I recently started watching the CBS reality series Undercover Boss. If you haven’t seen this show, I would highly recommend it. The premise is that CEO’s of major corporations go “undercover”, acting as participants being filmed for training and informational videos. The CEO’s participate in the operations of the company, doing everything from shipping and receiving, to acting as call center agents or digging ditches. The executives undergo this week of “undercover” work so they can learn more about how to improve their companies and the work environment.
The CEO’s learn about the company from various employees’ perspectives. Obviously, there is a Hollywood component as the chosen employees that coach or train the “new trainee” all have personal stories that add a touching emotional component to the program. At the end of the episode, the CEO does something to help those individuals such as paying off a loan, finding them childcare or making donations on their behalf. However, the show does emphasize how little corporate executives really know about the front line work and the struggles of everyday employees within their own companies.
For example, one CEO had a father who died of alcoholism and when he was assigned to work with an employee who shared that he was a recovering alcoholic, the CEO broke down in tears- grateful that the employee had chosen a better path than his father. He then implimented a program whereby the employee could speak to other facilities around the country about recovering from addiction. When company owners really understand what goes on in their businesses behind the scenes and on the front line, they can do great things to improve morale, productivity, loyalty and peoples’ lives.
So, we can learn a lot from Hollywood reality shows. As business owner, we should ask ourselves the following:
If our best assets are our employees, are they happy? Are they getting their needs met? What more can we do to assist them with their personal issues, career advancement and job satisfaction?
Do we have a good employee assistance program that can provide feedback and assistance to both the employer and the employee?
Do we have a drug testing program that offers employees a last chance to get help before termination?
Do we give employees access to affordable health care, child care and drug and alcohol treatment?
Are the operations of this company working? Are they effective, efficient and cost effective? If not, why and what can we do?