Southwest Airlines has it Right

This employee retention speaker and employee retention author loves to fly on Southwest Airlines.  Why?  The employees are engaged and have fun.  That fun translates to dealing with the passengers.  I love to listen to the flight attendants do the briefing at the beginning.  Instead of the standard blah, blah, blah memorized lines you get some creativity.  That creativity actually gets people to listen so you get a better end result.  Some of the creative things the flight attendants say even make people laugh and have fun as well.  Wow….what a novel idea…customers having fun.

I am picking on other airlines in the process but also picking on other businesses as well who have their customer relations people on such a tight leash that they have no discretion and sound like robots.  When I talk to a robot I start to get irritated.  That irritation gets fed to the employee and the employee has got to be even more miserable.

Engagement is one of the factors that drives employee retention.  It is not the only one but it is an important one.  Everyone does these engagement studies, then looks at them and says “we have to work on that” and then do little or nothing to solve the problem.  Employee engagement is really about letting your people be themselves so that the passion that is in most people can come out.  Yes, you do have to train them on customer service (which a lot of organizations don’t do) so they know what they are doing but then you have to get out of the way and let them be themselves.  Let them put that special flare into their job.  That is how you get engaged employees.

This employee retention trainer thinks back to his days as an HR leader.  In some organizations, I was much more open and engaged because of the latitude that I was given by my boss or the corporate culture.  In those places where I was given some latitude, I was much more fired up, excited and harder working.  It just felt good!  Everyone talks about Southwest as such a great example.  Well, maybe it’s time to take a lesson from their book and give your employees some discretion to put their personality and some of their own special flare into their job.  Your people will be more engaged, happier and more likely to stick around.

Jeff Kortes

jeff@humanassetmgt.com

Jeff Kortes is an employee retention expert who speaks and conducts workshops regularly in Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Indiana. He draws on his experiences as a human resources professional, father, coach, martial artist and U.S. Army veteran to provide thought-provoking programs that yield results.