Greeting, my fellow WOE Friends,
I believe you'll enjoy today's interview with Rachael. One of the main reasons the WOE is so successful is the people who work there. You cannot apply to work at the WOE. You must be "found" by an Employee Scout. Entertainment Scouts found many entertainers.
Why? Rachael will tell the answer in the below interview I had with her on our family's working vacation. This interview will give you another look into the World of Entopia.
Last week's blog interview with Roger (2/20) gave you an understanding of their Systems Engineering Department and the quality and maintenance of their rides and attractions. Next week, I will provide you with a look into how the entertainers are treated and how they live on the property when I interview Mark.
These interviews are from the World of Entopia - The Story. Rachael's Interview is in Chapter 13 and next weeks will be Mark in Chapter 14.
I hope you enjoy!
After such a full and enjoyable day on Friday, Sally and Jennifer slept in on Saturday, while I headed out for an interview with Rachel, the Human Resources Director.
I arrived at the World Stage around 10:30 a.m. and started watching the upbeat entertainment of the World Stage. Close to 11:00 a.m., I walked to the area she had set-up for our meeting. Right on time, a professionally dressed woman asked me if I was Peter.
I answered, “Yes, I am. Are you Rachel?”
“Yes, hi Peter. It’s nice to meet you. Let’s walk around and talk if you’d like?”
As we started walking around, she asked me how my vacation was going and if I had a chance to interview any of the employees. I told her I had and was amazed by what I have had heard. I also told her I interviewed Steven C.
“What did you think of Steven C.?” She asked.
“Very humble and inspirational,” I said. “I can see why everyone respects him so much.”
“Steven C. is crucial to everything we do here. He provides so much insight into shows, attractions, the Complex, the hotels, just everything. But the most important thing he does, in my opinion, is bring compassion for others to our whole
organization, to the whole property. The caring for one another, the ability to see something in everyone and the foresight to see the potential of so many. A CEO mainly cares about the operation and the profit a company makes. Our President is hardly heard from because we don't have shareholders and we are a private company. He simply makes sure we have the money to operate and watches out for us if we may fall financially short somewhere. He represents us in the business world. Steven C. represents all the good we do within,” Rachel explained.
“Rachel, how did employees start living here and what is the deciding factor of who lives here and who doesn't?”
“Well, Peter, the living community was here from the beginning. We started with 400 apartments for the employees and 200 for the entertainers. The employees’ apartments were built two years before the Complex was even open. They housed architects, engineers, cooks, skilled laborers, and others who helped plan and build the Complex. Once the Complex was three-fourths done, the entertainers’ apartments were built. On opening day, there were already entertainers living on the property. The employees’ apartments expanded to 800, then 1,200 by the second year.”
“Now we have over 2,500 apartments, condos, and houses for over 5,000 employees and 1,200 apartments for the entertainers. We have our own school which starts at Pre-K and goes through college, including earning a Ph.D. or M.D. We have our own medical facility. We even have a mini-mall for the employees with a movie theater, restaurants, assorted stores and a grocery store.”
“Do the employees pay rent? How do they get chosen?” I asked.
“Many of our short-term apartments are for employees or entertainers in their first 90 days or those entertainers visiting for a brief time. For those staying longer, a larger apartment is provided for up to two years. After that, at least for the employees, a small house with a yard and front porch are provided, mostly for families. You did mention that you were meeting Mark tomorrow, therefore, I’ll let him tell you about the Entertainers’ Village. The employees are given a place to stay based on need. Many of the original employees hired were local and had their own place to live already. But since then, many have been ‘found’ by our Employee Scouts around the world and offered a place to live on the property. The 90 days is a sort of probationary period. Maybe they may not like it here, or maybe they want to be here until they get on their feet, then they move on.”
“How often does that happen, where they move out within 90 days?” I questioned.
“Believe it or not, very rerely,” Rachel said. “There is no rent to pay, and the food and utilities are included. We have doctors, teachers, engineers, mechanics, housekeepers, waitresses, servers; you name it, all living on the property. Each employee gets an ‘allowance’ to spend on clothes, games, eating out, and to have ‘fun money.’ The rest of their paycheck goes to their future housing, savings account, and retirement. In many cases, a husband and wife both work; so, they each get an allowance, savings account and can combine for a lovely retirement home, all provided.
“How much is this allowance?”
