5 TED talks every HR must watch

June 5, 2017

In any business context, regardless of the products or services you offer, one rule applies across the board: people matter. When it comes to business success, your employees are your single most important resource – and one of the costliest, as well. Sometimes HR experts forget that they should not only find the most talented people for each position, but also stoke their passion to do their best and keep improving. Here are 5 great TED talks every HR expert should consider watching.

1. Mary Schaefer – Putting the human back into human resources.

In about 10 minutes or less Mary Schaefer, an HR consultant will explain what human resources mean. She explains how to infuse more humanity back into the workplace for those human beings who happen to be employees.

What can we learn from this talk?

We learn more about the difference between treating employees humanly and humanely. Think of it this way, can you deny your car what it needs? Why then should you mistreat your employees? Human beings are feeling beings and they need to be treated humanely. It is important for employers to address the very human needs required by employees such as; being appreciated, feeling of belonging, and ensuring employees’ meaningful contributions are taken into consideration. Employers should always work towards helping their employees achieve more i.e. helping employees get promotions at the job places. In a study conducted in the U.S.A, 70% of the employees are disengaged, and 20% are actively disengaged with their employers. Meeting the employees’ requirements will improve engagement and therefore higher productivity is expected. You can’t undermine employee engagement, as it is always expensive for the business in the long run. Mary Schaefer advocates for employers to honor someone’s worth at work.

2. Patrick Vermeren – The uncomfortable truth of HR and leadership development. 

A fanciful TED talk by Patrick Vermeren explaining the uncomfortable truth of HR. It is a story built on his personal experience as an HR manager for years until he quit his job in 1996. He explains the wrong practices used by HR experts in businesses. It turns out that there are many models which give the wrong information. He gives an enticing story of Pete, a man who had been a successful manager for many years until time he had to take a test based on an entirely crazy theory “Spiral Dynamics”, which offers an alternative explanation for human evolution. After the test, he lost his position as a manager and got fired a few months later. 5 years later he hasn’t found a new job, because he felt so depressed, he and her wife had to sell their house, and they live in a small apartment.

What can we learn from this talk?

Patrick Vermeren gives an explanation of why the use of employee performance per year isn’t an effective way to measure employee capabilities. Companies use this metric to determine the pay gaps and bonuses given to employees. An employee who performs poorly in each year’s performance score is subjected to training. The training models used to train the staff are sometimes wrong. In some cases, companies fire the bottom 10% of employees based on yearly performance scores. This is idea was brought on board by Jack Welch former CEO, of General Electric. He argues that this is the worst idea ever. The real truth according to Patrick Vermeren is that giving people a score has zero effect on performance.

3. Regina Hartley – Why the best hire might not have a perfect resume. 

In about 10 minutes Regina Hartley will be giving a sense of who a perfect hire should be. As a hiring manager, you are poised with a dilemma when choosing from applications made by 2 University graduates who applied for a job at your company, both qualified for the position. According to Regina Hartley, there are 2 kinds of people. The silver spoon and the scrappers. The silver spoon character is people who had all the advantages in life and were destined for success. Scrappers are people who had to go through tremendous drawbacks to get to the same position.

If your whole life is engineered toward success, how will you handle the tough time? For example in her company an employee who had graduated from an elite university couldn’t do manual work, to better understand an operation, and eventually, he quit the job. At this point, she describes this person as a silver spoon. Think of a scrapper in the same position, someone who had experienced early hardships anywhere from poverty, abandonment, death of their parents, learning disabilities to alcoholism and violence.

What can we learn from this talk?

The story of Steve Jobs, a person who never completed college, and ended up becoming one the world’s most renowned entrepreneurs. He was brought up in the scrapper’s kind of life, he could do anything to ensure that he succeeded in his business. Among those entrepreneurs in the U.S.A who experienced post-traumatic growth in their life. They now view their learning disability as a desire for difficulty which provides them an advantage because they became better listeners and paid great attention to detail. Without these experiences, they couldn’t have developed the muscle required to become successful. That is why you need to hire a scrapper.

4. Joe DeLoss – How a new lens on “HR” can reduce turnover and the cycle of poverty. 

Why does Joe DeLoss a founder of the fried chicken empire doesn’t love fried chicken but loves HR? It could sound weird, but he explains it as you would never think before. He has really discovered that not too many people love HR. He combines entrepreneurship and creating a social impact as significant pillars in building his empire. When hiring employees he really considers the real disadvantage in a bid to reduce turnover and the cycle of poverty. By this, he has achieved the most reliable workforce.

What can we learn from this talk?

HR is disruptive – If human resources is conducted properly there are massive advantages that come with it i.e. profits to the business as you will spend less money re-hiring, training, and on wages.

5. Rahim Sajan – Resourceful Human vs Human Resources. 

Where are we now? What are we doing? Where are we going? These are questions Rahim is trying to get answers. He articulately uses the word VUCA world. This means that the world has become volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous due to many factors.

There is a great difference between resourceful humans and human resources. The education system today has worked on creating a higher number of human resources. The lack of purpose in education is going to continuously produce the same. Human resources struggle to adapt to change while resourceful human adapts to change effectively.  Human resources are sometimes not innovative, and they fail to adapt to the ever-changing market.

What can we learn from this talk?

We need to ensure that we are producing more resourceful humans as opposed to the current system where people are trained for the job market which is human resources. The purpose of our life should shift from creating more human resources, and embrace the production of more resourceful humans through our education system.

Conclusion. Certainly, these are some of the best TED talks every HR professional should have watched. The amazing guidance given by experienced HR experts will without a doubt take your business to the next level. Understanding how to effectively manage your human resource is significant to any business today. Don’t watch it once! Watch twice, and think twice.