While flying to Orlando, FL, recently to speak at the Florida State SHRM Conference, I smiled from ear-to-ear when I saw a headline in Southwest airlines’ in-flight magazine titled, “The Employee Experience.” Chairman and CEO, Gary Kelly, is a role-model for leadership. If more CEOs took cues from his playbook, maybe they would have 45 years of consecutive profitability too. Kelly’s secrets?
Here are highlights from his letter to Southwest customers:
- I spent a lot of time focusing on employees and ensuring we do everything we can to nurture and grow the connection they feel with the company.
- We treat our employees like family and our customers like guests in our home.
- If our employees love their jobs, they will in turn treat our customers well – keeping you happy and rewarding us with your business and loyalty.
- Of course, this equation also makes for happy stakeholders.
- But it all starts with our employees. Since day one, we’ve hired not only for skill, but for attitude.
- We establish a personal connection with our employees, celebrating life’s important moments, banding together when tragedy strikes, and caring for and loving them.
- The result is a world-renowned culture unlike any I have witnessed in Corporate America.
During my presentation in Florida, I stated, “While there are many benefits to having engaged employees, the grand-daddy of them all – and the one your CEO cares about most – is profitable revenue growth.” It’s not a coincidence that Southwest employees love their jobs, and in turn treat customers extraordinarily well, which in turn produces people like me who always visit the Southwest website first when I have to travel to see if the airline flies to my destination. Now that’s brand loyalty.
WHAT CAN I DO? Re-read the seven bullets above. Do you treat employees like family? Do you hire for skills and attitude? Do you celebrate life’s important moments? Do you care for and love your people? If not, find the person in your organization who owns culture change and employee engagement, and share this blog with them. If no one sits in this critical role, own it. No matter where you sit in an organization, you have it within you to ignite a fire beneath leaders to embark on a journey to change your workplace culture. If Not You, Who?
Jill Christensen is an employee engagement expert, best-selling author, and international keynote speaker. She is a Top 100 Global Employee Engagement Influencer, authored the best-selling book, If Not You, Who?, and works with the best and brightest global leaders to improve productivity and retention, customer satisfaction, and revenue growth. Jill can be reached at +1.303.999.9224 firstname.lastname@example.org.