WEATHERING THE STORM
With the latest events impacting all businesses on a global level, companies are suffering from the pressures of the global economy. Many businesses are in survival mode – finding any way they can to reduce spend, initially looking at controllable costs like marketing budgets and then their workforce. Certain industries like our own, the travel industry, have been hit hard by the economic slow down and government restrictions. But how do you keep your people, both working and no longer working, motivated and striving during such an unpredictable time? Culture.
Companies with a genuinely strong employee culture, who ‘walk the talk’ in terms of their commitment to providing a supportive and rewarding working community, will see their people return that commitment and loyalty tenfold. At Flight Centre Business Travel, we’ve had to go through the same painful processes that many other companies have had to in order to remain fit for the future for both our people and our customers.
What’s getting us through is our culture; despite these challenging times we’ve seen our culture become stronger than ever. As part of Flight Centre Travel Group, our staff culture is consistent worldwide. From our fun-loving Aussie attitude to our reward events and incentives like our annual Global Gathering. We promote to all our staff ownership, egalitarianism, and entrepreneurial flair. These are the cornerstones of this culture, it’s what unites our people from all levels – operations and consultants to senior managers and global leaders.
Belief in your people
You’d be hard pressed to find any company in the travel sector that hasn’t had to make some difficult decisions over the last few weeks. We’ve relied on our people to do the extraordinary, finding solutions to the seemingly impossible. One of our team members was online from 6pm on a Sunday evening through to 4am the next morning, booking countless travellers home. We helped customers who gave up waiting on hold to an airline for over five hours and had them booked within minutes. We got 20 school kids home from Morocco and 15 miners back from Guyana within hours of borders closing. The list goes on…
Many companies may be struggling right now to ask more from their people or to motivate them during this straining time to think outside the box or go over and above. As a company with an immensely strong culture our advice at this time is to remind your people why they are with you. Having a workforce that genuinely feels part of a bigger organisation where they are valued will only manifest in understanding and resilience during times of change.
Collaboration is key, whilst making sure everyone feels part of the bigger picture. It’s also beneficial for communication, visibility and cooperation to get what is needed done. At Flight Centre Business Travel we’ve focused on this at local, regional and country level, where openness has been reflected by awareness from our people. Those who have had to stand down are demonstrating exceptional understanding of the need to take these steps in order to protect our business in the long term. Those who remain are working even harder with fewer people to continue supporting our customers. Our leadership teams are committed to supporting our people mentally and physically whether furloughed or still actively working, throughout the coming weeks and months.
Our top tips for communicating our culture during this time:
- Video calls – not just in meetings but genuine updates. On the weeks leading up to now our Managing Director of Flight Centre Travel Group EMEA, Steve Norris hosted video updates and FAQ sessions to keep the whole company informed.
- Keep things real – we’ve created groups and conversations for our people to collaborate not about work but to share their home work-out tips or what they’ve been cooking at home.
- Unite – across all brands under the Flight Centre Travel Group and across all our countries we’ve begun sharing ideas, tips and workloads.
- Be in it together – although many of our people been furloughed we created an environment where those that are no longer working could communicate to each other with their personal contact details. Isolating doesn’t mean you can’t connect with people.
Weather the storm... together!
And as the world waits to flatten the curve, a lot of hope within our organisation remains. Despite the obvious slowdown in bookings, our people are using the time to upskill and further expand their travel knowledge, connect with clients, write travel blogs and spend time with each other (over Zoom of course). Our people take care of each other because that’s just what they do. They genuinely care which inevitably permeates through to their outstanding care for our customers.
When demand for travel returns – and it will return – we will encourage staff to come back to the Flight Centre family.
So, when we turn around in a year and ask ourselves how we got through 2020, we’ll know that it was down to businesses like us, with positive company culture, that can weather the storm together.