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How regional airlines are competing for talent in today's job market

May 20, 2022

Regional airlines are a critical piece of the aviation industry, providing much needed transportation services to smaller communities and connecting them to larger cities. Despite their smaller size and scope of operations, regional airlines face a unique set of challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining talented employees. Today, we’ll explore the ways in which regional airlines are competing for talent when recruiting, and the strategies they are employing to stay competitive in a crowded marketplace.

The aviation industry is a highly competitive field, with major airlines like Delta, United, and American vying for the same pool of talent as smaller regional carriers. However, regional airlines have to overcome some additional unique hurdles which make it much more challenging for them to attract and retain employees. One of the biggest challenges is that regional airlines tend to offer lower salaries and fewer benefits than their larger counterparts, making it harder to compete for talent. This was exacerbated by the pandemic, and the subsequent shortages that followed.

Another challenge is the geographic location of regional airlines. Many regional airlines are located in smaller, rural areas where there may not be as much of an attraction for employees when it comes to relocation. This makes it difficult for regional airlines to attract employees who would prefer living in larger, more urban areas.

Signing Bonuses

To overcome these challenges, regional airlines are employing a range of strategies to compete for talent when recruiting. One of the more effective strategies has been offering signing bonuses or other financial incentives to new employees. These bonuses can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the position and the level of experience required.

Flexible Work

Another strategy that regional airlines are using to compete for talent is to offer more flexible work schedules, focusing on the increasing priority set on work/life balance for younger candidates. By offering flexible schedules, regional airlines can attract employees who may not be able to work traditional 9-to-5 jobs, as well as those who don’t wish to spend much of their work week in other cities.

Candidate Experience

Many regional airlines are investing heavily in technology to streamline their recruitment and onboarding processes and make it easier for candidates to apply for jobs. This includes using online job portals, faster background screening companies, and improved workflows. These improved workflows are designed to decrease time-to-fill and reduce the chances of losing candidates to other carriers who move quicker.  These improved experiences also serve as the first engagement new employees have with the airline’s brand, and good experiences are often relayed to friends, relatives, etc., further attracting new candidates and as well as setting the tone for the overall relationship throughout employment. Another important focus is workplace culture. Regional airlines are focusing on creating a positive workplace culture that values diversity, inclusivity, and teamwork. By creating a workplace culture that is welcoming and supportive, regional airlines can attract and hire the right employees – those who are looking for a safe and positive work environment.

Employee Experience

Employee experience is another key factor when it comes to the retention of talented employees. Regional airlines are investing heavily in robust employee engagement programs that provide employees with opportunities to give feedback, participate in decision-making, and contribute to the success of the company. By engaging employees in this manner, regional airlines can demonstrate their commitment to a better experience and create a more positive work environment that retains talented employees longer.

Skills Development and Career Paths

Training and development programs are also becoming increasingly important for regional airlines as well, also focused on retention (as well as attracting new employees). Many regional airlines are investing in skills development, and training programs that provide employees a path to advance their careers. These programs often include classroom instruction, on-the-job training, as well as mentoring from more experienced colleagues.

In addition to these training programs, many regional airlines are also offering career advancement opportunities right from the start. This is not only attractive to younger candidates and employees, but any employees who are looking for long-term career growth and development. By offering these career advancement opportunities, regional airlines can attract employees who are ambitious and looking to advance their careers, while increasing their own retention numbers, and reducing hiring costs in the long run.

As you can see, regional airlines face a range of challenges when competing for talented employees. By adopting the strategies listed above, regional airlines can attract and retain the high quality employees they will need to succeed in in today’s aviation job market.

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