Posted by: Brandon W. Jones | February 17, 2010

Southwest Airlines: Using Human Resources for Competitive Advantage

There are many lessons that can be learned from a successful company. Southwest Airlines is a great example of how the proper use of the human resources department can create a competitive advantage. Many companies say their employees are their most important asset, but relatively few companies act accordingly. I learned from the case study that in big corporations it is actually possible to treat the employees as the most important asset, which in turn it creates a competitive advantage. Southwest Airlines put the needs of their people foremost creating a unity amongst the employees that was very strong.

As Southwest Airlines demonstrated, the people within a company are the most important asset. When the employees feel needed and appreciated they will work harder. In addition, it is very important for the employer to take care of its employees so the employees can trust the company. One of the biggest factors in employee satisfaction is the measure of trust they have in the company.

An additional factor that was very important to Southwest Airlines was allowing the employees to be themselves. Some companies will say that they allow employees to be unique, but they will immediately upon hire try to put the employee into the predetermined mold of what they expect them to be. From the Southwest Airlines case, I was able to learn how to allow people to be themselves. People can be put into a job where they are required to do certain tasks but then given the freedom to make decisions and interact using their best judgment.

Another important factor that leads to employee satisfaction is the employee’s ability to make important decisions without having to constantly ask permission. I have worked in situations where the line was very unclear between decisions I could make and decisions only the supervisor could make; those situations created a great amount of uncertainty in me hindering my ability to work most effectively. I have also worked in other situations where I was able to make decisions without having to ask my supervisor. In those situations I felt more confidence and was able to be a better employee. In addition, the situations where I was given more trust helped me to be more conscientious about the work I did.

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