Undercover Boss

27 04 2013

Undercover Boss

When I am off school with lots of time to fill for a week or a fortnight I go into a bit of a reality TV induced coma.

There is little to watch on TV during the day of any substance, I only tend to read before going to bed and as the weather has been pretty dodgy I dont particularly want to go out anywhere for fear of being caught in the rain.

Over Easter I discoverd a new guilty pleasure to add to my repertoire Undercover Boss. This is a fantastic idea! The CEO of a major company goes undercover taking on the more menial job roles for a week and trying to get a feel for how employees really feel about the company they work for.

They adopt a false name and identity to fool employees and wear a disguise so they are not recognised. Their employees are told they are on a reality show (usually called Second Chances), to justify the camera crew. Most start this process with a certain amount of confidence, believing that they will rise to the ocassion and meet all the challenges they are faced with and that their employees must tackle every day.

However, even the CEO’s who started at the bottom level of their company and worked their way up over time, are often shocked by how demanding, dangerous and demoralising some of the work actually is and by the end of the process they are forced to reassess their pay structure, benefits program and company ethos. Although there have been one or two shows where a dissatisfied employee has been caught out for their negetive attitude or poor working practice; the focus is mainly positive and the CEO’s are able to develop empathy and make positive changes to improve working conditions of all staff.

Wouldn’t it be great if all employers tried this? There are difficulties faced by employers at all levels in a company – the board room included – but when staff are promoted to the lofty heights of senior management they can quickly forget what it is like to work on the front line and can develop unrealistic expectations.

Another aspect of the series that I like is at the end of each episode when the CEO reveals his/her identity and offers gifts to staff they have worked alongside, to recognise their individual efforts and ease their struggles. Gifts include: paying for courses and training to aid progression, promotion, new resources for their business, holidays, cars and even large cheques or donations to charities. It is wonderful to see the reaction to these gifts and to consider how they can improve the lives of the lucky recipients.

It is all too easy for bosses to get caught up in the boardroom and lose touch with those at the bottom. It is great to see them abandoning their suit and tie and rediscovering the company they run and the people they manage.





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