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By David Harder on March, 9, 2015

The Shocking Truth About Flying on DisUnited Airlines

In mid-January, a sizable group of past and current United Airlines employees signed a petition filed by demanding the resignation of United Airlines CEO Jeff Smisek. It calls Smisek out for cutting costs at the expense of services and taking steps that damage retirees – all actions the group claims to be contrary to Smisek’s sworn testimony before Congress, when he said the 2010 merger between Continental and United would have no “significant” effect on employment on frontline jobs.

At the United Airlines 2013 Investor Day Conference, Smisek made a rather jaw-dropping statement:

“I think you’ll like the changes you see, as we aim to not fall in last place.”

At the time, United’s customer service satisfaction ratings were in the mid-twenty percentile. He posted a new target in the employee cafeterias that he wanted everyone to aspire to hit 31%. Many asked if he was actually suggesting this was the new customer service rating target to which he responded the number represented a “complex metric.”

When Mr. Smisek took over merged United and Continental airlines, he slashed pensions, incentives, expenses and dismembered one of the better cultures in the industry. He cut costs to such a degree that planes have had to make unscheduled stops to pick up toilet paper.

An in-depth case study of employee engagement will be offered in my upcoming book Certain Engagement.

In the interim, the cliff notes are valuable to show you how disengagement can impact all of us.

For example:

  • Unhappy flight attendants routinely turn up the heat in the cabin. Why? If passengers are knocked out they have less work passing out peanuts and drinks.

The next time you think you are coming down with the flu, ask them to turn down the contempt.

  • Pilots have lost virtually every financial incentive to do their best. Now, many purposely slow down flights to get bumped into overtime. If they make a plane a ½ hour late that can equal about $70.00. If 200 passengers are on board and their average income is $30/hour the collective loss is $3,000. The most cynical pilots have figured out how to time a flight so that it arrives as late as possible without getting cited.

The circumstances at United Airlines is a great example of how a single-minded fixation on shareholder value damages the overall brand of an organization, adversely impacts most employees and let’s customers know, in no uncertain terms, they are just not that important.

As Gallup has indicated, only 13% of the world’s workers are engaged. United’s example makes a good case that business leaders are not immune to the great disengagement.

Employee engagement hits all of us virtually every day.

If we have it, our work lives embrace malaise.

If we’re the customer, we feel anything but special.

If we are parents and we have it, we will pass mediocrity down to our children.

Is it time to raise our expectations or continue to put up with them?

All the best,

David Harder
President & Founder
Inspired Work, Inc.
P:  (310) 277-4850


Saturday & Sunday – March 14 & 15

For the vast majority of us, work is the biggest relationship that we have.

We spend most of our hours getting ready for, driving to, being at, coming home and recovering from work.

Inspired Work’s entire purpose is to improve our relationship with work and hence, our entire lives.

We serve the father who is backed into a corner with work that he doesn’t like; the father who does it because he believes he has no option except to keep showing up. We serve the father who finds that life purpose and happiness in one weekend and the children? He ends up being their greatest role model.
  • We serve that brilliant young man who thinks he is stuck as a “gopher.” Three months after the program, he gets his first film deal. Today, he has a gopher.
  • We serve the hard charging career professional who “has it all” except meaning and purpose. She finds the life she was meant to have and has been living it ever since.
  • We serve the loyal employee who did everything by the book as the world changed around her, who realizes in just 48 hours, she has what it takes. She takes off. Now, she changes the world.
  • We serve the powerhouses who are always looking for a competitive edge and a richer, more satisfying life; the ones who come in the door to work on their goals and end up married and with children. We call it irrevocable happiness.
  • We serve the workers who have been on the market looking for “anything” only to realize that when they commit to their destiny, it appears.
  • We serve the career climber who realizes she will never be happy as long as she has to follow orders. She walks out of the room as a new business owner.
  • We serve the executive who’s been boxed into a corner until it dawns on him that a solution was always there. So, everyone wins.
  • We serve the Baby Boomer who just retired and wants a fresh and exciting new life. This is the one who walks in with “option paralysis” and emerges a community leader.
  • We serve the organizations that want a fully engaged workforce, where everyone is accountable for involvement, enthusiasm and collective support.
  • We serve the unhappy attorney who wanted to be a rocket scientist and ends up…a rocket scientist.
  • We serve that worker who got laid off and found his life’s work.
  • We serve the most discerning fans of human potential.



The beautiful Luxe Summit Hotel – (Los Angeles)


Saturday & Sunday – March 14 & 15

About your facilitator:

David Harder

“David and I met on tour years ago, peddling our first books. Since then I’ve seen him help launch many careers. David’s like a heat-seeking missile for finding and fostering a person’s destiny. I don’t know how he does it, but he’s brilliant!”

Linda Sivertsen – Bestselling Author / Book Auteur /

“I first worked with David in his Inspired Social Networking online workshop. After one session, I very quickly joined his Inspired Work Program. David’s particular genius is in helping you crystalize your best vision for yourself and bringing that about in the real world. He has a sincere interest in seeing you succeed in doing something for which you are suited and passionate. After working with David I was able to relaunch my business with a new focus and vitality that has shown tremendous results.”

Luke Reichle – and costume designer for ABC’s  Castle

To enroll or discuss your needs, call (310) 277-4850 or send us a note at
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