Team Case# 1- The Smile Factory: Work at Disneyland Disney has developed an intricate model of organizing its theme parks. This model requires thousands of employees to abide by standards set by company executives and theme-park trainers. Trainers are well versed in company policy, and for the most part, are able to effectively communicate Disney’s ideals and practices to its newly hired employees. Disney’s theme park employees adopt Disney’s company culture, language (and lingo), and the fear of losing their position if caught disregarding one of the company’s many conventions.
Disney had developed a unique culture among its park employees, which affects everything from their appearance to their social life. Disney embraces a strong culture for its employees. By doing so, Disney execs capitalize on the two primary advantages of such a culture: they use it as a source of identity and commitment, and as a method of social control. Disney has a rigorous screening process when going through employment applications, and does not allow perspective employees to apply for specific assignments. Instead, Disney places each new hire to designated assignments.
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As a general rule: the more conventionally attractive the employee, the higher the internal status of his position. Once hired, Disney employees follow strict rules and regulations, while being closely monitored by supervisors. These regulations include adopting the lingo of the park (i. e. “guests” instead of “visitors”, or “costumes” instead of “uniforms”). Employees at Disney are instructed, and trained never to break character when “on-stage” (when visible by park guests and outsiders). Disney has thus developed a sense of identity for its employees: they are actors putting on a show.
While staying in character and abiding by the numerous rules may frustrate employees at times, inserting Disney on their resume motivates them to complete their summer tenure. Company culture is essential for the way in which the Disney theme parks are operated. Disney considers it important enough to include an official definition of Company Culture in its employee handbook: “the commitment of top leadership ad management to that (Disney’s) philosophy; the actions taken by individual cast members that reinforce that image (25). Culture within a company is occupational rather than organizational (22), and often deals with perceptions and attitudes of going/being in the workplace. Disney describes its own company culture as social, compassionate, playful, adventurous, free, and creative, justifying this description through its motto: “You are only as happy as your saddest customer. ” Disneyland maintains this culture by manipulating reality into a fictional, welcoming arena through the use of language, in-costume employees and artifacts (attractions/rides).
In essence, the company culture is aligned with the parks premise of offering guests a fun, happy experience in an alternative reality. Disney works hard to maintain the image of this alternative reality, and prides their parks as destination for escaping the monotony and banality of everyday life. The role of company culture at Disney is an important one, as the employees attempt to transcend the culture to their guests.
Despite the odd working conditions and low level of pay, Disney enjoys a strong a commitment from its employees. Supervisors closely monitor employees at all times; they go to extreme lengths to ensure that employees are abiding by the company’s rules. Supervisors have even been known to disguise themselves as guests in order to become completely inconspicuous to working employees. Despite these chaotic conditions and close scrutiny, employees remain loyal to Disney, and many seasonal workers return during the following summers.
Disney does not require much thought processing from its park employees. As long as they look and act the part whenever on-stage, they have successfully done their job. Employees at Disney have also been noticed to develop a sense of pride and gratification from working in such a challenging environment. The root of this commitment by Disney employees is extremely interesting, and even confusing; the employees are not treated well, are not paid well, yet remain loyal to the Disney brand.
This commitment is undoubtedly a result of the extreme measures taken by Disney management when inducting employees to Disney. Employees complete courses at Disney’s University, and undergo extensive training from their supervisors. A strong level of commitment is developed in Disney’s employees, regardless of their position or internal social status. Though underpaid and over-worked, employees at the Disney parks, for the most part, remain loyal to the Disney brand.