Undercover Boss

Undercover Boss

Do you reckon you could disguise yourself so well that people wouldn’t recognise you?

Have you ever watched the TV show Undercover Boss? It’s been a successful worldwide television franchise with local versions in over a dozen countries.

The idea is that the CEO of a company puts on a disguise, and they’re usually pretty dodgy disguises, then spends time undercover finding out what’s going on behind the scenes within their company.

Each episode features a high-ranking executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in his or her own company. The executives alter their appearance and assume an alias and fictional back-story. The fictitious explanation given for the accompanying camera crew is that the executives are being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers in a particular industry, or a competition with another individual with the winner getting a job with the company. They spend approximately one to two weeks undercover (one week being the norm in some editions, such as the U.S. version, and two weeks in some other versions, such as the Australian edition), working in various areas of their company’s operations, with different parts and in most cases a different location each day. They are exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results, and invariably spend time getting to know the people who work in the company, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of their time undercover, the executives return to their true identity and request the employees they worked with individually to travel to a central location—often corporate headquarters. The bosses reveal their identity, and reward hard-working employees through promotion, or financial rewards; while other employees are given training, better working conditions, or, in extreme cases, termination. – Wiki

I’ve wondered why those programs draw us in. I think it’s because we recognise something inside ourselves in the people of the show. We see someone who has battled to keep going, facing all kinds of struggles, who is finally recognised. Finally someone understands their pain. The boss gives them a big hug and says I see what’s happening for you and I want to make things right.

Most of us aren’t just looking for recognition but when someone does see what’s really happening in our lives we feel somehow validated.

The interesting thing is the way that before the workers on Undercover Boss find out they’re working alongside the CEO they have all kinds of ideas about their management not caring, but once they actually meet them, they see something completely different.

I wonder if we truly realise that there is someone who sees us and who knows the struggles we’re facing. I wonder if we understand that this boss is actually the creator of everything yet he still cares deeply for us, so much so that he sacrificed everything to restore relationship with us.

This creator, in the person of Jesus says to us in the Bible, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30

Whatever you’ve thought of this ‘boss’ up to this point, let me encourage you to get to know the one who knows you and wants to provide rest for you; deep rest that refreshes your soul.

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Go Home!!


Working back a little today? Need to do a little unpaid overtime? Think again. It’s officially Go Home on Time Day. Yep … that’s actually a thing.

National Go Home on Time Day is an initiative of The Australia Institute, Australia’s most influential progressive think tank.

The day was conceived in 2009 as a light-hearted way to start a serious conversation about the impact of poor work/life balance on our health, relationships and workplaces.

Now in its seventh year, Go Home on Time Day on Wednesday 18 November is a great way to recognise that life doesn’t need to revolve around work.

If you’re someone who feels you need to go above and beyond … all the time … it’s probably time to reassess.

While many people can afford to be a little more conscientious at work, there’s a growing number of employees who are putting a little too much effort into their work at the expense of family, friends and relaxation.

The Australia Institute doesn’t just thing that the extra time you’re putting in is hurting you, your family and your relationships, they believe it’s hurting Australia. You can read their full report here. So if putting in all those extra hours is something you’ve been meaning to deal with at some time, make that time today and go home on time. Then start to think through how to pull back those hours that really do belong to you. Do it not only for yourself but for those you love. Here are a few hints to get you started.

Measures that could improve work life balance include:
1. Starting a conversation about work life balance with your employer.
2. Deciding what time you are going home before you go to work
3. Scheduling activities after work to ensure you leave on time
4. Improving workplace practices around recognising and responding to work
related stress.
5. Requiring all organisations that employ more than 100 staff to publish the
results of an externally conducted, and nationally consistent, survey of
employee satisfaction.

So … what time are you going home today?

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The Future of Work


I’ve just been reading a great article at McCrindle titled Technology, Innovation & Collaboration: The Future of Work with Claire Madden.

As those of us that have been labelled as Baby Boomers get set to move out of the workforce (to live on our children’s inheritance), Generation Z is getting ready to take our place. Their working lives won’t simply be different from ours, they’ll be different from the generations in between us as well. We’ve already seen big changes in work habits and work lives but the change is about to accelerate.

Generation Z bring new approaches to work, problem solving, innovation and collaboration. They have been born into an era of unprecedented change – this will be reflected in their approach to their careers. Today’s annual turnover rate is 15% per annum which equates to people staying in their roles for approximately 3 years 4 months. Projected over the lifetime of a school leaver today it is estimated they will have 17 jobs across 5 careers in their lifetime.

Most of us in the workforce now have had a number of jobs and perhaps a few careers. The idea of someone joining a company at 15 and staying until retirement is already a part of history but now we’ve got to wonder if those about to start their working lives will ever qualify for long service leave.

