on bootstraps and such

On Undercover Boss Sunday, the CEO of Waste Management spent a week incognito picking up trash, sorting recycling and scrubbing port-a-johns to find out what it was like to work there and how his policies played out in reality.

The premise is interesting, and I thought it was cool that the CEO would humble himself in that way.   If only all managers were required to work a week as an underling in their own company!  The show reminded me a bit of a shinier, happier Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America--such a good read, as is The Working Poor: Invisible in America.

Cameras revealed employees' various health problems and financial difficulties along with admirably strong work ethics.  In the end, the CEO, who seemed visibly touched by his experience, promoted some of the workers and vowed to enact policy changes.  Viewers are made to feel good when those four or five employees are recognized and rewarded, but I wondered about the thousands of other WM employees.
How much does a person earn sorting recycling? 
What is the physical toll of standing on your feet for eight hours a day? 
Do they have health insurance?  Does it cover chiropractic? 
Do the people who work at the landfills have greater incidences of asthma? 
What about cancer?  One of the featured landfill employees said she'd battled five types of cancer by the age of 25, and I couldn't help but suspect that it was an occupational hazard.
Next week the CEO of Hooters gets a front row seat to the sexual harassment that is tolerated internally in his company.

So, did you see this show?  What did you think?

image:  flickr


TAMI said...

I loved this show! It's hard to tell how much of it is genuine (that's what I prefer to think) and how much has been construed for the cameras (that's what my husband is constantly thinking), but I have to believe that SOME of it is true! Like you, I kept thinking about all the OTHER employees ... but starting somewhere is good, and hopefully these insights & changes will impact the WHOLE company!

Jenney said...

I loved it too! It really IS hard to tell what has been put on for cameras, but I think the show has a lot of heart. And I think the CEO of Hooters should just shut down the whole operation...just sayin.

Ashley said...

Yes, I was waiting all week to see it (and kept thinking how they could pair it with that one episode of Living With Ed where Ed takes Rachelle to the recycling plant).

In terms of the boss thing... I'm fortunate that I have a boss who has been on the other side of the admin desk, has an open door policy regarding ideas for improvement, and when changes are made, makes sure that all areas of the staff are at heard.

The show itself ended with me wishing that we had Waste Management here. The company itself seems a little more transparent than the company that services our town.

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