Employee engagement at Southwest Airlines

27 March 2012 by

Don’t miss IBF Live on April 3rd! Southwest Airlines is dedicated to the highest quality of customer service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and company spirit. How does this culture of service play out on its intranet? And how does their overall communications strategy support the culture?

Our featured studio guest is Katie Coldwell, Director, Communications, at Southwest Airlines. As you’d expect, most employees there don’t work at desks… they’re up in the sky. So Katie has built up an impressive mix of tools to engage employees while reflecting and reinforcing company values.

Katie will show us the various platforms they use to reach out to employees and customers, and how they interact and support each other. She’ll also tell us how she discusses social media with company leadership; and how she’s able to manage employees’ behavior online without stifling the spirit of social media.

Southwest Airlines also has a fleet of enthusiastic employee bloggers on their external blog, Nuts about Southwest. How did the communications team convince executives to allow their employees to speak on behalf of the company? And how about their Facebook page? How did they get 2.1 million fans?

What: IBF Live

When: 3 April at 16.00-17.00 BST / 11.00-12.00 US EST /
08.00 – 09.00 US PST / 17.00-18.00 CEST

We’re also thrilled to welcome Gordon Ross, Owner, Vice President, OpenRoad / ThoughtFarmer social intranet. He’ll tell us about a recent white paper: “Social Intranets and Employee Engagement: An HR Solution for Meaningful Morale Building,” and tell us how to implement a social intranet aimed at improving employee engagement.

See you there!

If you are already an DWG member or an IBF Live subscriber, you can get the login details on the extranet (no need to register in advance). If you miss IBF Live or want to watch it again, you can view this or prior episodes via on-demand playback. Guests can sign up for a one-time free guest pass, but hurry, there’s limited seating. Don’t miss out!

Meet the studio guests

Communication Director Katie Coldwell has LUVed her job at Southwest Airlines for more than eleven years. The Communication Team oversees all internal, external, and online communications for Employees and Customers. This team communicates Southwest’s message to 35,000 Employees in 73 cities across 38 states on many channels to ensure that Southwest’s Employees know their value and their impact on Customers and so that Customers can become brand evangelists. Katie first served Southwest Airlines in the Revenue Management and Pricing Department, then transferred to Communications four years later.


As Vice President and a Partner at OpenRoad, Gordon Ross has been instrumental in the company’s success during the past 16 years. Gordon’s interdisciplinary approach has made him a natural interface for web projects, blending business insight, user experience design, and technical understanding.

Gordon’s recent projects include BC Hydro’s customer portal project, web strategy for the City of Vancouver, the redesign of ICBC.com, redesign of Mountain Equipment Coop’s e-commerce website, and web strategy and development work for the World Bank, Vancouver Public Library, CGA-Canada, BC Ministry of Transportation, the Legal Services Society, the Ministry of Attorney General, the District of Columbia Courts, and Vancouver’s St Paul’s Hospital. He also provides strategic input and engagement partner services for OpenRoad’s social intranet product, ThoughtFarmer.

Gordon has a degree in Communications from Simon Fraser University (SFU) and a minor in Publishing. He has spoken at conferences like the Social Intranet Summit, LegalIT, Enterprise 2.0, Impact99, and has lectured locally on project management, intranets, user experience design, and strategy at SFU, UBC, and BCIT and is actively involved with the Vancouver User Experience Group. He is a certified Cognitive Edge practitioner and loves reading a good book. Connect with Gordon on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Categorised in: Collaboration, DWG24

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