10 Ways Southwest Creates a Rockin’ Company Culture

Southwest Airlines values its employees more than its customers.

You may be surprised to hear that one of the most successful US airlines has made it this far with that approach, but it actually works. When creating an awesome company culture is embedded in the DNA of the company, the rest follows.

The company’s employees live by three simple guidelines - carry out a warrior spirit, have a servant’s heart, and a fun-”LUVing” attitude. As unique as these aspects may be, they were not created on a whim - these principles were carefully chosen as a means to create an amazing employee experience that is in line with Southwest's strategy. 

Here’s some of the ways in which Southwest lives out its unparalleled culture:

1. Culture Services Department

The Culture Services Department is in charge of making sure every employee in the organization feels included and to promote a fun and healthy work environment.

2. Everyone’s a CEO! (Chief Encouragement Officer)

By giving employees the ability to influence culture and carry out good acts to one another, the effect of a positive work culture amplifies.

According to Dave Ridley, former SVP People & Leadership development at Southwest, “much of the secret to success in life has to do with encouraging people—saying something nice to them and being genuine. You never know what’s going on in people’s lives.”

3. Employees get to have dinner with executives

Company executives occasionally host dinners with a wide range of employees, giving employees more opportunities to be heard and integrated into the company’s strategic vision.

4. Coworkers are like family

Having a servant’s heart means embracing the Southwest family, and helping your peers as if they were your closest relatives.

5. Culture is constantly evolving

One of the most important aspects of creating company culture is acknowledging that it isn’t static - it’s a highly dynamic, breathing concept shared amongst the workforce, and Southwest acknowledges that by constantly adapting.

6. Fun and engaging events

From Chili Cook-Offs to Awards ceremonies, the Culture Services Department plans energizing events for all.

7. Workspaces are designed with culture in mind

Southwest’s Dallas, TX headquarters is designed to revolve around culture centers, where each floor can decorate the space however way they want.

8. Hugging is welcomed and encouraged

If hugs are great in general, imagine what they could do for company culture!

9. Hiring for values

Instead of hiring for specific skills, Southwest focuses on hiring candidates that embody the three primary company values.

10. Leveraging employee feedback

Southwest understands that in order to constantly evolve, it needs to listen to what its employees. This feedback culture is strongly ingrained in Southwest’s operations.

For these reasons, and so many more, Southwest stands out as a company that’s truly cracked culture. And it’s working: 85% of employees say they’re proud to work for Southwest and the company has the lowest number of customer complaints in the industry.


Five to Nine helps you create the company culture of your dreams. From organizing awesome events to leveraging employee feedback, our solution helps craft an amazing employee experience. Request a demo today.