United Airlines replaces quarterly bonuses with a lottery, angering some employees

A United Airlines flight attendant walks through the airlines terminal in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport
United Said It'll Give Out $100K Prize. Workers Despise the Idea
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07 March, 2018

"Our intention was to introduce a better, more exciting program, but we misjudged how these changes would be received by many of you", Kirby said in a memo to employees obtained by Reuters.

The company is "pressing the pause button" on any changes to the bonuses, President Scott Kirby said Monday in a message to employees, just three days after announcing the new approach.

United Airlines is rethinking a plan to replace its modest monthly bonuses with a lottery system that would have offered large rewards to a few workers at random.

"We announced a new internal program based on United meeting certain operational and dependability metrics as a way of offering meaningful rewards to our employees", said a United spokesperson in an email with Inc.com.

"As we look to continue improving, we took a step back and chose to replace the quarterly operational bonus and flawless attendance programs with an exciting new rewards program called core4 Score Rewards", Kirby wrote.

The Chicago-based airline decided last Friday to change their employee bonus program to a tiered, lottery rewards system with prizes that included vacation packages, luxury cars and up to $100,000 in cash. The Chicago-based airline also added a new wrinkle: To be eligible, workers needed flawless attendance for the quarter. Other employees stated that the lottery system does not appeal to them and could thus opt out of participating simply by not doing a good job.

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"When no one "qualifies" because they called out sick due to the most terrible flu in years, or sick children, or life ... the company just makes more money for itself", she wrote. "It was unilaterally determined by management", Ken Diaz, president of United's chapter of the Association of Flight Attendants, said in a letter to his membership.

The post also complained that employees did not receive a $1,000 bonus after the new tax law passed.

The carrier employs about 88,000 people around the world.

According to United's latest earnings report, employees earned approximately $30 million in incentive payments for achieving operations performance goals in the fourth quarter ending in December, and approximately $87 million in earned bonuses in 2017.

Now, United says it is "pressing the pause button" on the program as it reviews employee feedback.

Instead, the airline will be reaching out to employee work groups to make changes that "better reflect [employee] feedback".


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