5 TED talks every HR must watch

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

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, a HR consultant will explain what human resources mean. She explains how to infuse more humanity back to the work place 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 or 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 U.S.A, 70% of the employees are disengaged, and 20% actively disengaged with their employers. Meeting the employees’ requirement will improve the engagement and therefore higher productivity is expected. You can’t undermine employee engagement, as it is always expensive to 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 a HR manager for years until he quit his job in 1996. He explains the wrong practices used by HR experts in businesses. It turn 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 a time he had to take a test based on an entirely crazy theory “Spiral Dynamics”, which offer 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 haven’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 why the use of employee performance per year isn’t an effective way to measure employee capabilities. Companies uses this metric to determine the pay gaps and bonuses given to employees. Employee who perform 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 score. This is idea was brought on board by Jack Welch former CEO, 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 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 kind of people. The silver spoon and the scrappers. The silver spoon character are people who had all the advantages in life, and they were destined for success. The scrappers are people who had to go through tremendous drawbacks to get to the same position.

If you 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 a silver spoon. Think of scrapper at 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 his college, and ended up becoming one the world’s most renowned entrepreneur. 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 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 as advantage because they became better listeners and paid great attention to detail. Without this 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 Joe DeLoss a founder of fried chicken empire doesn’t love fried chicken, but loves HR? It could sound weird, but he explains it like you would never think before. He have 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 consider the really disadvantage in a bid to reduce turnover and the cycle of poverty. By this he have achieved the most reliable work force.

What can we learn from this talk?

HR is disruptive – If human resource is conducted properly there are massive advantages that comes 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 an answer. 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 human and human resources. The education system today have worked on creating a higher number of human resources. The lack of purpose in the 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 human as opposed to the current system where people are trained for the job market that is human resources. The purpose of our life should shift from creating more human resource, 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 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 once! Watch twice, and think twice.

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