United Officially Ends Potential for Employee Lottery Bonus Through 2018

Apr 11, 2018

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United has officially killed its controversial plan to offer employees a lottery-style incentive after much backlash from employees.

In a memo sent to some 90,000 United employees, Vice President of Human Resources and Labor Relations Kate Gebo said that the airline’s existing quarterly operational incentives bonus program will remain as such for the rest of 2018.

The current bonus program rewards most United employees up to $300 per quarter when the airline hits its performance metrics. However, the proposed lottery aimed to take away that guarantee for qualifying employees. Instead, all qualifying United employees who had perfect attendance for that quarter would be entered into a lottery for a grand prize of $100,000, with 10 secondary prizes of either $40,000 cash or a Mercedes-Benz C-Class and 1,350 smaller prizes.

In all, the move to a lottery-based system was a cost-saving measure, slashing employee bonuses by tens of millions of dollars each year.

Employees immediately reacted to the negative change, venting their rage at management in internal United forums. Following the reaction, United soon switched to “pressing the pause button” on the incentive program. Now, we know that there will be no changes — at least through the remainder of 2018.

Gebo indicated in Tuesday’s memo that the decision to keep the old plan in place comes after more than 50 listening sessions around the United network. In addition, Gebo called the feedback the airline received from its employees “thoughtful, honest and passionate.” She continued: “When it comes to operational performance, you want to be rewarded as a team for what is truly a team accomplishment.”

On the other hand, Gebo said perfect attendance is an individual accomplishment and should be recognized by the airline separately.

Although the bonus plan will stay in place through 2018, there’s no guarantee that it will last beyond that. “Looking forward to 2019 and beyond, our goal is to ensure that you feel truly valued for your contributions to United’s ongoing success,” Gebo said.

H/T: Chicago Business Journal 

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