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Strategic HR Practices in Emirates Airlines Report


Strategic human resource practices require a business firm to focus on creating value in their internal functions to increase their competitive edge in specific industries they operate in.

This requires a firm to link its organisational culture with its operational structure and business objectives to attain positive outcomes (Boxall & Purcell, 2008, p. 67).

Emirates Airlines is one of the largest companies with operations in the United Arab Emirates and other parts of the world. The company’s vision focuses on sustaining strong leadership to enable it to formulate fresh ideas to keep it competitive in the industry.

The company’s mission focuses on corporate responsibility by participating in different community programs that have tangible communal benefits in different parts of the world.

The purpose of this report is to highlight different aspects of strategic human resource management in Emirates Airline and how they have enabled the company to attain positive results in its operations.

This paper will discuss an overview of strategic human resource management practices in Emirates Airlines and provide an analysis on how they help it execute its objectives in the industry.

Approach to Management

Strategic HRM principles which focus on giving a firm organisational effectiveness to make it more competitive in the industry have been implemented by Emirates Airline.

The firm’s HR systems offer all employees positive working environments that allow them to utilise their talents to improve performance (Boxall & Purcell, 2008, p. 71).

The organizational culture is closely aligned with its mission where employees participate in making crucial decisions which are reviewed and implemented within a short time.

The firm’s operational systems are flexible and this ensures that various crucial functions and duties are performed in different locations to save on costs and time.

Since it is a transnational organization, the firm has a less complex organisational structure which allows all employees to interact freely. The company’s resourcing practices focus on developing its own talent pool and sourcing experienced employees through the internet, recruiting agencies and the media.

Advertising of employment opportunities by the company is done through traditional media and recruitment agencies which the firm partners with. Employees are drawn from 160 different nationalities and they are given equal opportunities to build their skills and talents in the firm.

Adverts target employees with different types of skills who are able to perform a wide range of functions in the firm.

More importantly, the firm constantly looks at changing patterns in the industry that are likely to impact on its operations and updates its employment practices accordingly (Bamber, Gittell, Kochan & Von Nordenflycht, 2013, p. 55).

Some of the external pressures the firm has to consider when changing its HR policies include: legal environment, costs, technological changes, political factors and cultural factors that directly impact on its operations.

The firm’s management team confers with employees before policy changes are implemented and this allows both parties to share ideas about benefits and risks that are likely to be experienced by the firm.

Internal HR Management

Performance management processes enable leaders in a firm to set goals to be achieved by all employees in their workstations to register quality outcomes.

The airline encourages its employees to feel at ease whenever they are at work and this motivates them to focus more on the task at hand. Since the firm observes dynamic work practices, employees interact easily with managers to make them aware about different issues they are facing.

The firm mainly relies on long cycle performance management systems which allow it to use personnel appraisal methods with different criteria to evaluate employees.

Periodic reviews are undertaken and employees that attain positive results are awarded yearly bonuses, travel benefits and promotion opportunities (Bamber, Gittell, Kochan & Von Nordenflycht, 2013, p.60).

This approach allows managers to take note of different factors in the operating environment that affect overall organisational performance negatively.

The firm’s resource base is updated through both talent management and succession planning strategies. During training, employees are equipped with multiple skills to allow them to understand different duties they are expected to execute in the firm more effectively.

This makes them suitable for different functions the firm specializes in to make them more competitive in their work responsibilities.

More importantly, the firm has strong training procedures for new and old employees that increase their awareness about specific work responsibilities they are expected to execute (Exter, 2013, p. 87).

Flexible induction policies reinforce a positive work life balance in the firm and as a result, they get inspired to attain positive results in their workstations. This approach encourages employees to take the initiative to improve their own performance in the firm.

Communication, Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture

The main language that all employees use for communication is English. This allows people in the organization to interact with one another freely to form strong relationships that improve results.

The inclusive diversity policies in the firm have increased the level of integration and cohesiveness thereby allowing all stakeholders to focus more on organisational objectives.

The firm relies on both online and traditional communication platforms to engage with its employees in different locations (Nankervis, Compton, Baird & Coffey, 2011, p. 67).

