Southwest Airlines (SWA) recently budgeted an estimated $23 million for new uniforms for its nearly 42,000 employees, but instead of hiring a clothing company to come up with the new design, Southwest went to the source–its employees—to help with the creative process. That sends an unmistakable message to employees that their opinions matter, that what the employees want is important to the company.
Forty-three employees made up the design committee (selected from about 500 applicants). They factored in weather, functionality, comfort and safety. Their designs were met with overwhelmingly positive employee approval. Following testing and adjustments, the new uniforms for flight attendants, gate agents and ramp workers will be ready in 2017.
Southwest likes to say that it values its employees. In this case, it has again shown that it puts its money where its mouth is. That makes all the difference between engaged and disengaged employees. Employer-employee relationships like these set companies apart from their competition.
Southwest Airlines is consistently listed by Glassdoor as one of the best places to work. That should come as no surprise. Most businesses still stubbornly think that squeezing everything they can from their employees will improve profits. That may work in the short term—until employees flee in droves–but it’s not a successful long-term strategy.
Southwest Airlines is also rated as the fourth top performing large carrier in the world, according to Aviation Week. Southwest’s success and profitability is a logical consequence, to a large degree, of how they value their employees. When employees have a stake in a company, studies consistently show that profits follow.
Companies do not need to spend large amounts of money to show employees that they truly matter and are appreciated. Any such effort in that direction will pay off for the employer with greater employee morale and productivity, which naturally lead to greater profits.
For more on the story of how the Southwest Airlines’ uniforms were designed, go to http://airwaysnews.com/blog/2015/10/12/new-uniforms-on-the-horizon-for-southwest-airlines/