THIS IS A SAMPLE OF
COURSEWORK 1: WRITTEN REPORT SUBMITTED BY A STUDENT FROM A PREVIOUS SEMESTER OF MGT5A1, REPRODUCED IN ABRIDGED FORM FOR REFERENCE ONLY.
PLEASE READ THE ORIGINAL TEXT IN BLACK IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MARKER’S COMMENTS IN RED, AND THE MARKING GRID AND EXPLANATIONS ON THE LAST PAGES.
Analysis of Southwest Airlines Human Resources Practices
[Used with permission of the original author]
Name: [WITHDRAWN FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS EXAMPLE]
Student Number: [WITHDRAWN FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS EXAMPLE]
Total Word Count: 2312
Main Body Word Count: 1696
(MARKERS’ COMMENTARY IS IN RED)
TITLE PAGE: INCLUDES EVERYTHING NEEDED, LOOKS PROFESSIONAL
Southwest Airlines Organizational Culture. 4
Definition and Overview.. 4
Southwest Airlines Reward Strategy. 7
The Concept of Total Reward. 7
Financial Rewards. 8
Non-Financial Rewards. 8
Conclusion and Recommendations. 8
Appendix 1. 11
CONTENTS PAGE LOOKS PROFESSIONAL, PAGE NUMBERS ALIGN WITH SECTION HEADINGS THROUGHOUT (AT LEAST THEY DO IN THE ORIGINAL SUBMISSION – THE MARKERS COMMENTS WILL AFFECT THE PAGE NUMBERING IN THIS VERSION).
Southwest airlines are a major US low-cost airline that was founded in 1967. The company manages to differentiate itself from other airlines through it’s ‘exemplary Customer Service’ such as free refreshments and snacks, leather sitting, free Wi-Fi which enables live streaming of TV and videos (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014).THE WRITER DEMONSTRATES CRITCAL THINKING BY USING ‘QUOTES’ AROUND ‘EXEMPLARY CUSTOMER SERVICE’ – THIS STATES THAT THE AUTHOR IS SOURCING THIS PHRASE FROM SOMEWHERE ELSE, THAT IT’S NOT THE VIEW OF THE AUTHOR. Furthermore the employees are renowned for their friendliness and entertaining attitude (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014)THE CITATION INDICATES AGAIN IT’S NOT THE AUTHOR’S JUDGMENT ABOUT FRIENDLINESS ETC – TO BE HONEST IT WOULD BE EVEN BETTER TO USE QUOTE MARKS HERE AGAIN, BUT THIS IS PRETTY CLEAR . Southwest Airlines has nearly 46,000 employees and operates more than 3600 flights per day transporting more than 100 million customers annually making them US’s largest carrier. The airline also has the world’s largest fleet of Boeing Airplanes providing 93 destinations in 40 states for its customers. MOST OF THIS WILL BE WIDELY AVAILABLE COMMON KNOWLEDGE, BUT IT WOULD BE NICE TO HAVE A CITATION IF ONLY TO KNOW THAT THESE ARE UP-TO-DATE FIGURES.
This paper will focus on analyzing Southwest’s human resource practices, focusing on Organizational Culture and Reward. The reason why the company is widely regarded as successful, popular and appreciated is because of what is considered by many to be their unique company culture and their ability to employ and train the right people for the job. Furthermore they appear to keep the employees motivated through various reward methods. This way the Southwest flight experience is highly enjoyable for the customers. In contrast to Ryanair who are widely believed to have an objective to maximize profits which results customer dissatisfaction, Southwest Airlines have developed a culture in which the customer is the most important and the profits are lesser of importance. Their company slogan is ‘If it matters to you, it matters to us’ this emphasizes that the company’s objective is customer satisfaction. Continuing the comparison with Ryanair, Southwest airlines have had their fair share of unorthodox yet positive practices, such as having flight attendants singing or playing jokes, entertaining boarding announcements or arm-wrestling fights between rival Companies’ CEOS (Blitz, 2014).
