Recruit for Passion - The Southwest Way
In the 21st century, companies still recruit with the nineteenth-century methods. They post a set of requirements and try to rope the candidates in with money, title, and brand. Hiring managers and recruiters mostly look at often bloated resumes to search for experience and skill sets to match people with positions. Once in the company, employees who get into these jobs very often seek the same extrinsic motivators: money and position. They either leave or get disengaged with the firm. As per a 2011 survey by Gallup, seventy-one percent of American workers are "not engaged" or are emotionally disconnected from their workplaces and are less likely to be productive.
Passionate employees who identify with the purpose of the company contribute much more to the bottom line. Companies that create a culture of hiring for passion and purpose outperform their competitors consistently as has been observed by Southwest. Growing consistently in a sector with wafer thin margins and constant pricing pressures, Southwest has thrived where others often fail to survive. Recruiting right people has been a big part of their success story. According to Southwest, they believe in recruiting people not just for skills, but also for three qualities that define passion for them:
Warrior spirit (a desire to excel, act with courage, persevere and innovate)
A servant’s heart (the ability to put others first, treat everyone with respect and proactively serve customers), and
A fun-loving attitude (passion, joy and an aversion to taking oneself too seriously.)
A quick look at Southwest and its competitors' websites show the stark difference in the approach between a leader and the laggards. While Southwest provides a purpose to its potential employees, others are 'glad that you are here', 'career-friendly', or just don't care.
At Southwest Airlines we connect People to what’s important in their lives—that also means connecting our Employees to what’s important in their lives! Our Employees value the opportunity to work hard, be creative, and have fun on the job.
Multiple researchers have shown that when employees are guided by intrinsic factors, they perform better and are more aligned and productive. A meta-analysis by Tim Judge and colleagues reviewed 120 years of research to compile the findings from 92 studies, including over 15,000 individuals. The findings showed a very weak link between job satisfaction and salary.
The old carrot and stick policies of most companies clearly don't work. Employees are not donkeys, so stop treating them like one. If we want employees to be happy with their jobs, money and titles are clearly not the only answer.
Then the question arises: what motivates people and keeps them happy. The organizations that are flourishing give their employees a sense of purpose - give people a reason to get up in the morning and go to work for something they believe in. Hire people who believe in the purpose of the company and are passionate to work for it. Define your company's purpose and spell out the key attributes that you want in your team. Design behavioral interviews to find out whether the applicant has them and hire the right people.
Southwest's purpose: To connect People to what's important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.
Even during the Great Recession, Southwest was one of the few employers which didn't layoff any workers and found other ways to reduce costs. So when they say, "At Southwest Airlines our Employees come first," they mean it. Such consistent self-reinforcing choices have been a hallmark of Southwest in all spheres of decision-making.
86% of employees at Southwest indicated in a survey conducted in 2014 that they were proud to work for it. Southwest has appeared frequently in the list of best places to work. Motivated employees provide better customer service, and better service leads to higher profits, forming a positive feedback loop. No wonder, the company was the #1 airline for Customer Service in 2016. The stock performance of Southwest (NASDAQ: LUV) as compared to their competitors' clearly underscores the importance of having a motivated and aligned workforce. It's not just a management fad to hire motivated, passionate, and connected employees, it makes a lot of business sense!