SOUTHWEST AIRLINES: THE ROLE OF HUMAN RESOURCES IN IMPLEMENTING BUSINESS STRATEGY AND HIRING PRACTICES

Topics: Human resource management, Human resources, Airline Pages: 19 (4497 words) Published: December 16, 2014
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES:
THE ROLE OF HUMAN RESOURCES
IN IMPLEMENTING BUSINESS STRATEGY AND HIRING PRACTICES

By: Aric Hall
Completed in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of
OM 5210 – Human Resource Management
Capella University
Winter, 2007
Address:
City, State, Zip:
Phone:
E-Mail:
Instructor:

P. O. Box 952
Bullard, TX 75757
(903) 894-8780
arichall@yahoo.com
Phillip Randall, PhD

Abstract
This short paper is an overview of Southwest Airlines, its strategy, and what role Human Resources plays in the implementation of that strategy. Particular attention is paid to the hiring and promotion practices, and how Southwest Airlines selects individuals based upon their fit with the organizational culture. A portion of the paper is devoted to assessing and measuring the effectiveness of HR’s efforts and what metrics and analyses might be added to improve the assessment.

Hall, p. i
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

i

Introduction

1

Company Overview

1

Analysis of Strategy

3

SWOT Analysis
Rewards System
Role of Human Resource Management
Hiring and Promotion Practices
Metrics – Assessing the Effectiveness of HR

5
6
8
11
12

Conclusion

14

Bibliography

15

Hall, p. 1
Introduction
Southwest Airlines is known for two key things. One, it has a fun-loving corporate culture. Second, it is the only airline to have consistent profitability for over 30 years. Southwest’s strategy is unique to itself. However, it is important to understand what role toplevel and functional-level managers play in implementing strategy. Human Resources has a key role in recruiting, hiring, selecting, promoting, and training personnel who will be a good fit with the strategy and with the fun-loving organizational culture. Company Overview

The mission of Southwest Airlines is a dedication to the highest quality of service delivered with warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit (Mission…, 2007). The company also strives to provide opportunities for learning and personal growth to each employee. Creativity and innovation is encouraged, for the purposes of improving effectiveness. Perhaps most important, employees are to be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that the employees are expected to share with the customer. Southwest Airlines was initially created to be a low-cost alternative to high price of intraTexas air carriers (Freiberg, 1996). Strangely, Southwest’s fares were originally structured to compete with car and bus transportation. It was a little upstart airline, and it would withstand the test of time, survive court challenges, and overcome all obstacles even with an increased need for capital. As a discount, no-frills airline, it would wage war with larger airlines. Part of their strategy was to operate at low cost, for the most part offering no food, no movies, no first class, and no reserved seats. They created their own market niche and increased turnaround times at the gate, by avoiding hub-and-spoke airports and opting for short-haul, direct flights. Through

Hall, p. 2
this unique market approach, Southwest boasts a super majority of market share in the markets they serve.
Although all companies are in business to make a profit, Southwest claims that their primary goal is not profit maximization. However, they have been consistently profitable by making air travel affordable to those who previously could not afford it (Freiberg, 1996). Southwest often says the customer comes second, showing their devotion to employees. By taking care of their own, the company encourages employees to take care of the customers. Employees are to think and act like they own the place, serving customers, creating new ideas, exhibiting a fun culture, and increasing profitability. The market value of Southwest has been greater than that of all other airlines combined (Gittell, 2003). Southwest has remained profitable through...

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