GOOD INTRODUCTION, COULD DO WITH A COUPLE MORE CITATIONS, BUT IT’S OK, LAYS OUT THE MAIN THEMES, EXPLAINS SWA’S CULTURE TO AN EXTENT.
II. Southwest Airlines Organizational Culture
Definition and Overview
Deal and Kennedy (2000) described organizational culture as the ‘the way we do things around here’. However the concept is more complex than this, a broader definition was provided by Eldridge and Crombie (1974): ‘The culture of an organization refers to the unique configuration of norms, values, beliefs and ways of behaving that characterize the manner in which groups and individuals combine to get things done’. THIS IS FINE, BUT IT WOULD GET EVEN HIGHER MARKS IF IT MENTIONED THAT THERE ARE HUNDREDS OF DEFINITIONS, AND THESE ARE JUST TWO OF THEM. Culture is highly regarded in a company because it provides a model for employees to follow at work WELL, IF THE AUTHOR MENTIONED WHO THE CULTURE IS HIGHLY REGARDED BY IT WOULD BE CLEARER. Furthermore a good Organizational Culture can serve as an USP for the company. This is also the case of Southwest Airlines because they provide services which are becoming less common in today’s air travel industry or in some cases quite unique. Having the Organizational culture as a Unique Selling Point (USP) is a very useful trait as it turns your customers into advertisers of the company for relatives or friends. THIS IS GOOD, BUT IT’S BETTER NOT TO USE ‘YOU’ OR ‘YOUR’ IN THIS KIND OF WORK.
Schein (1990) identified that the Organizational Culture of a company is formed of Values, Norms and Artefacts (Figure 1) which will all be analyzed in the following chapters. THIS FOOTNOTE IS A BIT COMPLEX – BETTER JUST TO SAY HERE IN THE TEXT ‘SEE APPENDIX 1’.
Figure 1 (Armstrong and Armstrong, 2009).
Values are the core of a company’s culture. They are beliefs of what is right for the company and what they should aim to achieve (Armstrong and Armstrong, 2009). The stronger the values the more employees will adapt and start following the set of values, in order for this to happen there needs to be 100% involvement starting with the managers. The values presented on Southwest’s website can be divided into two categories values focusing towards consumer satisfaction for example work hard, desire to be the best, be courageous, persevere, innovate etc. There are also values focusing on employee satisfaction and motivation for example have fun, celebrate success and enjoy your work. (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014). However at a closer look one can identify a synergy between the two because the consumer satisfaction values create a better work environment while the employee satisfaction values create better service for the people. The reason behind this is because Southwest promotes values that encourage and motivate its employees to perform well, to interact with each other and customers and have fun. This leads to highly intrinsically motivated workers that will provide a unique experience for the customers.
THIS SECTION IS A BIT FLAWED AS MUCH OF IT SEEMS TO ACCEPT SOUTHWEST’S STATEMENTS WITHOUT QUESTION – IT WOULD BE BETTER TO HAVE PHRASES LIKE ‘THEY SEEM TO SHOW’, AND ‘THEY CLAIM’ ETC. BUT THE MESSAGE IS VERY CLEAR – THE COMBINATION OF EMPLOYEE FOCUS AND CUSTOMER FOCUS CREATES A SYNERGY. ALSO, IT WOULD BE NICE TO KNOW WHICH PART OF THE WEBSITE THESE VALUES ARE PUBLISHED IN, PERHAPS AN APPENDIX TO SHOW THEM ALL.
Norms are unwritten rules that provide tips as to how to perform in the organization and how to act (Armstrong and Armstrong, 2009). Norms are usually passed by word of mouth or behavior. It can serve as a very important tool which can help teach new employees how to act in the organization. In the case of Southwest Airlines there are some norms that can be identified and focus on making the employee feel good and appreciated for example open-door policy or the fact that the CEO takes the time to answer any letters regarding problems and suggestions (Kochan, 1999). Considering Elton Mayo’s Hawkthorne Effect experiment one can say that the Norms that are characteristic for SWA will further motivate the employees and thus their performance will be better.