Since workers perform their duties in a relaxed environment, the firm encourages them to increase their interest in other external activities that are beneficial to their development.

This allows them to exploit their talents in a dynamic organizational environment because existing structures encourage mutual exchange and collaboration.

The firm’s overall practices have elements of both clan and rational cultures. Clan culture is practised through employee collaborations to achieve customer service excellence in these functions; ticketing, onboard services, baggage handling, communications and customer care services.

Therefore, information sharing and team work have made it possible for the firm to stay ahead of its competitors in the industry because of the additional value offered to customers.

Rational culture is used by leaders in the firm to engage employees to improve the way internal systems are designed to improve overall performance.

As a result, middle management teams guide workers on the importance of adhering to high operational standards to elicit positive reactions from customers (O’Connell & Williams, 2011, p. 52).

Therefore, managers are able to gather information to understand various issues that are likely to affect workers’ performance in the firm.

Employees in the firm are encouraged to interact with their colleagues outside the workplace to make them appreciate their diverse cultural backgrounds.

Employees are also encouraged to participate in various corporate responsibility activities and this has improved their perceptions towards the firm’s corporate values and ethical principles.

Employees are encouraged to volunteer in corporate social responsibility events where they get to learn more about the importance of sustaining positive relationships with all stakeholders.

Therefore, this has brought about a high performance culture in the firm which rewards and acknowledges people for their positive contributions to the firm (O’Connell & Williams, 2011, p. 57).

Leadership Style and Change Management Processes

Leadership is a key function which every business organization must take seriously. The leadership style which is used by the airline is a combination of paternalistic and transformational leadership.

The firm’s leadership has infused new ways of thinking into existing organizational practices which encourage employees to use critical thinking skills to perform their duties. Most of the senior executives in the firm have worked there for a long time and they are able to anticipate different challenges before they occur.

In effect, they use knowledge-based theories to make proactive decisions which sustain the firm’s competitive advantage in the industry.

Since the Dubai government is a strong stakeholder in the airline, some of its leaders confer with management to find out the impact of external policies on the firm’s operations (Wensveen, 2007, p. 98).

The leadership model adopted by the firm focuses on both results and general behaviour to inspire employees so that they can become more diligent in their duties.

The firm was forced to change its recruiting practices several years ago to cut down on operational costs. A majority of its employees come from low wage countries and this has allowed the firm to focus on other strategic functions to increase its competitive edge.

Additionally, the implementation of an aggressive growth strategy has increased the number of global destinations it flies to (Hayton, Biron, Christiansen & Kuvaas, 2012, p.70).

More importantly, the firm was among the first airlines to place orders for the Airbus A380 as part of its fleet modernisation program to help it fly its passengers to long haul destinations.

All these growth plans have necessitated a change in the HR strategy because the firm focuses on constant process improvements to sustain its brand value in the industry.

Kotler Eight Step Process

Step 1: The firm’s first CEO Maurice Flanagan instituted excellence policies in 1985 after being chosen by Dubai’s rulers to start a globally recognized airline.

Step 2: Hiring procedures focusing on hiring expatriates from Western Europe and the U.S. Expatriates have served in senior executive positions for more than two decades and this has helped the firm to develop its internalisation strategy.

Step 3: A change vision focusing on equipping employees with high quality customer service, communication skills was instituted by the airline to achieve its strategic objectives.

Step 4: Employees were exposed to a new working culture which allowed them to understand the firm’s vision in the industry and how it was going to be achieved.

Step 5: Adoption of learning centred approach to improve performance and to streamline various functions. Improvement in hiring practices to bring about cultural diversity at the workplace.

Step 6: Performance management and reward systems for technical, customer service and other employees in the organisation to improve internal and external operations.

Step 7: New expansion plans that enable the firm to use modern aircraft for long haul flights to increase connectivity and to provide high levels of comfort to customers.

Step 8: The firm has instituted a corporate responsibility plan that encourages its employees to engage with external stakeholders to make them understand its long term vision.

