Southwest Airlines offers employees referral bonuses worth $300 as the company scrambles to fill gaps in its workforce

Southwest Airlines
Southwest Airlines is offering staff a referral bonus, the airline said in a memo seen by CNBC. Patrick T. Fallon /AFP/Getty Images
  • Southwest Airlines is giving staff members bonuses if they refer someone to work at the carrier, CNBC reported.
  • Southwest said staff can use the bonus for gift cards or concert tickets, per CNBC.
  • The bonus comes as airlines struggle to fill the gaps in their workforce as travel demand picks up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Southwest Airlines is rewarding its staff with bonuses worth $300 if they refer someone for a job at the carrier, CNBC first reported on Wednesday.

The bonus incentive program was launched this week and will run through until November 20, Southwest said in a memo, seen by CNBC.

Insider has reached out to Southwest Airlines for comment on the referral bonuses.

Employees can earn Southwest Airlines Gratitude points, also known as SWAG points, for each referral of an applicant, the carrier said in the memo, according to CNBC.

The memo said that a total of 20,000 SWAG points are up for grabs if the referred applicant is offered a job at Southwest and stays at the airline for six months, per CNBC.

The taxable value of each SWAG points is 1.5 cents, according to a company document seen by CNBC. This means 20,000 SWAG points is equivalent to $300, CNBC reported.

Staff can redeem the SWAG points for flyer miles, gift cards, and concert tickets, the memo said, cited by news outlet. The points can’t be transferred into cash, the memo added.

“Southwest is experiencing a sharp decline in qualified applicants due to low labor force participation and competition for available talent,” Julie Weber, Southwest vice president and chief people officer, wrote in a memo to staff, seen by CNBC.

A Southwest spokesperson told FOX News in a statement that the airline is “engaging our workforce by formalizing this referral process through our internal recognition program that allows employees who have opted-in to use earned points for additional travel privileges, gift cards, and merchandise.”

Southwest’s bonus incentive comes at a time when airlines are struggling to fill the gaps in their workforce.

Many carriers slashed thousands of jobs during the pandemic while travel was down. Now that travel is on the up again, it’s clear that airlines are understaffed due to flight cancellations and disruption at airports, Insider’s Tom Pallini previously reported.