NORMS ARE WELL EXPLAINED BUT THERE COULD BE A LONGER LIST OF SWA’S NORMS, WITH SOME CRITICAL THINKING ABOUT HOW TRUE THEY ARE NOW (1999 IS A LONG TIME AGO). THE ATTEMPT TO BRING MAYO INTO IT IS USEFUL, BUT NEEDS DETAIL.
Artefacts are the visible and tangible aspects of a company that stakeholders can relate to MIGHT BE BETTER TO ADD THAT OFTEN IT’S THE ONLY INDICATION OUTSIDERS HAVE OF THE INTERNAL CULTURE. Some examples of artefacts are the design of the offices, vocabulary, stories, events organized (Rothaermel, 2013). In the case of Southwest Airlines one can identify for example their annual parties and contests such as ‘Haunted Headquarters’ and ‘Chili Cook-off’ (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014)they seem to further convey the laid back, informal, family atmosphere that the company aims to incorporate.
GOOD EXAMPLES, EFFECTIVE APPLICATION OF THEORY
There are cases in which the company founders mold and shape the organizational culture of a company, their actions might pass the test of time and still be incorporate a long time after they are gone. Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Michael Dell have all specifically molded their company’s organizational culture (Rothaermel 2013). This process is called founder imprinting (NEED TO MAKE IT CLEAR WHOSE IDEA THIS IS – IS IT ROTHAERMEL ‘S?) and in the case of SWA the man behind the organizational culture is Herb Kelleher. The culture that the founders implement is reinforced by their preference to employ and promote employees that resemble the same values. Furthermore people with similar values will be interested to join the company. According to Rothaermel (2013) as the values, norms and artefacts considered by the employees become more similar the firm’s corporate culture will become stronger and more special.
OK, VERY GOOD, BUT A LITTLE DETAIL ON WHAT KELLEHER ACTUALLY DID WOUD BE GOOD – ANOTHER REFERENCE TO THE ARM-WRESTLING STUNT WOULD BE A GOOD THING TO INCLUDE HERE.
Southwest Airlines Reward Strategy
Trevor (2011: 8) defined Reward strategy as a ‘means of enhancing company performance and securing competitive advantage through the alignment of pay strategies, systems, practices and processes to the organizational strategy’. Armstrong and Murlis (2007) identified that the rewards and types of rewards vary from one company to another and that a reward system has to be constantly reshaped in order to adapt to the newest concerns of the employees. The motivators for the workers have changed money are not as important anymore THIS IS A GOOD INTRO BUT THE AUTHOR NEEDS A BIT MORE PUNCTUATION IN THIS SENTENCE TO MAKE IT CLEARER. Nowadays other benefits have to be provided in order to increase the chances of having fully motivated workers.
2. The Concept of Total Reward
The concept of total reward is a model that combines both financial and non-financial rewards for the employees in order to make sure that the employees’ needs and wishes are covered from any point of view in order to keep the worker happy and motivated. These rewards can be intrinsic from the job itself, the base salary, bonuses, fringe benefits and also non-financial-rewards (Armstrong and Armstrong, 2009). THE MODEL REALLY NEEDS TO BE EXPLAINED HERE. ALSO, EVEN HIGHER MARKS COULD BE GAINED BY STATING THAT THERE ARE MANY MODELS OF TOTAL REWARD TO CHOOSE FROM.
Some of the bonuses that SWA offer are profit sharing or stock purchase plans. These incentives can further motivate the employees to have an increased performance and to increase efficiency as was the case with the fast airplane turn-around, however these bonuses are handed as a group therefore it might cause dissatisfaction because some employees will feel they have done a better job than others and therefore deserve to be rewarded more than others. Some other benefits provided by SWA are medical, dental, vision coverage, life and disability insurance. They also have special offer coverage packages for the whole families and retirement savings plans. As a more special benefit they offer Pet Insurance and their ‘SWAG Points’ which can provide the employee with free flights, merchandise and Gift Cards (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014).
GOOD ANALYSIS, BUT:
THE AUTHOR COULD MENTION SOMETHING ABOUT SALARIES AND HOW THEY COMPARE TO THEIR RIVALS.
