This year marks the 10th consecutive year in a row that Southwest Airlines has ranked as one of Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work, based off of reviews and satisfaction from company employees themselves.
Today, the airline has become known for its people-first approach and its company culture, which provides employees with a range of perks and a warm environment to maintain a workplace that continues to attract and retain its employees.
To this day, the airline has never had a layoff or cut pay.
Southwest Airlines has long set itself apart when it comes to its company approach, becoming the first airline in the industry back in 1974 to introduce a profit-sharing plan with its employees.
Since then, the airline has continued the tradition for some four-and-a-half-decades, with its latest numbers in 2018 marking more than 40 years the company has been offering its employees this perk.
“It can be crazy to do that in any business, but to do it in aviation and know we were able to do that while others were laying employees off is a pretty remarkable feat,” Greg Muccio, Southwest Airlines’ Director of Talent Acquisition, told Travel + Leisure.
In addition to its ProfitSharing Plan, Southwest Airlines also offers a strong 401(k) plan that includes a dollar-for-dollar match for employees up to a range of their eligible salary between 8.3 and 9.3 percent.
“If you put together the profit sharing and 401(k) offerings, every year for the last three to four years I’ve had the opportunity of giving some 20 percent of my salary back in this form,” Muccio said. “That's somewhere between a month and half to two months of extra salary.”
Employees can also choose from a range of healthcare coverage options, with medical options that range from PPOs to high deductible plans, while stock purchase plans allow for purchasing Southwest common stock at a 10 percent discount.
Travel perks include at least three weeks of PTO days by the first year of employment, and the ability for both employees and their eligible dependents to fly for free with the airline as much as they like.
Employees' parents are also able to fly on the airline for free, while perks also include “heavy discounts” on tickets with certain airlines, rental car packages, and hotel bookings.
When it comes to getting a position with the airline, there’s a specific combination of attributes they look for in an employee.
“We call it living the Southwest way, but it’s folks that have a warrior’s spirit, a servant’s heart, and a fun-loving attitude,” Muccio explained.
Most of the interview questions and discussions are motivation based, with interviewers asking candidates the reason behind why they did certain things, whether it was leaving their prior job or applying for the current one.
Candidates can expect a combination of behavioral-based questions, like how they’ve dealt with upset customers when it comes to customer facing positions like working as a flight attendant or at the call center.
They'll also be asked how they’ve handled situations out of their control, as they’ll find they have no control over weather conditions when working in positions like gate agents.
Interviews, which are handled in a conversational tone, also include a large amount of teamwork-related questions.
Close to 60 percent of the company’s positions do not require a college education, including most positions outside of airports.
The airline also tends to give full-time offers to about one third of its intern pool, offering college internship programs that allow interested parties to work at the airline’s headquarters or at airports in various cities like Chicago, Denver, and Houston.
They also offer workforce development activities for those in kindergarten through 12th grade, including aviation days and summer camps for children of employees interested in learning more about the airline.
But of all the benefits that come with working for the company, the best might be the culture people can expect day in and day out.
“The real thing is better than anything you’ve ever read about; it’s a lot of fun because you’ll walk someone in and people will wave and say hello, and they think, ‘Wow, you must really know a lot of people here,” but I don’t,” Muccio said.
“It’s just that we smile and say hello to each other, and you’re allowed to do that…you’re allowed to have fun at your job and bring the fun piece of your personality to what you do here,” Muccio said of the airline's work environment.
For those interested in exploring a career with Southwest Airlines, Muccio will be speaking on Feb. 27 as part of Glassdoor’s Best Place to Work Live event, with a free livestream available to tune in from home.