Monday, October 18, 2010

Last night on Undercover Boss

I don't watch Undercover Boss on CBS all the time, actually quite rarely, but the TV was still on CBS when the show started and I'm lazy. Also, when I saw the show featured the CEO of Frontier Airlines, I had to watch.

I work for an airline myself so I thought it would be quite interesting to see the CEO do these particular jobs. Also, as with many airlines over the last several years, things haven't gone so well for workers with relation to pay and benefits, etc. Actually, most companies anywhere have had these problems recently, but today we are going to focus on aviation.

The show itself was fine. Bryan, the CEO, had to work a lavatory servicing truck, clean the interior of aircraft and work as a flight attendant. I think he worked as a gate agent too, but I missed a bit of the episode. I was hoping to see the lav dump on him, but it didn't happen. That would have been good TV!

A couple things about the show. I am a bit cynical, I admit, but I'm thinking this show is not so reality as they claim. I'm pretty sure they look for people with the worst background stories to work with the bosses. Obviously it make for better TV and generates sympathy from the CEO. Also, I think these people know what is going on now. I'm talking about the workers that get paired up with the CEO. At least this episode it seemed like it. I mean, if you've worked with someone for one day are you going to give up all of your deep, dark secrets?

I was glad to see that every worker mentioned how they had to take pay cuts to keep the airline going and would like to get that back. More on that later.

At the end of the show Bryan met with each of the workers he was paired up with and gave them some interesting presents, for lack of a better term. One lady got to have an aircraft named after her son who passed away and a vacation. One guy was given $20,000 to help put his many kids through college. And, someone elses was given money to give to a charity of her choice. Not bad, but some of the other episodes I've seen the workers were given new jobs and new salaries. Way to be cheap, Bryan.

At the very end of the show, Bryan came out and showed a group of employees a video of his time working with the common man. Also, he mentioned how he realized that the 10% paycuts they all gave is making it tough on everyone, so they know the right thing to do is give it back. Here is the thing that killed me; they are getting it back over three years! So, essentially they are going to get minor pay increases over the next three years to bring them to the pay that they had 5 years ago which was probably too little to begin with. Now, this stuff obviously kills me as an airline employee who has given up much more than 10% several years ago and is still waiting to get that back. Of course, our CEO is not out here working with us and he has made millions in various stock and other incentives over the last few years so you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little pissed for these people on TV. Sure, they are getting back their old pay eventually, but they will still be behind the curve.

They may have been clapping on TV, but I'm here pissed off for them. I imagine some of them are pissed now after the cameras are off. I hope.

Sorry for the rant, I know I'm not the only one out there who has taken paycuts to help out their company, or other type of employer, only to never see it come back when things are better. Meanwhile the fat cats are lighting their cigars with 100 dollar bills. At least in my head that is what they do.


sam said...

the thing that drives me crazy about that show (and I've only seen a few episodes), is that they seem to reward the individual employees that the "boss" interacts with, but almost never address the systemic things that cause the problems.

There was one (one!) episode where the boss did more than the "individual" solution - when one worker talked about childcare problems, he went back to management and actually discussed the fact that they weren't publicizing the company-wide employee assistance program (which would help ALL employees) enough, so they needed to do a push for the EAP. But that's the only one I've seen.

Mike said...

Sam: You're right. It seems the show is set up to make the CEO look good, at least to some people.

I saw one where the CEO went back to the senior management and told them how she saw a problem while working out in the field. The guy in charge of that particular part of the operation answer was basically, "Yeah, we know it's a problem we don't know how to fix it." Way to go. Maybe you should ask the people that do it everyday. It makes me frustrated.