How Delta Adapted During Covid Through Internal Mobility
Amid uncertainty caused by the global pandemic, Delta Air Lines needed to create new programs, processes and safety measures to support employees and customers. To support these new programs, Delta assessed their current talent availability and quickly learned that they had an opportunity to align supply and demand. While many employee groups experienced reduced work hours as the industry faced an unprecedented decline in customer demand, other teams needed additional support.
With a focus on employee redeployment, job shares and targeted internal communications, Delta pivoted from using Avature technology to recruit thousands of external candidates a year to leveraging the platform to launch an innovative internal mobility program in record time.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, Delta Air Lines is the U.S. global airline leader in safety, innovation, reliability and customer experience. Powered by employees around the world, Delta has led the airline industry in operational excellence for a decade, while maintaining a reputation for award-winning customer service.
The Pandemic Halts the Travel Industry
In Delta’s case, a typical year would have included processing more than one million job applications to fill around 7,000 external jobs on average. Instead, the global pandemic resulted in a temporary hiring freeze and voluntary departure program. This combined with more than 40,000 employees who took advantage of the company’s voluntary leave of absence options, generated a never-before-seen workforce distribution.
"Everything in March came to a screeching
halt from our flights to our hiring."
Myria Peek Manager of Talent Acquisition Technology, Process and Analytics at Delta
“So, we had a talent surplus in some areas and gaps in other areas”, Peek explained. “But Delta wanted to make sure we were taking care of our business and our employees”.
A “Gig Approach” to Talent Mobility
Focused on the needs of all their different stakeholders, Delta designed a two-phase program driven by the flexibility of the Avature platform, which they had been working with since November 2019. The first phase focused on identifying candidates in progress and delivering targeted communications that would retain relationships with them, guaranteeing that applications would be reevaluated once things got back to normal.
“Transparency and a focus on the candidate and employee experience are among the organization’s core values”
Manager of Talent Acquisition Technology, Process and Analytics at Delta.
The second phase focused on employee redeployment, job shares and targeted internal communications. By leveraging tools that were previously implemented for specific talent acquisition goals like sourcing, engaging and hiring top-tier candidates, Avature’s flexibility allowed Delta to repurpose the platform to fit their talent mobility needs with ease.
“In the spirit of maintaining business continuity, our talent team realized that we could use Avature to help pull people from areas of surplus and help fill those areas of deficit or gaps”, Myria Peek, Manager of Talent Acquisition Technology, Process and Analytics at Delta.
Delta leveraged Avature to activate a dedicated landing page for hiring leaders to identify talent gaps, and for employees to express interest in “special assignments,” from a diverse range of internal employment and upskilling opportunities both within and outside their scope. “We created a sign-up page on Avature that allowed our hiring leaders to say ‘I need some help because I’m inundated with calls because I work in reservations’ or ‘more than half my team took a leave of absence to support the company and I need this help’”, Peek explains. “So, our leaders are now able to advise us on those areas and we can advertise those opportunities to employees so they can help out.”
Delta then placed assignment openings on its internal career site, integrating the information with its HRIS system. Thanks to automated end-date management, hiring managers could easily communicate whether the assignment needed to be extended and it facilitated gathering of screening information for special assignments with different candidate eligibility requirements. Overall, Delta utilized short-term assignments to fill positional demands and implement a more efficient “gig approach” to talent mobility.
With Avature’s help, Delta achieved an unbelievable 100 percent use rate of interested employees and provided their workforce with exceptional support in circumstances that were immensely challenging for all stakeholders involved. The ability to spread work around and shift employees into new roles played a key role in helping Delta avoid involuntary furloughs of U.S.-based employees. Moreover, the special assignment strategy allowed employees to build relationships, and showcase and nurture skills that they might not have required in their standard role.
“Now we have these special assignments that can be a couple of weeks here, six months there, three months there”, explains Jeri Lynn Wilson, TA Operations Leader at Delta Air Lines. “Those special assignments that aren’t really job changes but temporary in this horizontal career path, lead to learning a new segment of the business and, ultimately, make you a better candidate down the road when there are more vertical options”.
Ultimately, the most impressive aspect of the whole endeavor was not only the results, but also the circumstances in which they were achieved, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. Through it all, Avature’s ability to make changes intuitively and on the go was key to enabling the program. “Being agile and delivering rapidly is something that will set talent teams apart and really help you add value to the business”, concludes Myria Peek.