Employee empowerment is a core value of Southwest Airlines. The company believes in a responsible workforce and limits the emphasis on formal organizational structure, entrusting decision-making powers to the individual worker or management committees.The result is positive workplace behavior with customers the being the direct beneficiary.
Once, when a passenger, also a famous author in a hurry forgot to carry his identity card with him, it created a problem at the airport check in counter, where verifying the passengers ID is now mandatory. Any other airline would first insist on a formal ID card, and then make the customer wait as the check in clerk asked his supervisor for authorization, who in turn forwarded the request to the manager, and so forth, until the passenger missed the flight. But not at Southwest. The empowered check in clerk could verify the identity of the passenger, an author from the cover of his published book, and let him through.
Such initiatives have allowed Southwest to become the carrier with the fewest customer complaints, a picture of operational efficiency with the fastest turnaround time, never having a history of any major accident, and weather the recession with considerable ease when others were struggling to stay afloat. In 1991, it was the only airline to post profits. The airlines fly 2,318 passengers per employee, the highest in the industry where the average is 848 passenger per employee for the industry.