Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bad HR on TV: Undercover Boss (Mohegan Sun)

Nothing like a little insomnia to make one watch some bad HR practices on TV.  My new favorite show for this is Undercover Boss.  Fortunately, reruns on the OWN network may let me review every single one here.  The premise seems to be the same on each show: Boss encounters employee who does everything that the job asks for, but because of the shitty way they are treated by the company, they either want to leave, or can't make ends meet.  Then, rather than thinking, "Hey!  We have institutionalized problems within our HR policies that may need to be changed for the betterment of all workers!", the boss assumes this employee is an exception, plays Santa Claus, and fixes the problem for just the one employee by throwing cash or a unique opportunity their way.

I'm watching the most recent Undercover Boss, where the Chairman of Mohegan Sun Casino, sorry, Entertainment, goes undercover.  Yes, the slot runner's job sucks (hire more?  Perhaps if the marginal productivity of the next worker is offset by an increase in revenue), and there's a lawsuit waiting to happen forcing the female servers to wear skimpy dresses and not the men, but the biggest problem is with the Valet Shift Lead.  At least she isn't designated a Shift Supervisor when she has no managerial authority, but there are still problems with her job.

Set aside the fact that the CEO of an organization just said that a job should not be performed by anyone over the age of 50, but the Valet Shift Lead mentioned that not only does she work part-time, but her hours are being cut.  She's currently on state welfare to provide health insurance, and she's not sure if she can make ends meet if the situation continues.  Bear in mind that this is the Pocono Casino.  Not on tribal land.  It's a commercial venture doing business in Pennsylvania, subject to Pennsylvania law, and using state subsidized healthcare to get workers for lower wages than they would otherwise be willing to work.  It's likely that in order for these workers to get state healthcare, food stamps, or other forms of welfare, they must prove that they are employed - which creates a need to take these low-paid, low-hour jobs, distorting the labor market.  It's also dickish on the part of the casino to hire someone for 20 hours per week, then only assign them for 10.

So, what's the solution?  Walk away from generous state funds that heavily subsidize the labor costs of the casino?  Unlikely.  Continue to hire part-time, but with a set shift schedule so that an employee can better juggle multiple jobs?  That would be nice, but, dagnabbit, the company loses flexibility!  Flexibility is so much more important than providing employees with the ability to be self-sufficient.  Undercover Boss' solution was to give this employee EVEN MORE TIME OFF to take her GED, and hire a babysitter.  Okay, and $10K for her wedding, $10K for health care (that's, like, a year for a family of three), and a $15K college fund for her daughter.  See - throwing $35K at one employee just totally solved the problem!  And, isn't the Mohegan Sun Casino Entertainment Basketball Hotel Conglomerate just awesome for doing this!

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