How to create a fulfilling candidate experience
As the unemployment rate declines competition to hire is steadily increasing, resulting in a market that puts candidate care at the forefront of the hiring process.
Avelo Airlines is a new airline company that wanted to penetrate the aviation market. Andrew Levy founded Avelo Airlines with a simple mission: to inspire travel, offering nonstop flights on previously unserved routes between Hollywood Burbank Airport in California and 11 popular destinations across the Western U.S. Soon, it will fly between Tweed New Haven Airport in Connecticut and several popular East Coast destinations.
The airline’s goal is to offer customers convenience and a smooth experience for low fares. Although Avelo was hailed as innovative given its out-of-the-box thinking and extreme focus on culture, partnership, inclusion and safety, it had one problem.
In order to launch its airline, Avelo needed to recruit executives and a crew in record time — all during the COVID-19 pandemic.
COVID-19 shut down travel, and with it, much of the aviation industry. Airlines suffered tremendous losses with grounded flights and crews. More than 50,000 aviation employees were laid off or furloughed, leaving the airline industry with its fewest number of active employees since the 1980s.
Many experts were forecasting that the airline industry’s recovery from the pandemic would take 5 to 6 years. Despite the risks, Levy, Avelo’s Chairman and CEO, was undeterred. Even with travel restrictions and market uncertainty, he pressed forward to launch and staff Avelo.
With so much on the line, Levy didn’t want to leave his success to chance. That’s when he contacted Korn Ferry. Levy had previously worked with Korn Ferry as the co-founder and president of Allegiant Air.
At Avelo, Levy brought Korn Ferry in to tackle the company’s human capital agenda, focusing on its organizational model and setting its strategy for executive recruitment, executive compensation and culture.
Korn Ferry worked with Levy and Jim Lynde, Avelo’s Head of People, to identify and recruit a strong leadership team. With the help of Korn Ferry’s executive recruiters, Avelo successfully attracted and hired a group of seasoned veterans and emerging leaders.
Next, Korn Ferry’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing team helped Avelo staff the broader organization, including the front-line workforce. Korn Ferry’s RPO team used AI-enabled tools to analyze talent availability and trends to help Avelo find, attract, hire and onboard the most qualified talent, regardless of whether they were actively looking for a new role.
The pandemic required Avelo to engage in a virtual hiring process. To counter the shortcomings of virtual recruitment, Korn Ferry’s executive recruiters worked to strengthen the company’s employer branding efforts. Korn Ferry created a branding strategy that Avelo calls its “Soul of Service.” Campaign materials and messages focused on Avelo’s purpose, values, vision and culture of caring and service orientation. Key elements of the brand focus include taking a safety-first approach and creating an easy and friendly environment for customers.
As part of this branding effort, Korn Ferry helped Avelo develop its “One Crew” philosophy to differentiate the carrier from its competitors. At most airlines, the term “crew member” refers to someone who serves customers in the air. But Avelo wanted to recognize that everyone on its staff contributes to the customer experience.
The “One Crew” approach creates a team orientation and ownership culture to ensure that everyone recognizes the role they play in customer outcomes.
To reinforce its customer-focused culture, Avelo built Avelo University, which delivers specialized cross-training to its team members. The training is designed to reinforce the importance of safety, collaboration and inclusiveness at every turn.
With the help of Korn Ferry’s executive recruitment to accelerate the hiring process, the airline grew from a few dozen crewmembers at the end of the third quarter of 2020 to more than 200 by the end of April 2021, hiring its first pilot class of 14 in only 21 days.
Despite the challenges of the pandemic, On April 30, 2021, the company’s inaugural flight took off.
Levy said, “Building an organization from scratch around a unifying purpose requires finding and onboarding the right people at every level.” He added, “Partnering with the strong Korn Ferry team and Michael [Bell, Korn Ferry Senior Client Partner, Aviation & Aerospace] provides us with the strategic insights and recruiting platform to quickly scale Avelo by finding great people who fit into our culture.”
Lynde echoed Levy’s praise, commenting that “Korn Ferry has truly been a superb and seamless partner as we recruited great crewmembers to start Avelo. From service-focused front-line crewmembers to highly capable leaders, the Korn Ferry team has helped us find, select and bring onboard crewmembers who love working as One Crew to serve our customers. That’s a great outcome at any time — and our Korn Ferry partnership did all that safely and virtually during the COVID-19 pandemic.”