Southwest Airlines Named Best Airline To Work For In 2019

Photo: Southwest Airlines credit Dallas Morning News

Southwest Airlines Named Best Airline To Work For In 2019

The major American airline, Southwest Airlines, has nabbed the 10th spot in Glassdoor’s “Best Large Companies to Work For” annual list. As an airline plagued with various issues in the past year, they seem to at least lock down their employee care game. So how exactly does Southwest Airlines differ in providing its employees with a stellar work environment?

Annual Profit-Sharing

Each year, Southwest Airlines shares its profits with its employees. This year, profit-sharing amounted to $544 million. In more recent news, the airline brand obtained a preliminary settlement with Boeing as the 747 Max being grounded by the FAA and cost Southwest millions in operation profit loss. Southwest announced that they will be sharing $125 million with its employees as part of their profit-sharing benefit for 2020. They effectively showcase that when something good happens to the company, it is their employees that will reap the benefits. 

Expansive Health Coverage

No workplace is completely without risks so protection is absolutely necessary, says Cerity. Southwest Airlines prides itself on putting its employees first and this includes providing world-class protection in the event of emergencies. This takes the form of expansive health coverage that includes medical coverage, basic life insurance, both short-term and long-term disability, AD&D insurance, and many more. This cultivates an environment of less stress and brand trust so employees can go about their jobs without any worries.

SWAG Points

Employees at Southwest Airlines enjoy several other perks like free flights and company-sponsored celebrations. One of their more unique benefits takes the form of SWAG or Southwest Airlines Gratitude points. When employees are recognized by internal or external sources for their work, they earn points that they can exchange for other benefits like guest passes to events for friends and their families. It further incentivizes employee efficiency and excellent customer service. By making their employees happier and giving them something to look forward to, they effectively ensure that the employees are going to give more toward their jobs and ultimately furthering the positive reputation of the brand.

Job Security

In recent years, other large companies have been experiencing a need to downsize their operations. Well-known brands like Cathay Pacific and United Airlines needed to have periods wherein layoffs were necessary to keep operations lucrative. To date, Southwest Airlines have never needed to layoff or cut the pay of its employees. The job security that employees get promotes a culture of commitment between them and the brand itself. Since Southwest employees don’t have to worry about the source of their income, they already have it better than most other workers in the same industry.

Accessibility and Employee Investment

Roughly 60% of the positions available in Southwest Airlines do not actually require a college degree. This makes it highly accessible for people who are seeking employment without a degree to their name. Southwest Airlines has a sort of university which trains employees in a state-of-the-art environment to equip them with the skills that open up promotion paths for them. Beyond career investment, Southwest cultivates opportunities for their employees to spend more time with their families through workforce developmental activities. They even have summer camps for the children of employees to grant them a stronger understanding of what their parents are involved with. This investment in their workforce cultivates a bond of trust and loyalty which can make it hard for any other brand to poach talent from Southwest Airlines. It’s also a good way to plant an interest in the younger generations of an existing employee’s family.

An Attractive 401(k) Plan

Not only does Southwest Airlines care for its employees at present but they also make sure that their employees have a secure future waiting for them. Employees can save for their retirement and the company will match the employee contributions at a dollar-for-dollar percentile. Employees report that regular contributions for around three to four years give them back around 20% of their salary back in the form of retirement savings. Southwest Airlines effectively makes it plain for its employees that their future is in good hands.

Stock Purchase Option

Another way Southwest Airlines effectively shows how they value their employees is through their stock purchase options, effectively granting them a stake in the company’s success. Getting employees invested in the company’s future is not just good for the company—it’s good for employee quality and sustained morale as well. Employees that feel that they have something to gain when the company does well are more likely to be a better example for peers and co-workers.

It is worth noting that Southwest Airlines is the only airline carrier to make it into the Top 25 of Glassdoor’s annual list. If anything, Southwest Airlines provides a best-in-class example of how to generate an attractive work environment. Through their employee care programs, they’ve acquired workers that are happier and more productive. Ultimately, it is the brand itself that reaps the benefits of a happy working crew.

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