United Airlines' Employee Lottery On 'Pause' After Fierce Backlash

United Airlines replaces quarterly bonuses with a lottery angering some employees

Fierce criticism caused United Airlines to put the brakes on a lottery system meant to replace its current employee bonus program.

U.S. carrier United Airlines has suspended plans to implement a lottery bonus system.

"We announced a new internal program based on United meeting certain operational and dependability metrics as a way of offering meaningful rewards to our employees", said a United spokesperson in an email with Inc.com.

The conflict began out in the open last week, after the Chicago Business Journal reported that United was eliminating the performance bonuses eligible employees had been receiving each quarter and replacing them with a program called core4 Score Rewards.

Instead, employees would enter a lottery system that doled out big prizes, including $100,000 cash and a Mercedes-Benz C-Class sedan. Of roughly 500 comments I read, four were positive (and three of those were from the company's vice president for human resources, responding to the negative comments). Now, in the quarters that the airline reaches its performance goals, employees who have flawless attendance that quarter will be entered into the lottery.

One of the comments made by unhappy employees focused on the timeliness that United Airlines has been able to achieve over the last two years; as the most reliable airline operating in the United States, switching to a lottery system for the goal of rewarding employees who make this reliability possible does not make sense.

"They took away our quarterly incentive bonuses, and changed it to a deplorable new system that only rewards an elite few", said the petition.

It felt like we had just gotten to a place where employee morale was up.

Many consumers criticized the move on social media, and both journalists and analysts ridiculed the program.

The post also complained that employees did not receive a $1,000 bonus after the new tax law passed. United Continental has about 88,000 employees.

Yesterday, United President Scott Kirby told workers that the company was "pressing the pause button" on the lottery, and taking time to "review feedback".

The lottery system, with about $18 million in rewards per year available for rank-and-file workers, may have cost the company far less. "We're going to pause this and make sure we gather employee feedback to create a program that excites our employees to continue running a great operation".

Now United says it was a 'misjudgement'.

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