IT WOULD BE GOOD TO SEPARATE THE ‘PURELY’ FINANCIAL E.G. SALARY, FROM THE ‘BENEFITS’ E.G. MEDICAL ETC
As Non- financial rewards one can immediately identify the previously mention Organizational Culture which makes for a great work experience because they have such a friendly and casual atmosphere. Furthermore according to their website SWA ‘value their people and their goals’ providing, ‘Leadership Training’, ‘Personal Development’, ‘Job Training’ which is intended to encourage long-term motivation and an awareness of one’s own career path. Non-financial recognition is targeted through, for example, different charities that raise money and awareness for different causes. Also there are employee of the month contests. (Southwest Airlines Co, 2014)
GOOD CRITICAL THINKING, GOOD EXAMPLES APPLIED WELL TO NON-FINANCIAL REWARD
Overall one can say that Southwest Airlines attempt to integrate a strong Financial and Non-Financial Reward system that manages to keep employees motivated both extrinsically and intrinsically in the end providing them with a feeling of recognition.
Conclusion and Recommendations
As employees spend more than 40 hours a week in a company organizational culture is essential in order to ensure a good working environment that provides unity, competition???THIS WASN’T MENTIONED AS PART OF THE CULTURE OR REWARD – IS IT THE RIGHT WORD? and loyalty to the company. The Southwestern Airlines Organizational culture manages to provide through its values, norms and artefacts a friendly and pleasant work environment that keep workers happy entertained and motivated while the customers are happy, according to various sources, and build loyalty to the brand. There is no Organizational Culture that is 100% perfect, however SWA have a unique approach to culture and workplace within the airline industry (IT WOULD BE USEFUL TO THINK CRITICALLY ABOUT THIS – THIS ASSUMES THE AUTHOR KNOWS EVERY AIRLINE IN THE WORLD, WHICH IS VERY UNLIKELY, SO THE USE OF THE WORD ‘UNIQUE’ IS A BIT EXCESSIVE – MUCH BETTER TO USE ‘CONSIDERED TO BE UNIQUE’ OR SOMETHING SIMILAR), therefore a suggested recommendation for the organization is to maintain the same culture that makes them so different and appreciated while continuously adapting with small changes to the requirements of the future. A previous example of this is that after 9/11 the company had to change some of its procedures for example rapping while providing flight information might have been a bit too much for the customers who were still in shock due to the sad events (A CITATION WOULD BE GOOD HERE – THIS HASN’T BEEN MENTIONED BEFORE).
Considering the Reward Systems an issue that could be addressed is the Financial Reward System. For example a change from the Profit Sharing Bonuses as a team to Individual bonuses might be required in order to avoid dissatisfaction from employees that feel that the job they have done is of greater input compared to other colleagues. This issue must be treaded lightly because such a change might affect the great teamwork that is required in such an industry, teamwork that Southwest Airlines are very proud of and are excelling at. Nevertheless a change should be considered maybe a yearly appraisal could make employees feel appreciated by the input of their work while also still motivated to work in a team.
SOME USEFUL RECOMMENDATIONS, WE WEREN’T COMPLETELY CONVINCED BY THE IDEA OF MOVING FROM TEAM-BASED PAY TO INDIVIDUAL RECOGNITION, BUT THE THOUGHT BEHIND THE IDEA IS LOGICAL AND COMES FROM A CONSIDERATION OF THE RESEARCH CARRIED OUT.
REFERENCES ARE ALL IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER, THEY ALL HAVE CORRESPONDING CITATIONS IN THE MAIN BODY, THEY ALL APPEAR TO BE VALID AND RELIABLE SOURCES.
Armstrong, M. and Armstrong, M. (2009). Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice. London: Kogan Page.
Armstrong, M. and Murlis, H. (2007). Reward management. London: Kogan Page
Blitz, M., 2014. How an Arm Wrestle Resolved a Major Airline Dispute. [Online]
Available at: http://gizmodo.com/how-an-arm-wrestle-resolved-a-major-airline-dispute-1527658365
[Accessed 01 11 2014].
