Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, also known as Popeyes, is the second largest fried chicken chain. This popularity was why the CEO, who normally goes undercover for the CBS show, "Undercover Boss," was unable to fulfill the role of the common, everyday employee. This task went to the CTO (Chief Talent Officer) Lynne Zappone, who delved deeply into the New Orleans chain.
Playing the role as Pam, a so-called contestant of a phony reality show called "Job Swap," Zappone trained with four employees to see how the company operated from the ground up. The damage of Hurricane Katrina played a part in shaping Popeyes' employees; however, Zappone realized that the natural disaster was not the only thing influencing the lives and attitudes of the company's work force.
Like every episode, "Undercover Boss" exposes problems within while shining light on exceptionally positive employees who share the same goal as the fast food chain. Zappone worked four different jobs, and although she realized how difficult and stressful working fast food really is, the bigger lesson came with the apprehension of how Popeyes' management fell short in taking care of its workers.
One example was Gina, a dedicated employee with 27 years. Her attitude and chipper personality allowed Pam to feel a sense of comfort. Even with the devotion to her company, viewers are quick to see that Gina was actually fired because she could not return to work after the hurricane, which caused her to evacuate her house for more than six weeks.
Pam was both astonished and amazed at the company's actions and instantly made it a point to implement better policies. How a company could fire an employee for a natural disaster that affected the entire country is beyond anyone's guess? Only Popeyes and Gina know as "Undercover Boss" is still subject to editing.
Handle With Care:
To handle the Katrina issue, Popeyes should have offered employees, as well as the community, free meals for those affected by the disaster. This PR move would have showed the entire country what a great company Popeyes is.
Another employee that exposed the harsh reality of corporate failure was with Josh, a packer who is currently living under a bridge because his family kicked him out of his house due to his sexual preference. The "aha" moment came when Josh asked Pam if she wanted to go to Taco Bell for lunch. Pam's reaction was one of, "I can't believe you're eating somewhere other than Popeyes."
Anyone that has worked fast food will tell you that if an employee works at a certain fast food restaurant, eating at that establishment every day is ridiculous. However, "Undercover Boss" exposed that Popeyes eliminated the employee discount so Josh had to find a more inexpensive alternative. This action pushed Popeyes down the fast food chain ranking and displayed how affordable Taco Bell's menu is.
At the end of the show, Pam revealed herself as Lynne and apologized for the company's deficiencies. She offered money, supplies, and benefits to better the attitude of Popeyes' workforce.
Although Popeyes will receive a lot of press from "Undercover Boss," the trade off is viewers getting to see how poorly the company is managed. No matter how much money, gifts, and supplies are offered to employees, at the end of the day, the best thing for a company to do is take care of its employees no matter the costs. If this were to happen, appearing on "Undercover Boss" would never be an option to get good press.
"Undercover Boss" did its job; unfortunately, the same thing cannot be said for Popeyes.