Southwest Airlines: A case study in employee engagement

When the airline asked employees to design their next uniforms, engagement rose. Here’s what your organization can learn from the initiative.

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Roy Nabors has been a ramp agent for Southwest Airlines for seven years. His primary job includes marshaling planes and loading and unloading freight and baggage. When he applied for the position, he never imagined his job function would one day include color patterns and uniform design.

Related: Employee Engagement is More Important than the Customer

Approximately two years ago, Southwest Airlines unveiled a new logo (a heart colored by blue, red and orange stripes). Now, the airline is ready to unveil a bold, bright new uniform design. However, instead of hiring an outside company for the job, it tapped employees like Nabors.

When executives realized it was time refurbish the outdated uniforms, they put out an open call to employees from all departments. Anyone interested in contributing thoughts and suggestions for the airline’s new uniform was welcome to apply. Thousands expressed interest, and the company eventually chose 43 employees.

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