I recently celebrated my 20th anniversary with SWA. (Back then they actually hired 12-year olds!) Thinking back to my first day on the job, I remember how excited I was when I walked through the front door of the General Offices. I was about to embark on a new career with a Company with a strong reputation for encouraging its Employees to have FUN on the job, and I'm all about FUN! What I remember most, though is how well I was treated by my peers and how they all wanted to make sure I was comfortable in my new work environment and had the tools and recources to do my job to the best of my ability. I was taken on a tour of the building and was introduced to everyone--even the Officers of the Company. I was also given a list of upcoming events that would initiate me into the unique SPIRIT and Culture of SWA. (Little did I know 20 years ago that I would one day be in charge of organizing and executing most of those events!!) That first day really made an impression on me, and as I drove home through the dense Dallas traffic that evening, I knew I had found a home.
In 2005, we hired 2,766 Employees, bringing our total number of Employees to almost 32,000 in 32 states! I wonder how many of those Employees felt that same excitement that I did on my first day? I wonder how many of them actually attended Company events in their first year of employment? I wonder how many Employees actually took a New Hire by the hand and walked them through their work location and introduced them to their Coworkers? Of course we were a much smaller Company back in 1986--we only had 5,819 Employees by year's end, but the attention paid to me by my new Coworkers was what got me engaged and helped me realize that I actually had a career--not just a job. I wanted to stay; I wanted to attend every Company event; and I looked forward to coming to work each day!
Realizing how those small gestures of kindness can make or break a New Hire's impression of our Company, the Onboarding Department was formed this year. This group's goal is to instantly engage new Employees and to let them know how important they are to our Company. This group recently held "LUV at First Bite" lunches where New Hires could sit down and have lunch with our Officer group. They arrange these lunches around a Company event in hopes that the New Hires will stick around for the event. These were very successful during our Messages to the Field held in February. They also give each New Hire a lanyard to hold their Company i.d. that reads, "The Flight of your Life." To offset the cost of these lanyards, Employees may "sponsor" a New Hire by purchasing a lanyard and writing a message to him or her on a special card. When an Employee is hired, he or she receives the lanyard and the message welcoming him or her to the Company.
At SWA, we feel the investment is certainly worth it! When you think about the costs that go into hiring and training a new Employee, this new endeavor is a win-win for everyone! There are many more initiatives underway to ensure the newest members of our Family feel welcome and appreciated--especially on that very first day!