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5 HR Lessons the Oscars Can Teach Us

Sunita Khatri
Director, Product Marketing

The red carpet has been rolled up and the podium put away, but those breathtaking Oscar moments when a nominee is named a winner are still on our minds.

You have to wonder: Wouldn't it be great if everyone could be that excited about workplace performance? It's true that the role of a movie star comes with unique perks, but actors are still people, and acting is still a job. It takes hard work and dedication to succeed and be recognized by your industry as among the best.

What can the Oscars teach HR professionals about motivation and performance? Consider these five lessons from Sunday’s ceremony:

1. Passion (or Lack Thereof) Dictates Performance

Oscar nominees and winners are passionate about what they do. Consider Leonardo DiCaprio’s persistence in taking on challenging and diverse roles. His work has earned him six Oscar nominations—his first when he was just a boy—because he never lowered his standards for the quality of his roles.

Employees who are emotionally intelligent are passionate about what they do, and emotional intelligence is part of a healthy company culture

2. Casting Counts When It Matters Most

The movie Joy was originally expected to receive multiple Oscar nominations until a studio exec ordered a script rewrite. Critics panned the movie’s final script but praised Jennifer Lawrence in the title role. Ultimately, her nomination for Best Actress was the only Oscar nod the movie received.

Best Actress winner Brie Larson showed why casting counts for another reason: She appeared in Room, which cost a mere $13 million to make versus the $60 million Joy cost.

Every company needs both Jennifer Lawrence and Brie Larson types, and the more the better. Attracting the best talent you can pays off every day, but it’s especially important during difficult times. Company success—just like movie success—depends on it.

3. Professionals Need Opportunities to Reach Their Full Potential

It’s rare for actors to receive Oscar nominations for their debut roles. Most have to develop their skills over time and wait for the right role to reach their full potential. All jobs are this way, and people know it.

If your turnover is higher than you want it to be and key people are leaving, lack of opportunity and advancement could be why.

4. Offer Available and Fair Advancement Opportunities

A lot of Oscar talk this year—and much of host Chris Rock’s opening remarks—centered on the lack of minority nominees as well as an overall lack of meaningful roles and equal pay for women and minorities in Hollywood. Both the famous and unfamous displayed strong opinions on social media about this subject.

Most HR professionals already know that programs that increase employee diversity produce business benefits, such as better employee engagement, but the beating the Oscars got this year reminds us that fostering diversity has become an expectation among employees and customers.

This shift is evident in 24/7 WallStreet’s list of the best companies to work for. The list is based on feedback from Glassdoor, the job website, and even some of the top ranked companies were cited for failing in this area.

5. In-Person Events Matter

The Oscars are the ultimate networking event for Hollywood, and the allure of experiencing star moments will ensure that it continues to be a high-class gala. People want to meet others in person, learn from them, and—at times—bask in their star power.

You can do all three of these in April at Oracle HCM World. In addition to participating in networking and education, you’ll have a chance to hear from HR stars such as Peter Cappelli, director at the Wharton Center for Human Resources, Debbie Sterling, Founder and CEO of Goldieblox, William Tompkins, SVP of HR and Total Rewards at Macys and more. 

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