Southwest Airlines Needs Assessment

Commitment to Employees:

“We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth. Creativity and innovation are encouraged for improving the effectiveness of Southwest Airlines. Above all, Employees will be provided the same concern, respect, and caring attitude within the organization that they are expected to share externally with every Southwest Customer” (About Southwest, 1988).

Mission Statement:

Southwest Airlines is a customer satisfaction driven company that strives to provide the necessary resources and training for its 46,000+ employees to meet their mission statement:

“The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit” (About Southwest, 1988).

Strategic Objectives:

In 2013, “based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers” using over 600 Boeing jetliners to transport over 100 million customers by making over 3,400 domestic flights a day (Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet, February 24, 2015). In fact, a December 2014 report showed that Southwest filled 83.9% of seats bringing over $5 billion in revenue (Southwest Corporate Fact Sheet, February 24, 2015).

Based on Southwest’s management’s philosophy, mission statement, and strategic objectives the focus of the requested needs assessment would be to first establish who Southwest’s stakeholders are:

• Employees
• Customers
• Shareholders
• Communities they serve (Green Team Initiative)
• Suppliers

The next step of the needs assessment would be to determine what top level questions to direct to management, employees (those who design and attend training), and customers during analysis planning phases (organizational, person, and task analysis).

  Upper Level Managers Mid-Level Managers Trainers
Organizational Analysis -Is training important to achieve our business objectives? How does training support our business strategy?

-What are the threats to our talent base?

-Do I want to spend money on training?  How much?

-How will training and development help meet my business goals?

-Are we retaining top talent?

-Do I have the budget to buy training services?

-Will managers support training?

Person Analysis -Do employees in specific functions or business units need training?

What do employees need to do to accomplish our business objectives?

-Who should be trained? Professionals? Core employees?


-How will I identify which employees need training?
Task Analysis -Does the company have people with the knowledge, skills, and abilities or competencies needed to compete in the marketplace? -For what jobs can training make the biggest difference in product quality or customer service? -For what tasks should employees be trained?

-What knowledge, skills, ability, or other characteristics are necessary?

Noe, 2013.

After the questions have been answered, the next approach would be to ask to see documents that support the employee direction with regards to customer service.

• Employee – Customer Relation Guidelines
• Reservation/Sales Techniques
• Employee Training/Performance Review Data (not individual but department aligned
• Employee Self-Management Guidelines
• Professional Development Guidelines

Once all the necessary information is pulled the next step would be to implement needs assessment techniques to ensure training provided is practical to the job description. Southwest aims to provide situational based training, but is it delivered in the most efficient way? Stolovitch & Keeps (2011) state “The infrastructure must permit access to the organization’s intranet from any location”. In addition the training provided must be current with Southwest’s and the FAA ever changing guidelines. “You must purge old content regularly to avoid the risk of learners accessing outdated instruction” (Stolovitch & Keeps, 2011). There are a variety of methods to conduct a needs assessment for Southwest to “identify the tasks and knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics required” (Noe, 2013). The best methods to use for this assessment would be: observation, questionnaires, interviews, online technology and documentation. The advantages for using these methods are the ability to minimize interruption of work, collection of data from a large employee base, interview questions can be tailored based off data provided from questionnaires, reduce the amount of money needed, and documentation can provide guidance to those newly hired. On the downside, interviews can be time consuming and difficult to schedule, documents must be up-to-date, and the questionnaires could return a lack of detail.

Noe, R. A. (2013). Employee training and development (6th ed.). New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

n.a. (1988). About Southwest Airlines. Retrieved from

Kelly, G. (2015). 4Q2014 Corporate Fact Sheet. Retrieved from

Stolovitch, H. D., & Keeps, E. J. (2011). Telling ain’t training. Alexandria, VA: ASTD Press.


One thought on “Southwest Airlines Needs Assessment

  1. Mike

    I like your analysis Southwest airlines. Interviews would seem to be the best source of data for so many of these type situations, unfortunately they are also the most time consuming and costly.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s