How Investing in Safety Improves Morale and Employee Retention

April 14, 2022
Communication, organization, motivation and appreciation are critical factors to ensuring a safe and happy work environment for ramp service agents.
Safety Decals
Anthony Valente
Anthony Valente

What is the airline industry’s biggest investment? High-tech equipment? Awesome aircrafts? When it comes down to it, it is the employees that are the core of the airline industry. The employees are the gears that turn the company and keep it functioning. It seems cliché to say “build it from the ground up,” but it is simple and it works.

The COVID pandemic shattered many of the functioning systems that companies had in place. And, along with this, employees were lost. Now, in rebuilding company structures we are seeing the struggles of finding new employees and retaining them.

A strong foundation means a strong company, and in the airline industry, the ramp service agents are the place to start. They do so much of the behind-the-scenes work to ensure that an aircraft is ready for take-off and all of the customer’s baggage is handled properly and delivered to its destination.

For these employees to do their job, it is paramount that the industry ensures that they are safe, first and foremost.

Beyond safety, the interactions to help make their job easier and show appreciation for all they do is key to retaining them. Four critical points to hold onto your biggest investments are, communication, organization, motivation and appreciation.


Communication is essential to convey your message to every employee.

Your message could be one of functionality or safety that your employees must all be aware of. Your message may also be directional signage so employees can navigate their paths or other informational systems.

Customized signs, banners, way-finding systems, decals, floor signage and equipment decals all need to be in place to implement a cohesive system to keep employees safe and informed.

During these COVID times, it is even more important to have clear, meaningful signage and decals to assist employees in their everyday operations.

By using tools to aide employee relationships, such as communication boards that have important messaging, leaders can motivate ramp service employees to have pride in their work.


In addition to communication, organization needs to be taken into consideration. There are many intricate layers that come together to keep the airline industry efficient. Organization within each of these layers is crucial to communicate your message.

Companies need to be able to supply items and materials to make sure that there is a consistent system in place to make organization easy. Leaders who stress safety and consistency and implement systems to carry out safety initiatives instill confidence in their employees.

Motivation and Appreciation

The third and fourth key points, motivation and appreciation, work in tandem to retain employees. There is an understanding that, in any work environment, employees want and need to be appreciated and that spurs motivation.

The tools a good leader uses to keep moral up and focus on the concerns of employees will not only retain staff but motivate them to perform at their highest levels. When employees feel empowered and respected, they remain loyal to their company. The company that cares for their employees produces employees that care for their company in return.

Understanding this is imperative.

There are many ways for a company to show their appreciation to their employees. Company clothing items, awards and other small company logoed items are a great place to start. Making sure to recognize your employees will go a long way in building up their motivation to work harder for the company that appreciates them.

Benefits of Retention

Communication, organization, motivation and appreciation all merge together to create an experience for each employee, where they feel valued as part of the bigger picture of the company no matter what level they are at.

Leaders who stress safety in the workplace and practice it, give confidence to the team that they are concerned about everyone’s well-being. Proactive safety recommendations and suggestions provided to leaders enhance and promote safety. Reflective decals for equipment, warehouses, back offices, and safety bulletins and checklists for employees to use provide numerous benefits, as do safety awards that promote safety in the workplace.

Employee turnover (churn) impacts an operation negatively due to the cost of new hires and training.  The average cost to hire a new employee is about $3,500. 

Ramp experience is a crucial aspect. Responsibility for $100 million aircraft is a key component where new hires need time to understand and watch out for the many moving pieces in the operation.  Safety is also a factor. Because of those moving pieces, new hires need to be trained to be safe for themselves, others and the expensive machinery they are working on and near.

With current workforce shortages, these issues are magnified. With an average of more than 20 percent, and more in some cases, the impact of employee turnover is real and needs more focus.

However, an operation can benefit when new hires are added with a focus on continuous safety and awareness.  It also brings new vision to the workforce and more excited employees who start work. It keeps the operation fresh with new eyes, and new ideas.

When employees know that safety is the top priority, they will feel appreciated and want to stay with the company. Going above and beyond, exceeding expectations and being original in thought and action will keep your most valued asset – your employees – happy, prosperous and retained.

Tony Valente is executive vice president at Safety Decals. He has more than 35 years of extensive experience in the aviation industry, with 30 of those years in an executive leadership position. At Safety Decals, his responsibilities encompasses director of operations and sales growth. He is also tasked with contributing to the company’s marketing and business strategies.