Times are tough during this crisis – especially for airlines and their thousands of employees. In recent months, the majority of airline news has been about financial difficulties and workforce reductions. However, some staff at Canadian carrier WestJet have taken it upon themselves to bring some joy to their fellow colleagues through anonymous gift-giving.
Times are tough for Canada’s second-largest airline. Like many carriers around the world, WestJet has had to make some painful cuts amid the downturn in air travel demand. In fact, the airline cut 3,000 employees this month. National rival Air Canada is also in the process of shrinking its workforce following a mid-May announcement that 20,000 jobs were at risk.
A ray of sunshine
While this doom and gloom hangs over much of the industry, many of WestJet’s employees are taking part in a self-organized initiative to cheer each other up and stay connected.
According to the CBC, WestJet employees have been stealthily distributing gifts to one another in recent times. The gift-givers dress up as ‘ninjas’, sneaking through neighborhoods and dropping packages. These ninjas ring doorbells and then immediately run away.
The initiative is organized via social media, with almost 2,500 WestJet employees part of the online group. Everyone from pilots, flight attendants, and office workers can register to have presents dropped off by their colleagues.
“Since WestJet hasn’t been operating normally, WestJetters like us who stay at home have found a way to stick together, have fun, support and inspire each other,” said a WestJet employee via the CBC.
Simple Flying contacted WestJet for a reaction to this news. The airline declined to comment.
WestJet’s corporate culture
Based in Calgary, Alberta, WestJet has earned a reputation for nurturing a fun and personable type of corporate culture. Incorporated in 1996, the airline’s founders placed special emphasis on participation and commitment, which would in turn, equate to happier employees and, hopefully, more satisfied customers.
In fact, in 2010, WestJet was inducted into Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures Hall of Fame. The honor was the result of being named Canada’s “most admired corporate culture” four times in a row leading up to 2010’s award.
In fact, WestJet co-founder and CEO in 2000, Clive Beddoe said in a statement to the Globe and Mail that his airline’s philosophy is to “trust people to do their job and reward them for doing it.” Indeed, it is well known that the airline’s philosophy and structure were designed to imitate its American counterpart, Southwest Airlines – an airline recently ranked highest for customer satisfaction in North America.
While many of our readers have commented that WestJet has changed a lot since its founding and ‘isn’t what it used to be’, it’s news like this that shows a fun and caring corporate culture still exists for the carrier in some form.
Hopefully, initiatives like this will continue through the course of this pandemic as spirits definitely need lifting in these challenging times.
If you’ve flown on WestJet before, let us know how your experiences have been by leaving a comment!