“It averages around $150 each a week. All the other expenses are paid for; medical, education, vacations, transportation, housing, and food. They have no bills and no stress. Depending on their age, if they work for 20 to 30 years, they can get from $150,000 to $200,000 to buy a home anywhere they want. Two people will get double that. A married couple can retire with $400,000; plus, everyone receives a retirement check on top of that. If they leave after ten years, they still get a percentage of cash and retirement to take with them. For those who live off property, they can also get a special package made for them, which can help with their housing and retirement. All the houses on property come with free maintenance. They will replace a roof, air conditioner, even the carpet every so many years, all at no charge.
“No matter where you live, no one pays a dollar for health insurance or their education. And the health insurance covers everything, including glasses, hearing aids, surgeries, dental, and all necessary treatments. WOE covers all your expenses while you’re working here, so you can concentrate on your job, family, and most importantly, yourself. That’s why every employee only works 30 hours at the Complex and 10 hours in the classroom and/or in training. They also get a one-week vacation every three months and bonus days off for their birthday, anniversary and other special days.”
“What about cosmetic surgery?”
“Only if it’s necessary. We won't pay for breast augmentations or tummy tucks. But we will cover dental implants and items that are necessary and reasonable.”
“I’ve heard no one has a car in their driveway in the Residence Village. Why is that?” I asked.
“Right, just like at the Hotel Visitor Parking Garage, the Residents and employees park in the Employee and Resident Parking Garage and have an Employee Resident Hub (ERH) they must pass through, just like the hotel guests and daily visitors. Employees take a shuttle to the Complex, and the Residents use golf carts to travel to and from the ERH and around the Residential Community. If they want to go off the property, they can use their own car or borrow a car and use it to travel on a road trip or to visit surrounding places in the community. They can borrow a boat, jet ski or even a camper to go camping. They don’t have to pay for gas, insurance, and repairs. There are no vehicles, boats, campers, or jet skis stored in any driveway or someone’s front lawn. Golf carts are the only vehicle used on the property, and they are stored in their garages or covered parking if they’re living in an apartment.
“What is the pay like? I hear it’s pretty good.”
“We only have three levels of pay and compensation: Semi-skilled, skilled and professional. The semi-skilled covers anyone with at least a high school diploma. The skilled covers anyone with a college degree up to a bachelors, and the professional includes anyone with a master’s degree or higher. There is no one making less than $20 an hour and no one, even the CEO, is making more than $100,000 a year. All the doctors are happy and content, especially as they are not worried about heavy patient loads, malpractice insurance, lawsuits and insurance companies telling them how to treat patients. They do what they love; helping heal others. Even the semi-skilled workers, when you add in all their benefits, can be making excellent money; well over $60,000 a year.” But the salary is only paid in full if you do not want help with housing and expenses. If you live on property, then you get the weekly allowance and money to buy a future home. The WOE basically helps you save now and for the future. If you live off property and pay everything yourself, then you’ll get the salary. You’ll still be entitled to free healthcare, education, vacation time and retirement, but no money to buy a future home and you have to pay all your housing expenses yourself."
“What about mental health treatment?” I asked.
“We take mental health very seriously here. Many employee’s and some entertainers have come from harsh environments or situations and need our ongoing support to acclimate them to the WOE and get them back on their feet mentally. We have psychiatrists, psychologists and counselors on the property and they are available 24-hours a day. All employees are mandated to meet with the ‘mental health team’ several times a year, usually during their physicals, which they get every six months. The meeting may be for only 15 – 30 minutes, but they are looking for employees or entertainers who are very stressed or depressed but don’t want to admit it. If they find you could use someone to talk with, they can assign you a therapist and set-up appointment times for you to meet.”
"We also have a tip line for employees to use if they see someone else in danger or that may need help. The caller can remain anonymous. The same goes for drug use.”
Rachel then made two statements that really stood out to me: “Mental illness is just like any other illness, it can be treated, and, Mental Illness is only scary if you don’t understand it.”
“Steven C. briefly talked about the Employee Scouts. Can you tell me more?” I asked.
“I’d be happy to. The WOE believes that to find and keep great employees, we must find and meet their needs and provide them with a great quality of life. If you simply choose from applicants that have applied, you are only getting those with a desire to work here. But what is their desire? Is it just to have a place to live? Get free medical care? Make good on getting a future home or do they really want to work at the WOE and help others? Of course, they’ll tell you the latter, but most are really interested in the benefits. We find people who are the best at what they do and feel they would fit in with our current employees. We also look for those who can really use the opportunity to help themselves. People tend to be more grateful when given something they really need, rather than something they really want.”
