Case Studies

Case Studies: How Treating Employees With Dignity Leads To Success

Over the last few months, our team has worked on applying the concept of dignity to corporate culture to drive success. We were recently introduced to the work of Dr. Donna Hicks (check out our interview with her here), who’s shown how “dignity violations” are a major root cause of business failures. Here are three examples of leaders in this field.


The Dallas-based airline has a number of programs designed to keep their employees happy. A dedicated Culture Services Department is charged with making sure each employee feels valued by distributing spirit awards and planning events.[1] In 2018, Southwest’s profit-sharing policy led to $543 million in employee payouts (roughly 11% of each employee’s salary split between their retirement accounts and a cash payment).[2] This emphasis on culture has translated into 45 straight profitable years and top marks in customer satisfaction.[3]


Starbucks calls its employees partners, and for good reason. The coffee giant counts treating its employees with dignity and “creating a culture of warmth and belonging” among its chief values.[4] They’ve followed this up in practice with a program designed to make accommodations for partners with disabilities and a College Achievement Plan that sends eligible employees to Arizona State University at no cost to them.[5] These benefits translate into a 4.1-star (out of 5) overall rating on Indeed and a spot at 132 on the Fortune 500 List.[6]


The world-wide hotel brand was a top-10 place to work on Fortune’s 2018 list with 91% of employees considering it a great place to work.[7] Their mission statement, “we care for people so they can be their best,” extends past hotel guests and includes Hyatt employees.[8] Bonuses, a “bridge of service” benefit (returning employees are credited for previous years of work for Hyatt) and internal promotions are all a part of this ethos.[9] In addition to accolades for workplace culture, Hyatt has also earned a gross profit ever quarter for the past ten years.[10]

Firms that go out of their way to treat their employees with dignity—both by fostering a positive culture and providing generous benefits—reap major dividends. Meeting the emotional and material needs of employees creates a more dedicated workforce, a higher-quality customer experience, and, as a result, a more successful company.