Change Implementation Processes and Innovation in the Company

The firm has focused on bringing transformational changes that are aligned to evolving overall brand strategies. As a result, employees’ perceptions towards change management processes are more positive because they know there are many opportunities they will gain in the future.

Effective stakeholder management policies have been implemented to encourage all stakeholders to participate in organisational activities. This approach has allowed the firm to increase awareness about its short term and long term objectives in the industry (Hayton, Biron, Christiansen & Kuvaas, 2012, p. 117).

Managers inform employees about specific changes that are implemented in the firm and how they conform to its long term goals. As a result, this encourages employees to work harder to attain positive results in their duties.

The company uses constant learning processes to make its internal as well as external practices more competitive. Since it has more than 62,000 employees, it has diverse workplace strategies that make employees feel that they are appreciated.

Therefore, all employees understand the role they play in the firm and this has stimulated positive thinking in different departments (Taneja, 2004, p. 112). The firm also relies on technology to boost various outcomes achieved by individual employees in their respective workstations.

In addition, employees are allowed to propose new changes in their workstations to improve the quality of results obtained from different work processes. Work systems in the firm are designed to encourage flexibility and teamwork to allow employees to become more creative in their duties (Storey, 2007, p. 76).

This approach encourages employees to propose new ideas which are forwarded to managers for review. As a result these innovative practices have helped the company to achieve a higher degree of service excellence out of its operations and this has strengthened the quality of its brand in the industry.


The firm has a less complex organisational structure that favours quick decision making. Additionally, it relies on technological solutions such as video conferencing to conduct meetings between its managers who work in different locations.

Employees rely on mobile technological solutions to schedule flights in accordance with flight plans of different destinations to minimise delays.

Moreover, the firm’s employees use enhanced technical support systems that rely on high quality mobile technologies to perform other important functions (Lock, Fattah & Kirby, 2010, p. 10).

It is also one of the first airlines that offered electronic booking, onboard multimedia entertainment and other value added services to its customers.

More importantly, the firm has a full time research and development department that identifies specific areas of its operations which need to be improved to boost its performance in the industry.

The airline’s recruitment and performance management processes are closely linked to its long term business objectives and they have increased its competitive edge in the industry.

The airline’s brand has increased in value because it allows employees to use technological tools to make both internal and external work processes more efficient. In addition, the airline has a simple management structure that encourages employees to share information about various work processes easily.

This has helped the firm to avoid duplicating employee responsibilities at the workplace and as a result, it has managed to reduce unnecessary costs. Lastly, work systems in the firm are innovative and they encourage employees to be more creative in their work duties so that they attain good results.


Bamber, G.J., Gittell, J.H., Kochan, T.A., & Von Nordenflycht, A. (2013). Up in the air: How airlines can improve performance by engaging their employees. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Boxall, P., & Purcell, J. (2008). Strategy and human resource management. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Exter, N. (2013).Employee engagement with sustainable business. New York, NY: Routledge.

Hayton, J., Biron, M., Christiansen, L.C., & Kuvaas, B. (2012). Global human resource management casebook. New York, NY: Routledge.

Lock, H., Fattah, A., & Kirby, S. (2010). Airline of the future: Smart mobility strategies that will transform the industry. San Jose, CA: Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group.

Nankervis, A., Compton, R., Baird, M., & Coffey, J. (2011). Human resource management: Strategy and practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

O’Connell, J.F., & Williams, G. (2011). Air transport in the 21st century: Key strategic developments. London, UK: Ashgate.

Storey, J. (2007). Human resource management: A critical text. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Taneja, N.K. (2004). Simpli-flying: Optimizing the airline business model. London, UK: Ashgate.

Wensveen, J. (2007). Air transportation: A management perspective. London, UK: Ashgate.

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"Strategic HR Practices in Emirates Airlines." IvyPanda, 25 Jan. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/strategic-hr-practices-in-emirates-airlines/.

1. IvyPanda. "Strategic HR Practices in Emirates Airlines." January 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/strategic-hr-practices-in-emirates-airlines/.


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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Strategic HR Practices in Emirates Airlines'. 25 January.

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