BFS Strengthens from Within
Working at an airport is a challenging profession. With passenger and cargo flights coming and going at all hours of the day and night, most jobs revolve around a 24/7 schedule, and as such, the nature of this business can be difficult to adapt to for some. It takes a dedicated group to be able to handle the stresses involved, and a company that understands and supports their workforce is a key component.
That’s why it was refreshing to see that a company like Bangkok Flight Services (BFS) has taken it upon themselves to innovate and improve from within, and it all starts with upskilling, connecting, and motivating people. We caught up with Mr. Robert Ruesz, General Manager Sales and Ground Services at Bangkok Flight Services, and he explained to us his vision for the marketing and new technology that is helping to improve BFS from within, and is putting them on a path towards future growth and success.
Bringing Value to the Job
Waking up in the dead of night, getting dressed, and heading out to work in the dark is not the ideal situation for most people, but this is the reality for many of the workers working early and late shifts at an airport. For the weary passengers arriving in a zombie like state, shuffling about lost, the assistance of a chipper, well-spoken employee helps them to ensure they reach their final destination. For the ramp operators on the tarmac, they must remain keenly aware of all the happenings around them in order to provide safe and efficient movement of both cargo and passengers. Properly trained employees are crucial to operations.
“Our staff are key to the operations of our business and keeping them happy and content with these types of jobs is challenging,” said Mr. Ruesz. “It’s essential that our people remain skilled and motivated in order to keep operations running smoothly. At Suvarnabhumi Airport, BFS employs over 4,300 people. When a company has this many employees, half the battle is keeping everyone on the same page. I’ve found through my time working at airports throughout the world, that communication is a key component to keeping a workforce motivated. People look for meaning in the jobs they do, and it’s key to make each individual feel that they are part of and contribute to the big picture; that their contribution is important. This is key in terms of productivity and delivering value services to our customers.”
Mr. Ruesz continued, “Creating an environment where people work together is what we strive for. People who feel meaningful, people who feel that there’s a path within the company for them to go beyond is important. There are jobs for everyone, and to attract and retain the best we must offer a professional and enjoyable environment in addition to an attractive package”
Training for Success
It’s expected that turnover is part of the business, and while it can be expensive and time intensive to train every single person hired, it’s still integral and must be done. People leave jobs for various reasons, and while no manager likes to see that the time and money spent is walking out the door, if you don’t invest in training, the people that remain are less competent at their job. In our highly regulated industry, untrained staff is not an option.
Mr. Ruesz has seen the effect first hand that quality training can bring to the business. “A big part of successful training comes from clear communication. Making training digestible and interesting increases the retention of what’s being taught. We plan to integrate short video clips into our basic courses as a mean of improving and increasing the quality of the training we offer. Even just a short clip at the end of a PowerPoint helps drive home your point and increases the chances of an employee remembering what was just taught. Training isn’t just a one-time act, and is something that needs to be done continuously. Combining everything we’ve learned, we are beginning to produce videos that are shown throughout our offices in the airport. Thanks to the numerous screens and televisions available throughout the area, we are able to reach almost all of our employees with our message. In a big company like this, there are many silos that each department gets funneled into. What we’re trying to do is break down these walls, deliver a clear message and generate synergy across departments.”
“We’ve began producing a new program called ‘BFS On-Air.’ This is done in house by the marketing team who are transforming the written newsletter into videos program, this production has been a great success. We’ve changed quite a bit over the years, especially how we communicate internally with staff and enhance training with video support, and this is all part of a large continuous project. Creating videos create a more powerful message with emotion. People tend to remember videos for much longer especially when their colleagues and friends are actors in those. This increases the relatability of what they’re watching. They can then talk and share information and feedback. This is an effective way of enabling two-way communication, and we hope to have more installments in the near future.”
Automation technology is making its way into every aspect of airports, which is an advantage to both customers and the employees. Even in places like Thailand where labor is relatively ‘cheap,’ the benefits of implementing new automation technology are proving to be too good to pass up.
Wherever possible we will aim to replace tedious and labor some tasks with automation. What we’re left with then are jobs that are more fulfilling and rewarding for employees. This however doesn’t mean that labor isn’t still needed but the requirement will be that of a more technically skilled labor.
Mr. Ruesz said, “One area we’re looking seriously into is telematics. The plan is to install GPS in all our pieces of equipment. We can then tell where equipment is, the history where it’s been, charge levels, maintenance information, and much more. We’re starting on the tractors, but the end goal is to have it on all equipment. We will be able to manage in real time what equipment is needed and the system will auto-assign equipment based on its location. This saves both time and money and integrating this into the operation makes the job easier and more fun for employees. We are continuing to focus on better quality of work for our employees, and that is an important goal for BFS.”