Motivation, Ethics, and Conflict Management
Southwest Airlines has come a long way since its start in 1971 with only about 30 employees. Southwest now employs over 30,000 employees. The company has put customers first from the very beginning and many believe that this is the reason for Southwest's great success.
To entice customer loyalty, Southwest was the first airline company to begin a frequent flyer program to reward customers for the amount of miles flown. Since starting this program, many other airlines have followed suit. In addition to the frequent flyer program, Southwest has also introduced several other unique programs for their customers. These programs include senior discounts, fun packs, fun fairs, and ticketless travel.
In addition to being known for excellent customer service, Southwest Airlines is also known for being a great employer. Southwest has a unique approach to motivating their employees. Because of this, Southwest was ranked second in Fortune's top 100 companies to work for and also Fortunes top 10 admired companies. The secret to Southwest's success is simply caring about the employees and treating them as though they matter, because they do.
One of the biggest perks to being an employee of Southwest airlines is free airfare. Southwest gives free airfare to employees, spouses, parents, and children of employees. It is a simple, yet effective benefit to employees. It allows for frequent reunions or getaways.
Another benefit to being a Southwest employee is the profit sharing plan. Southwest Airlines has maintained a profit for the last 32 years. Therefore, profit sharing is very valuable to employees. Profit sharing is a great motivator for the employees also, it allows them to be compensated for all of their hard work.
Southwest believes in communicating with its employees. "Southwest communicates with employees every day through news on their intranet, every week through a telephone news line, every month with a 32- page magazine, every quarter through the financial knowing the score message, and every year through a series of town hall meetings." (http://www.uschamber.com/bclc/profiles/southwest.htm) Communicators must nurture their corporate cultures so that employees understand how their behavior contributes to how their organizations are judged. In the monthly newsletter, employees nominated by their peers for winning spirit are showcased.
Even in the Southwest call center motivational principles are used. In the call center, management holds fun days and internal contests to motivate employees. "Southwest sets an example in this respect. Their call centers are well known for a fun working culture. They always end the week in style. Friday is always a fun day. This creates interest among executives and they look forward to coming to the office to begin their shift." (http://callcenterhelper.com/games/htm)
Beyond the perks and great communication, one of the ways Southwest keeps employees motivated is simply the way that they treat them. Southwest has one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry and receives thousands of resumes annually. The company believes in treating people with respect and honoring them for providing great service to its customers. "In organizations where honesty and integrity rule, it is easy for employees to resist the many temptations today's business world offer" (Blank, D., et.al). The images of businesses have been tarnished because of the scandals that involved companies such as Enron Corp., Global Crossing, and many others. Many people in the community view businessmen as crooks. Businesses manage to do many good things for their communities but because of a few bad moves by public businesses the good things get overlooked.
Southwest Airlines holds honesty and ethics as the cornerstone of how they do business. They have "relied on company values concern, respect, and caring for employees and...
References: Blank, D., Wood, A., Wood, C. (2003). A Matter of Ethics. The Internal Auditor. 60(1)
Southwest Airlines. U.S. Chamber of Commerce. www.uschamber.com/bclc/profiles/southwest.com. Retrieved from the World Wide Web May 11, 2007.
Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine. http://www.spiritmag.com/colleenscorner/index.php
Southwest Airlines-Fact Sheet. http://www.southwest.com/about_swa/press/factsheet.html
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