Our Employee Strategy

Ensure the highest level of employee committment & performance.


In 2016, the Airport Authority launched two new employee recognition programs: Sustainability Champion of the Year and Innovator of the Year.

The Sustainability Champion award recognizes an individual or a team for significant achievements and commendable performance that furthers our sustainability goals and exemplifies our values with a meaningful return on time and resources invested throughout the year.

For the inaugural year, the Airport Authority presented the Sustainability Champion award to a cross-departmental team of employees who devised the airport's Food Waste Diversion Program, which diverts food from local landfills to a greenery composting process and significantly reduces food waste and waste management costs.

Another positive benefit of the program is that it provides food to members of the community in need. Airport food donations are given to Feeding San Diego (part of the Feeding America network), which distributes them to various community organizations such as the San Diego Rescue Mission.

The Innovator of the Year award recognizes an individual or a team for significant achievements and commendable performance that furthers our innovative goals and exemplifies our values with a meaningful return on time and resources invested throughout the year.

The Innovator of the Year Award for 2016 was presented to a team of employees from the Facilities Maintenance Department who conceived of and executed a plan to install Zenn Valves, a plumbing valve system that reduces air in the water distribution system. This helps provide a more accurate measurement of water flow through the airport's water meters, which ultimately saves the airport money.



Cultivating Talent

In 2016, the Airport Authority had an 11.5 percent increase in the number of female new hires and number of millennials hired over the previous year. The organization’s turnover rate by males doubled compared to the previous year and turnover by females decreased by half. Turnover by age remained relatively consistent with the previous year.

Six veterans participated in the Authority’s Fellowship program in 2016, which is designed to help Veterans transition from active duty to the civilian workforce. The Veteran Fellows also attended sessions on resume writing, networking, business communication, and interviewing.

As the workforce continues to transition, the Airport Career Experience (ACE) Internship and Take Flight programs continue to engage and inspire a new generation of airport workers. This year, the Authority hosted 11 ACE interns and five graduate interns. And, through a series of hosted panel discussions, diverse pools of young students engaged with a wide array of airport professionals in the Take Flight program.


Some of the main recruitment challenges faced by the Airport Authority are an aging workforce, increasingly competitive job market, and higher costs of living in San Diego compared to other metro areas in the U.S.

Look Ahead

SAN continues to work to align leadership and frontline employees with the needs of the upcoming 5-year Strategic Plan. While traditional talent acquisition efforts focus on hunting for talent when vacancies occur, SAN continues to focus efforts on talent farming, sowing seeds that will inspire (Take Flight, Veterans, ACE) and engaging (Leading at All Levels, Managers Roundtable, Career Development) a new generation of airport industry professionals to meet these needs.


Employee Committee Facilitates New Ideas on Safety

In 2016, the Airport Authority re-introduced the Employee Safety Committee. All departments have a representative on this committee to share safety communications, address concerns and suggest ideas.

This committee launched a new Heat Illness Training and new Vehicle Operator Training in 2016. The Authority finished the year with an OSHA Recordable Incident Rate of 4.49, a 29 percent reduction of workplace injuries from the previous year.


The Authority works hard to continually update employee safety programs, monitor small contractors who provide services to the airport and ensure all employees are compliant with their required safety training.

Looking Ahead

The Airport Authority will launch a new online ergonomics program and a new hazardous chemicals management program in 2017.




in workplace injuries


Innovative Model Spurs Collaboration

With its new Performance Management System, the Airport Authority is infusing a culture of coaching throughout the organization. During 2016, all Airport Authority employees received performance and career development reviews. However, these reviews focused not on judging the employee’s past performance, but rather, they focused on coaching to achieve optimal future performance.

Coaching is intended to be a collaborative effort between managers and individual contributors, or employees. The manager’s role, as coach, is to develop talent that will help the organization successfully achieve its business goals. The contributor’s role is to deliver job responsibilities to model the Authority’s values and to create a goal that stretches individual performance toward a successful outcome.


With the new performance review system, the Airport Authority’s managers are working to better understand how to collaborate with each of their employees to develop a coaching plan that is as individual as the personality of each employee. As such, it has pushed managers to move away from being an "evaluator" and towards being a "co-creator." This has moved many technical experts out of their comfort zones. Coaching cycles are four months long and come around very quickly.

Look Ahead

The Airport Authority will continue to provide support by conducting workshops and roundtables during each coaching cycle. The workshops will focus on hands-on practice and include topics such as, "How to Write a Coaching Plan" and "How to Conduct a Coaching Conversation." The roundtables will provide a venue for managers and staff members to discuss some of their concerns as well as successes with their peers.


Chief Auditor’s Office

Under California law, the Airport Authority must have a full-time, independent internal auditor, who directly reports to the Airport Authority Board. The Chief Auditor’s Office serves this role by providing oversight on business practices and executing audits to assist Airport Authority management in maintaining the financial and operational integrity of the Authority.

The Chief Auditor’s office is also responsible for managing the Airport Authority’s Ethics Program and responding to any allegations of Ethics Code violations. In fiscal year 2016, three ethics or workplace issues of concern were investigated and none were deemed a violation. In addition, all new employees in 2016 (11.62 percent of the organization) completed formal ethics training as part of the onboarding process.


No significant challenges were noted in 2016. All allegations, whether submitted through the Ethics hotline, web form, or in-person, were fully reviewed and investigated, if warranted.

Look Ahead

The Chief Auditor’s Office will be conducting its biennial training on the Ethics Code and process for all Airport Authority departments in 2017.


The Chief Auditor’s Office will be conducting its biennial training on the Ethics Code and process for all Airport Authority departments in 2017.


State Praises SAN's High-Tech Approach

In 2016, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority received an award from the California Department of Pesticide Regulation for innovative Integrated Pest Management. The Airport Authority rolled out the program in 2012, working with Cartwright Termite and Pest Control, to educate airport tenants on how to report pest problems, pest-proof stored food, and keep pests away.

Cartwright's iPad-based program logs about 900 inspections monthly at many airport locations. Communication among the Airport Authority, pest management professionals, and airport tenants has reduced infestations and eliminated the need for most pesticide sprays. The airport is an industry leader in sustainable practices and is the recipient of several environmental stewardship awards.