There’s a lot more of interest in the McCrindle article and it’s well worth taking the time to read it in full. I guess I still can’t get past the idea of someone having 17 jobs across 5 careers. As the world around us, especially the world of technology, changes ever more rapidly, it seems our lives are changing more than ever. Where is the room for stability when our jobs, careers and our homes are constantly changing? How do we view the certainties of life when life becomes so changeable?

I’ve had a few jobs myself.

I must admit that I’ve had a few jobs over many years. I began full time work as an apprentice chef. After four years I was handed the certificate to say that I was qualified. I then promptly left the industry.

I worked within the Education Department for five years, in radio for around twenty full time years and about 6 part time, I was employed by the Bible Society for five years and almost two years ago began working for Compassion Australia. I’m now 52 so I’m hoping I still have quite a number of working years ahead of me. I don’t know what the future may hold but I’m hoping that a large part of it will be staying right where I am, seeking to see many more children released from poverty in Jesus’ name.

What has your work life looked like so far? Are you still in the same job you started in? Are you even in the same career? I’d be really interested to hear your experience of work, whether you’ve been in the workforce for a short time or you’re nearing the end of your working life. How have you seen society’s attitudes to work change over the time you’ve been employed?

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The Face of Hope


I saw the face of hope this morning.

He was standing on the island of a busy street corner in an industrial area. I was cycling past on my way to work. His work boots and his high visibility safety shirt said that he was ready for work but there wasn’t any work for him today.

The string that ran across the back of his neck suspended an old piece of board with a hand painted message asking for work and listing just a little of his work history. A handful of words told me that he had plenty of skills and a wealth of experience but I guess it’s not easy to find a job when you get past a certain age. The lines on his face and his graying hair suggested he’d reached that age.

I’ve been unemployed a couple of times but I’ve never had to stand on a street corner on a cold August morning advertising the fact. Was this a brave move or an act of desperation? Either way I admired his courage.

As I waited for the traffic to clear so that I could continue my journey something beautiful happened.

A van stopped at the lights and a hand reached out from the passenger’s window. The hand offered a business card. I wasn’t close enough to hear the few seconds of rushed conversation but I’m guessing it was about the possibility of employment. The man darted into the middle of the road, quickly grabbed the card, stuffed it into his shirt pocket, and then retreated to the safety of the island as the van drove off.

His previously emotionless face lit up. He pulled the card out of his pocket and gazed at it as if it was the photo of loved ones, family, those most cherished. His smile seemed to light up the dark winter sky. He then shoved the card back into his pocket and continued trying to grab the attention of passing motorists with his sign.

The card he was handed probably wasn’t offering the certainty of work. If it was he wouldn’t have continued to show his sign to everyone who passed. But I’d suggest there was hope in that business card, a glimmer, the possibility of something brighter ahead, and that’s all it took.

I wonder where you’ve seen hope. Have you discovered a glimmer that has helped you move into tomorrow even though you’re not sure what it holds? What has helped you find hope?

If he’s there again tomorrow I’m going to stop and find out a little bit more about his story.

I saw the face of hope this morning and it brightened a busy street corner.

Hope itself is like a star – not to be seen in the sunshine of prosperity, and only to be discovered in the night of adversity. – Charles H. Spurgeon

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Sabotaging Your Job Prospects

If your job interview is going well, keep it to yourself. It’s probably best not to phone your parents half way through the interview to tell them how it’s going. Strange as it may seem, that’s juyst one of the crazy things that have happened in recent interviews.

British Recruitment Specialist company, Robert Half, recently released some fascinating research regarding job seekers. They named the top seven blunders from job interviews they’d researched. I wonder if you can top any of these.

1. One person brought his mother to the job interview and let her do all the talking.

2. A job applicant went to an interview with a cockatoo on his shoulder.

3. The candidate sent his sister to interview in his place.

4. After answering the first few questions, the candidate picked up his mobile and called his parents to let them know the interview was going well.

5. One candidate sang all of her responses to interview questions.

6. When asked by the hiring manager if he had any questions, the candidate replied by telling a knock-knock joke.

7. One candidate handcuffed himself to the desk during the interview.

It’s always helpful to be honest during your interview but can you be a little too honest? A few responses in interviews would suggest that sometimes it’s best to remain silent.

When asked by the hiring manager why she was leaving her current job, the applicant said, ‘My manager is a jerk. All managers are jerks.’

In response to the hiring manager’s offer to answer questions about the position, the job seeker replied, ‘What happens if I wake up in the morning and don’t feel like going to work?’

When asked what motivated him, the job seeker replied, ‘I’ve got a big house and a big car and a big credit card balance. Pay me, and I’ll be happy.’

The applicant told me he really was not interested in the position, but he liked that we allowed for a lot of time off.

Have you ever had a weird job interview? Has it ever gone horribly wrong for you or have you been interviewed by someone that has just left you scratching your head? have you ever heard of strange things happening in interviews?

On the other hand, what are your top tips for people going for a job interview? Have you found anything really helpful when searching for a job? I’d love you to share your comments.

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