5 Ways Southwest Airlines Motivated Employees to Adopt New HR Technology

Implementing new HR technology at any organization is a headache. Crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s on a contract is only the beginning—next, you have to influence your team to not only learn how to use the tool, but also buy into why they need to use it.
 

It’s a reality every HR team faces when investing in new technology, but how can you ensure your employees embrace it rather than rebel against it?
 

At IAMPHENOM this year, Greg Muccio, Director of Talent Acquisition at Southwest Airlines, shared how his team overcame tech adoption challenges, along with key takeaways others can learn from.
  

Greg Muccio, Southwest

The Trouble with Making New Technology Stick

Kicking off his presentation, Greg shared an interesting stat: 80% of people who download a new app on their phone stop using it within 3 months—and that’s just an app! As HR leaders, we deal with the same challenges. When we think about purchasing a massive HR tool, why do we think adoption would be any different?
 

Not only do we face the threat of technology fatigue, we also have to overcome the perception that this is “just another flavor of the month” tool we’re forcing upon our employees. When people don’t have a say, Greg lamented they’re quick to question who thought it was a good idea.
 

“If you’re a leader in the TA space, you have a lot of responsibility to make your new technology successful,” Greg shared.

 

The Solution: Getting Buy-In Through Consistent Messaging & Relevant Training

To guarantee the tool wasn’t just another trend and drive permanent product adoption, Southwest and Phenom People partnered together to develop platform training and employee engagement initiatives that encourage usage to this day. Here are the 5 key tactics that drove success:
 

1. Launch a Training Champion Program.

From the start, Greg emphasized the importance of unifying his teams. With over 100 HR individuals in 12 different geographic locations across the US, it was essential that everyone heard a consistent message that this tool was here to stay. Any questions that were asked, everyone would hear the same answers. To make this possible, they created a Training Champion Program that empowered Southwest’s top HR leaders to master the Phenom platform and train their peers on how to maximize it as well—turning them into Champions.
 

By empowering these Champions with the education, tools, and resources needed to conduct personalized Phenom training to individual teams, Greg was able to scale their education. On the day of training, roundtables were set up to provide 1:1 help as trainees learned the platform. Every step of the way, Champions were there to help.
 

Takeaway: Identify advocates and leaders on your team. Invest in their training and enable them to educate their teams, furthering technology adoption in a more organic way.

 

2. Provide Real Examples for Use Cases.

After Southwest’s Training Champions became experts on the Phenom platform, they were asked to provide real, specific examples that would resonate with their peers. This allowed them to personalize the learning experience so employees could understand exactly how they could use the Phenom platform to achieve their recruiting goals.
 

“When we launched the trainings, our HR teams didn’t see hypothetical examples—they could see how to hire for pilots, flight attendants, etc.” Greg shared. It also helped promote buy-in for the tools, since training came from their colleagues who were also invested in the Phenom platform.
 

Takeaway: Think about the top 3–5 jobs you’re frequently hiring for that are crucial to your company. Reference those roles in examples to reinforce the importance of filling them with the help of technology.  

 

3. Gamify the Experience.

The HR folks at Southwest are very competitive. To tap into this, Greg saw an opportunity to gamify platform adoption, offering prizes to winners. Over the course of a few months, the competition awarded individuals on categories like,
 

  • Who had the most successful campaigns?

  • Who was the first to get into their CRM and run an event?

  • Who had the most CRM activities during that period of time?
     

“Once that competition was over, most of my groups began doing ones individually with their team or regions and handing out fun prizes,” Greg added.
 

Regular Team Leaderboard updates were also shared to get the word out. Once a week, Southwest would send an email with data provided by Phenom, including the top 10 users and campaigns of the week.
 

“We still do this today. What I love is that opposed to being punitive about who’s not doing it, it shows who is doing it really well. Competitive juices get flowing again. When traveling to other offices, recruiters say they’re going to be #1,” Greg said.
 

Takeaway: Do your employees love a good challenge? Set up fun competitions and prizes to encourage your team to use your tools. A win-win for everyone!

 

4. Host Regular “Office Hours” Calls.

After initial training was conducted among teams across the country, it was essential to maintain ongoing training and education. Southwest and Phenom hosted regular “Office Hours” calls to answer any questions or talk strategy. Once a week for two months, everyone was encouraged to join the call to learn, share ideas, and ask questions. Sometimes the first half would focus on a specific topic, and the second half of the call would be open to discussion.
 

An extremely successful initiative, this call continues to be hosted on a bi-weekly basis. Everyone knows they can utilize it when needed.
 

Takeaway: Provide a consistent way for your team to continue learning and asking questions, such as a phone call, in-person meeting, or internal knowledge base.

 

5. Rinse and Repeat.

Repetition is key to learning. Greg and his team knew this was no different for driving adoption of the Phenom platform. “If you look at the back of shampoo or conditioner, it gives you directions,” he said. “Basically, if it’s successful, you rinse and repeat.”
 

Keeping the tool top-of-mind and repeating the message is essential. His team constantly shares successes and encourages conversations with individuals and teams, further reinforcing its importance for the long term.
 

And after just a few months, the results spoke for themselves:

  • 150K CRM events

  • 33K searches run

  • 421 campaigns sent, generating over 24,000 leads
     

Takeaway: Training never ends. Continue finding ways to keep talking about the technology you're using to repeat success.

 

Ensuring HR Technology Adoption Soars

By committing to educating their HR teams, Southwest was able to influence its employees to use the platform, which led to even greater success as they searched for new talent.
 

For more on how Southwest has transformed the talent experience with Phenom People, check out our case study!

Part of the Phenom content team, Monica loves connecting people through stories—especially when they involve the talent journey. She is also passionate about music, her furbaby, and the Oxford comma.

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