Workforce.com

Smile Your Employees Are Stars

January 8, 2004
You can now tune in to a television program to see how one admired company's employees behave on the job. "Airline," a reality show on the A&E cable network, focuses on the ups and downs of Southwest Airlines, which is famous for customer-friendly employees and sizeable profits. When the production was announced last summer, Southwest's president and COO Colleen Barrett said that the 10-part series was a "a one-of-a-kind opportunity to showcase the customer service passion and vision of our Southwest employees as they serve our valued customers." But passion and vision apparently are in the eye of the beholder. In a review, the New York Times called the program a "veiled infomercial" and said that it reveals that "ghastly condescension defines the airline's proud customer service." "Angry passengers, like those grounded during the summer blackout, are treated as if they were children having tantrums. Even elderly couples are addressed as 'you guys,' " reviewer Virginia Heffernan wrote.

Maybe stardom--at least on reality TV--isn't all it's cracked up to be.