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Southwest Airlines - Tone and Vision

Autor:   •  July 1, 2018  •  Case Study  •  1,800 Words (8 Pages)  •  44 Views

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Southwest’s Tone and Vision

James Bennett

BUS-552 Leadership – Excelsior College

February 18, 2018

        “The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit” (Southwest Airlines, pg 1). Southwest also makes a pledge to their employees, “we are committed to provide our employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest customer” (Southwest Airlines, pg. 1). These are the two mission statements from Southwest airlines. The most intriguing part of the statements is that there is a strong commitment to employees before discussing profits and other financial goals. This analysis will focus on determining if Southwest lives up to their promise to employees and their focus on customer satisfaction.

        Southwest couples their mission statement with their vision statement, “to become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline” (Southwest Airlines, pg. 1). Southwest was number 2 in 2016 and then earned the top spot in 2017 as the number 1 low-cost airline carrier in the United States. JetBlue was number 1 in 2016 and then were surpassed by Southwest this previous year. These rankings were provided by J.D. Power. Southwest Airlines has been consistently ranked number 1 in customer satisfaction which is stressed in their mission statement from the beginning. The rankings help support the notion that Southwest is actually living their mission statement and not failing. Their vision of becoming the most loved and most flown airline is occurring due to their high ranking. Southwest also is the only domestic airline with 44 consecutive years of profitability which supports their vision statement. Southwest also has the largest market share of passengers with 24% in terms of originating passengers according to the United States Department of Transportation.

        These above facts help support that Southwest Airlines is actually living up to their mission and vision statements. Southwest Airlines accomplishes these feats because of the culture they develop as a company. This culture begins at the top of the food chain with CEO Gary Kelly. Kelly has a leadership style that is unique to a Fortune 500 company, which ranks in the Top 10 consistently. Kelly is not the type of CEO that is not approachable, but rather uses a laidback style of leadership. Kelly believes great customer service begins with happy employees. There are several ways Southwest ensures their employees are the happiest which then causes them to offer great customer service.

        Southwest offers their employees of up to 12 weeks paid maternity leave where it is not mandated by the US, and only 16% of all other companies offer that incentive. Southwest also has one of the best 401k plan in the countries. Kelly and Southwest believe in helping their employees have a secure financial future. “Southwest will match Employee contributions dollar-for-dollar up to a range of their eligible salary between 8.3 and 9.3 percent” (Southwest Airlines, 2018, pg. 1). Southwest also does something else unique and offer every single employee a profit-sharing plan. “Contributions are a percentage of their eligible salary and have ranged from one percent to nearly 16 percent over the past ten years” (Southwest Airlines, 2018, pg. 1). Southwest was one of the first companies to offer this benefit. This is just some of the many benefits that Southwest offers their employees. They also offer free travel for the employee and their dependents, leadership programs to allow the employee to reach their dream job within the company, tuition reimbursement to allow the employee to pursuit a degree, and finally they allow employees to purchase company stock at a 10 percent discount. These benefits are some of the best in the industry and allow Southwest employees to relax at work and not have to worry about their financial future, health insurance problems, and even allows them to grow.

        Kelly has ensured these benefits have not been taken away even in times of economic hardship. Southwest Airlines commitment to their employees has directly caused the incredible rating of customer satisfaction. The mission statement goal is to provide the highest quality of customer service and this is definitely occurring. This has been shown through the current ranking in 2017 from JD Power and their continued commitment to their employees. The pledge to their employees is upheld through the benefits they continue to offer to every employee. Southwest invests in their employee because their vision is that if employee turnover is low then employees become experts at their jobs and allow for the best experience for the customers. Southwest also promotes from within first before searching for an outside replacement. This gives employees incentive to not only become experts at their job, but learn the next higher ranked job to allow for a promotion. These small, but yet effective methods that Southwest uses helps support their mission and vision statement.

        The tone is set by the company CEO, Gary Kelly. He believes everyone is equal and that is part of their business strategy as well. Southwest does not have first class seats, and almost everyone boards according to when they check-in 24 hours prior. There are no assigned seats, because he believes every seat is great. There are some incentives if you are a frequent Southwest customer such as A-list priority boarding, but otherwise everyone has the same opportunity to check-in 24 hours in advance and receive a boarding number. Kelly embraces this strategy himself. “Kelly doesn’t priority board. He doesn’t take a seat upgrade. He waits like everyone else, and he sits in the back” (Connley, 2017, pg. 1).

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