Case 16


Having Fun at Southwest Airlines


Submitted To: 

Dr. Gary Roberts



C Monique Grimm


This report will attempt to answer the following questions associated with the case study, Case 16, Having Fun at Southwest Airlines, presented in Schermerhorn’s book of management. 

1.                  What needs were Southwest’s employee able to meet through their jobs?

2.                  How did Southwest motivate employees?

3.                  What are the principle motivational problems facing southwest as it continues to expand?

What needs were Southwest’s employees able to meet through their jobs?

A need-a physiological or psychological deficiency that a person wants to satisfy is the definition of a need.  Southwest Airlines has done an excellent job of meeting many or the human relational needs of their employees.  Two of Maslow’s theories of human needs are social needs and Esteem needs; both are met at Southwest Airlines.  Maslow’s Third need, social needs, Need for love, affection, sense of belongingness in one’s relationships with other people is met at Southwest by encouraging their employees to get along with one another as much as they get along and want to please the customers.  It is encouraged by the demonstration of the management to be involved and interested in the goings on of the company.    Maslow’s fourth need, the need for esteem in the eyes of others, need for respect, prestige, recognition and self esteem, personal sense of competence, mastery are also met at Southwest Airlines.  Southwest does this by having each employee respect one another and their accomplishments.  They do this by a systematic approach of daily saying something good about what someone else did.  This is good because one feels like what they have done even in an ordinary since has contributed in someway and therefore increases the employees self esteem.  By letting employees earn rank even in the most limit promotional opportunity jobs, Southwest is showing that there is a way to show competency and thereby helping the employee feel more a since of prestige and respect for ones own accomplishments.  Much of helping employees meet their needs is also a motivational factor. 

How did Southwest motivate its employees?


Southwest motivates their employees by making them feel a part of a very profitable and well-managed company.  Southwest offers incentives such as profit sharing and stock.  These types of incentives motivate employees to be more productive by giving the employee a vested interest in the well being of the company, If the company’s profits go down, than so do the employees.  This extrinsic reward is a win-win for the employee and company.  The employee also has much intrinsic reward that is a natural part of their daily routine. It makes the employees at Southwest feel good to compliment another employee, and be part of a family. The family atmosphere and the satisfaction from being able to be a happy and humorous employee are also internally rewarding.  Many things are changing at Southwest airlines, and the things that motivate the employee may change.

What are the principle motivational problems facing Southwest as it continues to expand?

Northwest is growing and expanding. This expansion will take away some of the close family atmosphere that it has enjoyed in the past.  With employees less able to attend local meetings and less able to maintain the principle values of humor, altruism, and luv the company thus far has been successful using, will create challenges for the future of the airline.  Southwest will have to be creative to ensure that their core values are kept and met.