American Trying To Catch Up to Delta’s Culture Advantage

For about a year, American has been trying to improve its employee culture as a way to improve its bottom line. However, progress has been slow.  A recent article highlights some of the challenges, including claims from flight attendants that new uniforms are making them sick, slow progress on some union contract negotiations, and profit sharing that lags the industry.  Since 2008, American has paid out profit sharing only twice –1.5% in 2013 and this year’s 3%.

American’s CEO stated that while its competitors have created “enormous value” through cultures that emphasize taking care of employees so they can take care of customers who then take care of shareholders – “Delta already has this advantage” – American is struggling. “I wish we were further along, but we’re realistic about what we’re trying to do here.  It’s an enormous effort at a really big airline with a history so different than what we’re trying to build,” he added.

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