Deal, T. and Kennedy, A. (2000). Corporate cultures. Cambridge, Mass.: Perseus Books.
Eldridge, J. and Crombie, A. (1974). A sociology of organisations. London: Allen and Unwin.
Kochan, T. A., 1999. Rebuilding the Social Contract at Work:. [Online]
Available at: http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/history/herman/reports/futurework/conference/contract/southwest.htm
[Accessed 12 11 2014].
Rothaermel, F. (2013). Strategic management. New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
Schein, H. (1990). Makten. Stockholm: Bonnier.
Schlesinger, J., 2011. 10 Minutes That Changed Southwest Airlines’ Future. [Online]
Available at: http://www.cnbc.com/id/43768488#.
[Accessed 10 11 2014].
Southwest Airlines Co, 2014. Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet. [Online]
Available at: http://www.swamedia.com/channels/Corporate-Fact-Sheet/pages/corporate-fact-sheet
[Accessed 1 11 2014].
Trevor, J. (2011). Can pay be strategic?. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Schein (1990) suggests that the values and norms are the principal factors in creating an organizational culture, he identifies four key ways, that can also be attributed to Southwest, through which values and norms are formed. There needs to be a leader that sets the standards and serves as a model, one can say that Southwest’s leaders (CEOS) were nowhere far from that. From their attitude or actions (eg: Arm wrestling event) they inspire the laissez-affaire and friendly attitude that the company wants to present. At a brief look on the corporate site, it is easy to see that the CEO tries to form a friendly (‘Greetingsfrom Gary’) yet helpful relation with the customer or the person researching the company(Figure1).
The second way the culture of an organization is formed is through critical incidents which either set standards to follow or to avoid. Once again a moment to relate to is the moment in which at that time Southwest’s CEO, Herb Keller arm wrestled Kurt Herwald CEO of Stevens Aviation. All the money raised from that event was donated to charity this has set a trend for the company, which is now heavily involved in various charities. According to Southwest’s airlines website they are involved in charities related to families facing serious illnesses, militaries and their families, environment, youth leadership, etc. An organizational culture is developed in order to maintain pleasant and effective working relationships. In this case one can relate to the various activities that the employees of the company get into. For example the different team-building events that the corporate provide for the employees such as the ‘Chili cook-offs’ or the ‘Spirit Parties’. The organization’s environment may also affect the way values and norms are formed.
Mini-report on this example piece of work about HR at Southwest airlines.
Grade (out of 20 for each section)
Content: Quantity, variety, quality of information
Excellent – for the length of this piece of work there’s quite a lot of content, good examples which clearly relate to the title and the introductory comments.
Content: Critical thinking; Objectivity
Mostly very good, but occasionally the author demonstrates the belief that SWA is a great company, without enough support, but these occasions are rare. Very good use of phrases like ‘according to’, ‘claim’, ‘says’ etc.
Content: Application of theory
Very good overall, Schein’s model is well understood, each level of culture is presented and examples are given from SWA. The Total Reward framework could be better presented.
Format and structure
Excellent, logical, easy for the reader to follow
Mostly excellent, lacks a few citations for specific information about SWA, but the author clearly understands that every idea that isn’t from the author needs a citation, or an indication of where it came from.
We hope you’ll get the following ideas from the comments here:
Your work doesn’t have to be perfect to get a distinction grade (this one scored 70%)
Please consider your own work, and indeed any formative feedback you have received, in the light of the marking scheme we’ll be using for this Coursework (and see the mini-report above for this example piece of work):
Content: Quantity, variety, quality of information
Content: Critical thinking; Objectivity
Content: Application of theory
Format and structure
 Furthermore Schein 1990 identified four ways in which the values and norms are formed, due to length restrictions they won’t be analyzed in the main body of the report, however they can be found in Appendix 1.
 The employees of Southwest Airlines manage to turn an airplane around in less than 10 minutes. This means that the airplane is cleaned, restocked and passengers are on in that time. (Schlesinger, 2011)
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