Solutions to Reduce Employee Turnover

June 23, 2022
As the industry looks to recruit new members to its workforce, it is imperative that we invest in the professionals who are already trained and contributing to safe ramp conditions.
Josh Smith, editor, Ground Support Worldwide
Josh Smith, editor, Ground Support Worldwide

As airlines continue their ramp-up following the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry has faced the challenge of meeting an increased demand for travel while operating with fewer employees.

Across the commercial aviation landscape, including in the ground handling sector, members of the workforce were furloughed or laid off in order for companies to survive the impacts of global lockdowns. But as flight traffic increases and ground handling jobs have become available, people can be selective about the job or career they choose as many other industries are competing to hire people from the same labor pool.

The ground handling industry must continue to recruit new members to its workforce. But as competition for new members of the workforce intensifies, it may be even more important to retain current employees.

I had the opportunity to speak about labor issues with Nick Careen, IATA’s senior vice president of operations, safety and security, during the 34th IATA Ground Handling Conference. He noted the industry must always be prepared for some workforce turnover but added today’s level of turnover is not sustainable.

To encourage new and veteran employees, alike, to remain engaged, Careen noted apprenticeship programs and career mapping could be valuable tools.

“This industry is known for being able to move within it – probably better than any other industry that exists,” Careen said, who began his own career in the industry as a crew scheduler.

“Being able to illustrate that that’s possible would also be very attractive to bring in more talent.”

A lack of standards from one location to another could also be a detriment to employee retention. However, Careen pointed to the concept of standardized training programs and training passports as a solution. He explained this idea would allow for someone to train in one location and then to take their credentials with them, and have those certifications be recognized in any other location in the world.

“It would be able illustrate the ability of movement of the workforce because there’s quite a bit of movement in this industry in terms of that, especially on the frontline and the ground operations area,” Careen said. “So having those credentials that travel with you, in a standardized training approach, will definitely help in the future in terms of allowing for better retention.”

The technological advances taking place within the ground handling industry may also be crucial to employee retention. As the industry becomes more automated and continues to rely on technology, people with new interests could find their way to ground handling.

“It’s not just about throwing bags,” Careen said, adding the industry needs to demystify the role ground handlers serve and clearly demonstrate the direction the industry is headed in regard to technology.

As ground handling leaders look for ways to standardize the industry and find solutions for employee retention, individual organizations must continue to be innovative and find creative ways to keep employees happy in their roles and interested in staying.

Has your business found success in retaining skilled personnel? What methods have you utilize to improve employee retention? I welcome your input and feedback on the topic. Email me at