“That makes sense,” I said. “So, the Employee Scouts look for these people?”
“Yes, they travel around the world looking for those that could use a place to call home. Those who may be chosen for their ability may not necessarily need or want to stay on property. A doctor or engineer, for example, may want to stay in their own home or condo off the property. Some may need a place until they can get on their feet. Then they go out and get their own place. But most employees prefer to live on the property, including most of the doctors, engineers, and executives. One of the main reason is; safety.”
“As you know, there are no weapons of any kind on property. If one ever did get past our top-notch security and was discovered; the person or family could be immediately expelled from the community and their employment terminated. There is also little tolerance for most crime. Residents feel safe walking the neighborhood at 10 p.m. or jogging at 6 a.m. To date, we haven’t had any assaults or burglaries on the property.”
“Our semi-skilled workers are all very well taken care of and have the opportunity to move up to skilled and professional with the free college offered. But even the professionals don't have mansions or expensive furniture or riches. Everyone, no matter who you are, lives modestly and enjoys the quality of life provided. These professionals don't have their own pools, so they swim with everyone else in the community pools, where they can have cook-outs and play games like horseshoes and volleyball. If an average-sized home is 1,400 square feet, the professionals may be only 1,800 to 2,000. No expensive cars in the driveway, because there are no cars in the neighborhood. They are all parked (if they even have them) in the Employee and Resident Parking Garage. They do get a little more allowance and a little more in retirement, and the house they could earn will be a little bigger. But it’s not much of a difference.”
“Then what is the incentive for going to college and studying so much harder, if you’re not going to make much more money?” I asked Rachel.
“Because they ‘want’ to do a particular job. They want to be an engineer or doctor or a designer or electrician. Maybe they are tired of cleaning rooms or serving tables,” Replied Rachel.
Then I asked, “What if they graduate as a doctor and you have no vacancies?”
“Most graduates intern for six years. If after that, there are no openings, they can ‘wait’ for one to open and ‘assist’ in some way until one becomes available. If nothing opens within three years, then they can choose to work outside the Complex until one does open.”
“Aren't you afraid employees will take advantage of that?”
“Most employees want to live and/or work here because they enjoy it. The others appreciate the opportunity to help us while being helped themselves. We see it as a symbiotic relationship. They would have probably worked for us for at least ten years to reach that goal of graduating because they are attending school part-time. Then another three waiting. If all that does occur, then we will be grateful for their service and they would be thankful for ours. That open slot would then provide an opportunity for someone else in need of a good job, and possibly a place to live.”
“What about the cost of education?” I replied.
“Our professors all work for us, and most of them live on the property. We are not spending unnecessary money like other colleges or universities. No extra money for sports or athletes, large salaries for administration and no wasted money on employees that work at half speed.”
“What about unions? Do you have any?”
“No, there’s no need. Our employees have everything they could ever want. Most unions promote greed and laziness. They always want more and want to be protected for doing less. ‘Unions and pay scales foster mediocrity.’ We genuinely believe that if an employee feels they need more than everything they are getting, we would have to really question their intentions. Do they want to help the guests at the WOE or just themselves?”
“We have an employee appeals process that hears any complaints in front of a committee made up of other employees. We’ve only had the committee meet a few times, and each time they sided with the employee’s supervisor because they felt the decision to reprimand was fair.”
“Have I answered most of your questions, Peter?” Rachel asked.
Yes, you have. Thank you for all the information, Rachael. Sorry I’ve had to stop so often to take notes.”
“That’s quite okay. I understand,” Rachel replied. “I’m glad we got to walk around. I sit so often at home that I enjoy walking around at work, getting some exercise. I love walking with the employees as well. If they have a need to talk, I find sharing some cotton candy or going on a ride takes the tension off, and they feel more relaxed.”
“Do you mind if I ask how you got here?”
“Sure Peter. I was working as an HR Director in a large Boston company. I somehow met Steven C. at an employment convention I was working; where prospective employees are looking to make contacts with companies looking to hire. He convinced my family and me to have lunch with him and his family. And then he convinced my family and me to move here. I’ve been here since the very beginning. My husband works for Systems Engineering, and my kids go to school. They are both taking college courses full time here.
“How did he talk you and your husband into working here?” I asked.
“He convinced us that what we would be doing would be so innovative, unique and necessary, all to the benefit of mankind. Well, that was far more productive then what we were doing at the time. Turns out, he was right. We are truly enjoying our work and making a difference to so many. I wouldn't trade any of this for the world.”
Thanks for reading! Until next time,