Tag Archives: human resource management

Smoking Room (2002)

 Smoking Room is a spanish-language, english-subtitled movie about a middle-level executive Ramirez (Eduard Fernandez) who is outraged when the U.S.-based top management of his company decides to ban smoking in the whole office building. Ramirez believes that this mandate is being imposed on his office without regard to the acceptability and pervasiveness of smoking in the Spanish culture. He sets out on a signature campaign against the smoking-ban rule. At first he finds a few colleagues who support his petition, but he soon becomes embroiled in office politics where every body has their own agenda and loyalties are changed with convenience.

Anyone who spends some time thinking about smoking will realize that it has gone from being completely accepted in many countries (including in the United States) to becoming a socially unacceptable practice. most public places now ban smoking, movies and TV shows are encouraged (or required) to not associate glamor with smoking, and smokers are expected to step out of the office (or go 20 feet away from the office) if they want to light up. The glamor associated with smoking has almost gone, and now smoking is associated with diseases like cancer and bad health. In such an environment, are companies discriminating against smokers when they are required to go out if they want to smoke (sometimes in freezing cold and sometimes in burning heat)? And, if smokers do take smoking breaks during work hours, should companies allow non-smokers to take equivalent breaks too? (Click here for a pro-smoking blog and here for an anti-smoking blog). Smoking in the workplace raises a number of questions. Smoking Room doesn’t answer any/all of them, but it does make them more salient. (Interestingly, it seems like employers are now testing for nicotine smoking like they test for drugs and alcohol).

The movie is really slow and not very engaging. Plus, it’s in a spanish, with English subtitles. If you can use non-English language movies with your audience, this may be a good movie to consider.


Swimming with Sharks (1994)

 Swimming with Sharks (1994) is the story of a young, ambitious Hollywood executive Guy (Frank Whaley) who gets a job as a personal assistant to a Hollywood movie mogul Buddy Ackerman (Kevin Spacey). Guy is fresh out of school and looks forward to working with Buddy to learn the movie business. Unfortunately, Buddy turns out to be an abusive boss who treats his employees like slaves, abuses them verbally, physically, and emotionally, and publicly humiliates them. Buddy’s behavior is so abusive that it not only affects Guy psychologically and emotionally, it also has a tremendous impact on his relationship with Dawn (Michelle Forbes0, a young movie producer. Finally, when Guy has had enough, he takes matters in his own hands and decides to show Buddy how it feels to be abused and humiliated.

This movie is about abusive workplace behavior. The fact that it is set in Hollywood, the dream destination of many young people, makes it an interesting watch! It shows many behaviors that abusive supervisors use against their employees. The scene where Guy needs to go to the bathroom but Buddy does not let him go certainly takes abusive supervision to a whole different level. When Guy complains about the way he is treated, Buddy is dismissive of him. Buddy’s attitude towards Guy’s complaints is that he just has to learn how to be tough and take it like a man, if he wants to succeed. (Click here if you want to read about abusive supervision at United States Postal Service, a high-visibility employer in the United States!). Just as in the movie, it is not uncommon for abusive supervision to lead to workplace violence. Click here if you want to read the No-Axxhxxe-Rule some recommend for employees who feel they may be in an abusive workplace.

The movie is somewhat slow, but it is a good movie is for courses or classes discussing abusive supervision, deviant work place behavior, human resource management, and organizational behavior.