages. Pilot performance and professionalism will be assessed semi-annually through technical proficiency testing using a flight simulator. High salary additions, ensuring work-life balance, and creating a welcoming atmosphere will help retain Southwest Airlines employees.
Barden, S. (2019). Six ways to find and keep new pilots. Web.
McFly, M. (2015). Insider Series: How are major airlines’ pilots trained? Web.