No Image Available

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

The ribbon is fraying


As I’m on holiday this week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to repost a blog entry from a while back. It's a good one, though - in my humble opinion! Normal service will be resumed when I’m back, next week.

There was a fascinating report on the BBC website yesterday about India’s second biggest airline, Jet Airlines. As a result of hundreds of pilots calling in “sick” at the same time, the airline had to cancel 120 flights, stranding thousands of customers. The “sickness” continued for a second straight day yesterday (9th September) with the number of flights cancelled increased to over 200. As I’ve been working on the employee engagement workshop I’ve mentioned previously, it came as a timely reminder of what can happen when employees disengage.

This dispute arose after the sacking of two pilots for (it is alleged) their participation in setting up a new pilots’ union but Jet has a history of, shall we say, fractious employee relations having sacked 1900 staff last year, only to call them back to work 48 hours later after a change of heart. Relations between the two sides currently seem somewhat acrimonious, with the chairman of the airline describing the pilots as behaving like “terrorists” and holding out the prospect of closing the airline down entirely.

When I talked about this previously, I described engagement as a continuum and it seems to me that, as employees disengage from their employer they begin to engage with something else. In the case of the Indian airline pilots, they seem to have engaged with a sense of their own solidarity and self-worth, with representatives of the pilots claiming that they “want their voice back in the company”.

The thing that people want most is to be listened to and understood; if we feel ignored, we tend to take whatever action we can to ensure that someone pays attention to us. On the face of it, the Jet Airlines dispute stems from the pilots not feeling a part of the company and being denied any other way of expressing their views. In the current economic climate, this dispute is the last thing the airline needs but it goes to show that employees who disengage from their employer can, potentially, bring a large company to its knees.

A colleague once described organisations to me as “a bunch of volunteers held together with a ribbon” – it’s a beautiful image and I’ve never forgotten it. It perfectly describes the fact that no force keeps those volunteers together and at any point they can scatter into as many directions as there are people.

No Image Available

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!