Southwest Airlines’ enviable corporate culture includes appreciation, recognition and celebration. Many have tried to emulate it but without the commitment that makes it a success. Ginger Hardage, their recently retired Sr. Vice President of Culture and Communications shared five myths at Leadercast Live 2019.
Myth #1 Culture is someone else’s job. To promote a fun and healthy work environment, Southwest works to appreciate every Employee through company-wide culture committees. Employees take time to recognize each other formally and informally. They participate in celebrations and recognize life events and milestones.
Myth #2 Posting Our values are on the wall is sufficient. Words on a wall aren’t enough. A company must continually reinforce the importance of culture. The process starts when an employee is recruited and continues through onboarding, training and performance management. Each year over 300,000 people apply for jobs at Southwest Airlines, only 2% meet their standards.
Myth #3 Culture is fluffy. Culture drives the bottom line. Chick-fil-A’s guiding principle is serving others, and they generate more revenue per location than any other fast food chain in the U.S. Trader Joe’s formula for employee engagement results in their status as #1 in financial performance in retail and hospitality.
Myth #4 If I empower my employees, I might lose control. When employees are allowed to take risks and fail, they learn from their mistakes. They share new ideas and come up with innovative ways to solve problems. Learn to celebrate failure.
Myth #5 We can’t afford “culture”. Live your values every day. They’ve learned at Southwest Airlines to live the culture they espouse. Be inclusive in decision making and tell stories that demonstrate your values and culture.
There’s no one correct company culture – every business is different but having consistent and strong values will attract like-minded employees and help you stay competitive into the future.
The road is easier together,