How Spirit Airlines Uses Hybrid Work to Drive Transformation

The Next Practices Weekly call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders each Thursday at 11am ET / 8am PT. On this week's call, i4cp Membership Director Lina Perez and i4cp Senior Research Analyst Tom Stone, facilitated a conversation with special guest Linde Grindle, SVP and Chief Human Resource Officer at Spirit Airlines. Here are some highlights from the call:

  • Grindle has had a long career in HR, including various leadership roles at Cigna, UnitedHealth Group, and Optum before she joined Spirit Airlines as CHRO in January of 2022.
  • Spirit Airlines has a unique and strong culture, so there is a focus on maintaining that even while the organization is facing a pending merger with JetBlue.
  • The culture at Spirit favors agility and speed in execution from idea to delivery.
  • Regarding flexible work, return to office plans, etc., like many organizations Spirit's approach has evolved over time.
  • Spirit Airlines approach to flexible / hybrid work is called À La Smarte Working, a play on their a la carte pricing model that is part of their external brand. For customers, Spirit Airlines is "committed to giving our Guests more choices when it comes to how they fly and how they save." Similarly, Spirit is "committed to giving our Team Members options when it comes to how we work and making the most of High Impact Moments. We align on core collaboration days and offer flexibility and working from where you need based on the day’s moments."
  • At Spirit, High Impact Moments are "Professional or personal experiences that impact how Team Members experience the organization and how the organization achieves success. They ultimately influence productivity, culture, and wellbeing."
    • In Office/Professional High Impact Moments examples: new hire onboarding, key-decision making meetings, team collaboration meetings, onsite team meetings or team building events
    • Individual/personal High Impact Moments examples: picking up your child from school a few times each week, studying, or keeping up an exercise routine
  • For the most part, Tuesday and Wednesday are pretty full at the Spirit corporate offices, in order to promote in-person connection, collaboration, etc.
  • Besides the principles involved in the above approach, for now Spirit also faces a lack of office space. They are building a new HQ that will not only be larger but also emphasize collaborative spaces more than just traditional offices and conference rooms
  • Grindle noted the important management mindset shift that needs to occur in organizations, e.g., away from project assignment based on who you see the most in the office vs. based on the skills and capabilities of individuals.
  • Pilots are in short supply. As Spirit brings in new cohorts for training, Grindle or their CEO or COO personally contact them to welcome them to Spirit, make sure they are engaged, etc. Since starting this practice, they have seen an increase in pilot retention during training and beyond.
  • Coming out of the pandemic, an increased focus on holistic well-being is now woven into all talent practices at Spirit. DEIB is also woven into all people practices and programs.

Links to resources shared on the call: