Southwest believes, and practices, that its employees are family and the culture is entirely informal. Teamwork is the watchword and practiced from the top down. The entire strength of 32000 plus employees work with each other, help out each other, indeed reach out to comfort and support co-workers facing difficult times even in private lives. The company has nine labor unions but they are nowhere like their counterparts in other airlines. In the last decade, there has been only one strike lasting six days by machinists.
It has the lowest cost per available seat mile in the industry at 7.1 cents that is 30% lower compared to its nearest rivals United and Continental. It is a lone operator that has no code-sharing arrangement with any other airline and flies from point to point with no concept of hubs.
The primary image of an organization is akin to family, clan or tribe where relationships, needs, feelings, and skills are the characteristics of its members. The objectives are empowerment, liberation, fulfillment, and self-actualization of both the individual and the group and the challenge are how to develop an attitude to achieve this goal.
There are three assumptions to all HR theories. Organizations serve human needs. People and organization need each other for this service. It is critical that people and the organization are in complete harmony to fulfill this purpose.
The most valuable assets of any business are its people. This is one fact that is singularly recognized at Southwest. Therefore they have a created a People Department instead of the HR department to give it a more humane face. Whereas in the aviation industry and indeed in other industries too, Human Resources represent a professional, structured and therefore very stiff-collared concept, at Southwest it means entirely the opposite.