At a time when the entire aviation sector is inactive, with staff sitting at home, many airlines are using different means to keep their employees engaged, and encourage them to utilise this time to catch up on learning. Air Asia India has been encouraging its employees to learn every day and the response has been good so far. Averaging on four hours for each employee every day, the Company has clocked 2,42,500 hours of learning in the month of April!
Anjali Chatterjee, head-people and culture, says, “AirAsia India stands firmly by its core value of ‘People First’ and our focus has been to upskill and train our employees during this lockdown. Till now, we have clocked 2.43 lakhs hours of training in total, with an average of over 80 hours per Allstar”
Apart from learning, the Company has initiated a host of other activities for the workers.
From fitness sessions and fun engagement activities, to learning sessions and speaker sessions by leaders from across industries, it has ensured that each employees has something to do throughout the day and something to look forward to the next day.
As Chatterjee mentions, “Engagement has always played a big part at AirAsia, but during the lockdown it has become a higher priority for us.”
To make sure employees actively utilise the learning opportunities provided, the management has set up clusters of employees in each department. Each cluster is supervised by a cluster manager, who, in turn, reports to the head of the department (HOD). It is the HOD who keeps the top management updated on what each employee has accomplished. In every cluster, there are 20 to 25 employees under one manager.
Being a part of the airline industry, it is imperative we upskill our Allstars with personality development courses and soft skills, in addition to their domain-related training
The day starts with a meeting between the employees and the cluster manager, discussing and planning activities for the day. Each department head evaluates the learning needs for different employees. Based on the analysis, these needs are divided into development, mandatory and functional learning. “The daily rigour that comes with employees connecting with their cluster managers frequently is what has made the whole programme more robust,” says Chatterjee.
Air Asia is using a variety of platforms, such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and technology-skills related courses on Google. There is a lot of focus on customer-centric learning and skills — leadership skills, hiring skills, communication skills and soft skills.
“Being a part of the airline industry, it is imperative we upskill our Allstars with personality development courses and soft skills, in addition to their domain-related training,” points out Chatterjee.
Learning, however, is not the same for everybody. Different functions — such as cabin crew, pilots, engineers and ground staff — have their own technical learning to fulfil according to individual standard operating procedures (SOPs). For instance, the pilots have their own SOPs as defined by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) flight safety and decision making. The cabin crew learn how to serve, how to address the passengers and how to handle in-flight situations similar to what they undergo during the three-month training before their first flight duty.
According to Chatterjee, the transfer from the classroom to the online mode has been a successful one. At the end of the day, each employee fills up the day’s activities in a google sheet, which helps to keep a record of who is doing what. On an average, each employee clocks in four hours of learning every day. Many of the employees, who are part of the ground staff or cabin crew, use their mobile phones to connect.
Putting the ‘fun’ in work
Every day, employees spend one hour with their managers and then another four hours on average learning. To avoid monotony from setting in, cluster managers are encouraged to engage in fun activities with the employees, such as a game of Tambola, which can be played online with live players anywhere in the world. This way, it is not just work, but work plus fun! The Company has also conducted some fun quiz contests along with book-reading sessions to establish a stronger bond between the teams.
Engagement has always played a big part at AirAsia, but during the lockdown it has become a higher priority for us
Air Asia India holds a leadership series, where every day at 5 p.m. leaders from the aviation industry and from other sectors participate. It consists of a speech from the leaders about their own motivations, drives and their personal journey followed by a facilitated question and answer session with the employees. Leaders and employees bring forth their candid selves to these discussions.
Leaders including Puneet Chhatwal, MD and CEO, Indian Hotels Company (IHCL); Aditya Ghosh, former president, IndiGo and current board member, OYO; Sriram Aylur, celebrated Michelin star chef; and Harish Bhat, brand custodian, Tata Group, have been part of the leadership series at Air Asia.
The organisation has also enabled its employees to utilise the range of fitness sessions provided to them by Air Asia’s own trainers on board the company. Yoga and pilates sessions are available for the employees to choose from, any time they want. The trainers for these sessions are volunteers from Air Asia India’s ‘Fun Team’, which is a dance group formed by the cabin crew.
“Since the current pandemic has forced us all to stay indoors, it is imperative we continue to engage and emphasise the importance of a healthy body and healthy mind. Hence, our crew — who have also won a lot of fitness challenges and contests — have been designated to lead the ‘Fun bandwagon’”, concludes Chatterjee.