After Myrtle was fired because of her age, the employees are unhappy with the regional manager who orchestrated the firing. They ask for Myrtle back, but he’s decided to automate her position (greeter) with a virtual version of Myrtle. Automation can replace routine tasks, such as greeting customers and helping customers locate items in stores.
Outsourcing a Task
There’s a big mess in the backroom, but Mateo is on the phone trying to secure Celine Dion tickets. Garret tries to recommend hiring someone from an app to wait in line for Mateo, but Mateo reverses it and suggests that the two of them hire someone to clean the mess for them. They are outsourcing their jobs to someone who is willing to do the job for less while they focus on the things they want to do.
Tracking Employee Movement
A new company app tracks employees in the store so that they don’t need to clock in. It also rewards employees for doing particular things like going to the stock room or helping customers. It provides a variety of other store-related information, but Jonah is skeptical of how beneficial this app really is for the workers. The store encourages all employees to use the app and it appears that the company will start monitoring their performance. While this may be beneficial from a productivity standpoint, it may also cross the line in terms of privacy. Employees are now monitored when they’re in the breakroom to ensure that they aren’t wasting time.
Cloud 9 is offering curbside pickup so that their lazier customers can have a better shopping experience. Monopolistically competitive firms often compete on non-price aspects, so offering curbside pickup may entice new customers to increase their demand. Since they aren’t hiring more workers, the employees are now required to work more, which they don’t see as fair. This increased demand following curbside pickup should result in an increased demand for labor, but the workers only seem to be working more.
Glenn and Dina hand out step trackers in the break room and announce a corporate competition to see which store has the most steps at the end of the week. The incentive to motivate the employees? Lunch with a regional vice president. The employees doesn’t seem all that motivated until later in the episode when the stores begin to communicate through a leaderboard and messaging system, or so it seems! Amy and Jonah enter fake messages from the Bel-Ridge store in an attempt to motivate their branch.
New Key Fob System
A new key fob system makes cart collection easier. Automation allows for the replacement of routine tasks, like collecting carts or greeting customers. This new technology could make current workers more productive and actually increase sales for the store if the workers take their new time to improve customer satisfaction.
Cloud 9 Budgeting
After requesting a raise from the district manager, Amy now has to sit through a financial planning workshop with her boss and the other employees. The employees quickly point out that the budget Glenn is presenting doesn’t have line items for things like food, childcare, or healthcare. The clip ends with Glen suggesting that the employees seek government assistance to support their low income.
Discrimination a la Becker
While Amy is a bit confused with her new love interest, her coworkers are debating the necessary requirements to be considered racist. In Becker’s discrimination model, firms are assumed to have preferences for one group of workers relative to others. In the taste for discrimination model, firms demand more workers from a preferred group. Dina nicely points out, “Isn’t having a preference the definition of racism?”
Amy is single again and is talking about the new things she wants to do with her free time. She’s bought some plants and wants to start doing puzzle games, but her coworkers don’t seem all that excited for her. Tastes and preferences are an important factor in analyzing markets.
Glenn has found a potential surrogate online, but it seems more like he may be interviewing a kidnapper. While he believes he’s interviewing a potential surrogate, he goes through the process of identifying her reservation wage. A reservation wage is the lowest amount that a worker is willing to accept. He mentions that he and his wife only have $20,000, which the surrogate agrees to. He then lowers it to $15,000 and she still is willing to accept it. When he tries to go down to $10,000 she notes that it’s too low. Because Glenn is willing to pay $20,000 for a surrogate, any price below that will result in consumer surplus for his family.