Would you ask your staff to volunteer over the holidays like Qantas?
Qantas has asked its staff to work extra hours for free
The discussion of company purpose and mission has taken a new turn with reports that international airline Qantas has asked its staff to lend a hand over the busy holiday period.
An email sent to head office staff in Australia reportedly says: “To support our airport teams at [Sydney] over the 2018 peak Christmas travel period, we’re trialling a new volunteer programme for our campus-based people who’d like to lend a hand to the frontline in December and January.”
The airline says it is spreading “Christmas cheer” by asking staff to help with handing out chocolates and water and assisting passengers. A spokesperson has also explained that employees based in corporate offices have traditionally stepped forward “because it’s a chance for them to spend time with customers and airport teams”. Managers and executives are among those who take part.
However, the scheme has hit the headlines as some see the move as putting undue pressure on employees to step up. Christine Pratt FCMI – founder of human resources organisation HR & Diversity Management – called the decision by Qantas ‘cheeky’.
“This is a big ask,” she says. “Christmas is a time for friends and family and employees generally plan months in advance to ensure they are able to take a break at this time of year. One has to ask why Qantas has not planned ahead.”
Pratt explains that legally managers are allowed to request that their staff work extra hours and accepts that “Christmas time can be a joyous and incredibly rewarding time of year to be serving the public.”
However, in a season that gives rise to the low-paid workforce she believes that, in place of pay, an incentive should be offered to maintain morale and goodwill.
“Staff like to feel valued so may be prepared to work longer hours for just a little recognition in return. An incentive may involve peer-to-peer acknowledgement. It may even involve additional annual leave or an exclusive family travel upgrade package – something Qantas would be in an ideal position to offer.”