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United Airlines employees show how to use data to put your bosses to shame


Despite appearances, the flight attendants were not happy.

(Screenshot from United Video.)

Chris Matizik/Screenshot

Across America, employee relations are sinking to the brink Office.

I’m surprised some crafty producer isn’t already trying to create a new Dunder Mifflin series. Virtual office.

While the bosses shout about their management skills and their extraordinary feats in earning more money, the employees growl in displeasure. And realistically.

They realize that in many industries, bosses have used the pandemic to reduce the workforce and make customers deeply unhappy.

Yes, of course, I’m talking about airlines. The only enterprise Oliver Twist tries to do is to be ashamed of his greed.

As anyone who has traveled in the past year knows, a parlous, pifflehead is messy airline customer service. Canceled flights, delayed flights, lost bags, it’s hard to find out what the airlines did right.

For example, American Airlines pilots make films showing how incompetent their superiors are.

Now United Airlines flight attendants have found an equally cut, if not even more palatable idea.

His union, the Association of Flight Attendants, has decided to let bosses do what customers ask them to do.

No, don’t go online to rail about how useless they are. Well, not exactly. Instead, they’re launching something called the Flight Attendant Promoter Score.

Many companies call the Net Promoter Score to shout about their customer service. If it’s a good score, that is.

It’s a measure derived from a short survey question you’re asked after a flight: “How likely are you to recommend the airline to your friends, family, and random people you meet at bars on a Friday night?”

So now United’s flight attendants score for the airline. Every week. It’s like a rolling glassdoor for all to see, giving a (hopefully) honest reflection of how thoroughly disaffected the flight attendants are with their management.

The flight attendants union says: “It’s common sense that to provide a good experience for United passengers, the people providing the experience need to feel valued and supported.”

Part of its press release was a charm section. However, you may recall that the union prefers to use broad-body sarcasm when referring to its superiors. It recently mocked United’s efforts to do random uniform checks with riveting aplomb.

Now with the Flight Attendant Promoter Score, the consortium said: “Because we are problem solvers, we felt we could provide valuable insight into how management could improve this critical internal customer flight attendant experience.”

And let customers see how terrifyingly we’re actually performing.

Like when you try to call an airline’s customer service line and are told the wait is four hours, so flight attendants say they’re forced to wait a similar amount of time when trying to call United — turns to their rostering to check.

Now, they score whether, among other things, they feel their contributions are valued, whether they feel supported by superiors — especially during difficult times — and whether the staff schedule serves them quickly.

There is a nice twist.

Also: He flew American Airlines, she flew United. The unthinkable happened to both of them

Cheerily, the union concludes: “Responsiveness to flight attendant feedback has a significant impact on our work environment and should have a correlation on United’s NPS scores.”

You see, United Management, we’re doing this to improve your Net Promoter Scores, you like analysts or anyone who listens.

Many industries are currently struggling with employee dissatisfaction. Could it have something to do with employees seeing management profiteering and their self-content rising exponentially?

Personally, I look forward to the day when United Airlines issues a heartbreaking press release to announce that it has increased its flight attendant promoter score.

A headline might read: “We did it! Finally got our employees to like us!”

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