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Ed Bastian on the importance of financial well-being

Delta CEO Ed Bastian has authored an open letter to business, government and community leaders on the importance of financial well-being and solving the problem of financial insecurity.
Headshot of Delta CEO Ed Bastian
Ed Bastian
Chief Executive Officer

As CEO of Delta Air Lines, Ed Bastian leads 100,000 global professionals who are building the world’s premier international airline, powered by a people-driven, customer-focused culture and spirit of innovation.

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This week, Delta Air Lines is doing something extraordinary – paying $1.4 billion in profits directly to our employees, a profit-sharing arrangement for frontline workers unmatched in its scope and impact. Every eligible Delta employee will receive a check that, this year, totals more than 10% of their annual salary. It’s something we do every year on Valentine’s Day to demonstrate our gratitude and love for our people, who serve our customers and ensure their safety and comfort every day.

This year’s payment is no anomaly. Over the past 10 years, Delta has shared more than $1 billion in annual profits with our employees seven times. All told, since we began our profit-sharing program in 2007, the company has paid our employees $11 billion. We are unaware of any major company in our country with a comparable level of success sharing.

Rewarding our people is fundamental to Delta’s values-centered business model. But writing well-earned checks isn’t always enough. Recent data indicates more than 50% of Americans don’t have access to $1,000 in savings in case of a financial emergency. That creates an enormous amount of stress and uncertainty for families across our nation. While we can’t solve the problem for everyone, we wanted to help Delta employees achieve a level of financial security by boosting their savings and financial wellness.

That’s why last year, we launched the Emergency Savings Program, in partnership with Operation HOPE and Fidelity Investments. Participating employees can earn $1,000 from Delta to fund a rainy day account, along with individualized coaching and a host of tools from Operation HOPE and Fidelity to enhance their financial literacy and well-being.

More than 21,500 Delta employees have participated in the Emergency Savings Program since it launched in January, helping Delta people strengthen their financial wellness through online instruction, one-on-one coaching and an emergency savings safety net.

The results have been remarkable. Since the start of the program, more than 35,000 Delta employees have begun contributing towards an emergency savings account. Over 21,000 have completed the program, earning a $1,000 safety net contribution from Delta – and 94% of that group have kept money in their accounts, allowing it to accumulate interest until it’s truly needed for an emergency. Most participating employees are actively growing that safety net with their own earnings, on average saving $74 from every paycheck via payroll deduction.

Establishing an emergency savings account has had a significant impact on the lives of participants. Among employees surveyed, those who reported being able to save for goals other than emergencies more than doubled after completing the program. In addition, surveys taken before and after employees completed the program revealed a:

  • 62% increase in those who felt they have control of their finances.
  • 42% increase in employees who are confident in their ability to cover a $1,000 expense with emergency savings.
  • 33% increase in those who felt able to save for retirement.
  • 41% increase in those who said they can spend less than they earn.

We recently published a white paper with more detail on Delta’s Emergency Savings Program.

At Delta, our No. 1 job is taking care of our people – our success flows from this simple concept. Sharing profits with our people, along with providing tools and education to help manage and grow their wealth, is part of our responsibility as a values-led organization. All of us at Delta, Operation HOPE and Fidelity hope our efforts can serve as a model for other businesses and organizations that are seeking to better serve all of their stakeholders, including their employees, while helping to solve the serious issue of financial insecurity that faces millions of American families.

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