10 TEDTalks That Will Help you Create an Employee Centered Organization

10 tedtalks to help you create an employee centred organization

From SouthWest Airlines to Airbnb the factor that unites successful organizations across industries is their employees. An engaged workforce is the key to increasing customer satisfaction, productivity and innovation. To truly create a great experience we have to get into the mindset of our employees, understand what motivates them, rethink team dynamics, create an inclusive work environment and break all the rules. Here are 10 TEDTalks we found that will help you create the ultimate employee journey:

Getting started

Diana Dosik: Why we need to treat our employees as thoughtfully as our customers

During this insightful talk, Diana Dosik highlights the benefits of borrowing customer journey mapping from your marketing team to map out an employee’s journey throughout your company. What are the pain points they face? What are their concerns? Using this methodology will give you the answers to the more abstract questions HR managers often deal with like “How do we improve engagement?” or “Why are we seeing higher turnovers of female engineers?”

Food for thought: How much time do business leaders spend understanding what their employees actually do and why? Less than 5%

Barry Schwartz: The way we think about work is broken

Why do your employees come to work? In the past, work was defined by an exchange of providing labor in return for a salary. Barry Schwartz explains that this not the only way to think about work. When you’re creating institutions, you’re also creating a way of thinking about work. Shaping it in a way that challenges and gives purpose to the time being put in will impact the reason your employees come to work every day.

Food for thought: Can we shape human nature through the institutions we create?

Shaping an inclusive work environment

Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?

Why are there still extreme disparities in the number of minorities in leadership and executive level positions today? According to Mellody Hobson, one of only two black women who chair publicly traded companies in the US today, the problem is that we’re not talking about race and diversity in the workplace. Instead of shying away from this discussion, she explains that if we really want to tackle this problem, we have to start by being open to talk about it. In an age when companies are publicly sharing their statistics on diversity, this is the perfect talk to get the conversation going.

Food for thought: Even though white men make up only 30% of the US population they take up 70% of corporate board seats.

Jason Fried: Why work doesn’t happen at work

If you’ve jumped on the open office space trend, think again. Think about where and when you get your best work done. In this TEDTalk Jason Fried controversially explains that M&Ms are two things that cause the most distraction in the workplace: managers and meetings. Like with sleep, work goes in phases and the longer you have to concentrate, the more likely you’ll be able to get into the deep thought cycle. Think about how you can make your work environment more conducive to getting distraction free work done.

Food for thought: How much more work would get done if you instituted a no talk Thursday or eliminated unnecessary meetings?

Creating top teams

Margaret Heffernan: Forget the pecking order at work

What makes a great team? Is it having the most intelligent or the most productive people? According to Margaret Heffernan, this is isn’t the answer. It turns out that the best teams are made up of people who are highly socially sensitive to each other and create an environment in which everyone is free to speak. Rather than encouraging employees through competition, maybe it’s time to see what fostering camaraderie, trust and helpfulness can do.

Food for thought: Are your top performers really your most valuable employees?

Amy Edmondson: Creating a psychologically safe work environment

In its own study into what makes a successful team, Google found that psychological safety was the top overarching factor that needed to be present. In this TEDTalk Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson, who coined originally coined the term, explains what psychological safety means, the impact it has on teams and how to foster it in your team.

Food for thought: Do better teams make fewer mistakes?

New ways to think about Motivation

Dan Ariely: What makes us feel good about our work?

Rather than discussing why we work, in one of the most viewed TEDTalks, behavioral economist Dan Ariely looks at work from a different perspective. He shares a number of studies and insights he’s learned about what really drives and kills an employee’s sense of motivation. This talk will inspire you to think deeper about what you can do to make your people feel great about the work they do.

Food for thought: What’s the key to making people enjoy their work?

Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation

Can money buy motivation? Businesses have traditionally used extrinsic motivators like salaries and bonuses to motivate people. In his hilarious and insightful TEDTalk Dan Pink explains why this doesn’t work. Instead, intrinsic motivators like autonomy, mastery and purpose are the keys to creating long term motivation that will keep people going even during tough times.

Food for thought: How do you inspire self-motivation?

Don’t know where to start? Break all the rules

Ricardo Semler: How to run a company with (almost) no rules

CEO Ricardo Semler explains how his company took a radical approach to designing their employee experience. They began by questioning everything. Why can’t employees set their own salaries? Shouldn’t we let our people decide who they want to be managers? Why not allow people to decide when and how long they want to go on vacation for? Listen and learn from a company that truly decided to break all the rules.

Food for thought: What would happen if you let employees decide for themselves how, when, what and where they want to work?

Leading the change

Jim Hemerling: 5 ways to lead in an era of constant change

After watching the previous TEDTalks are you now energized and ready to start making changes? Even if you’re excited about taking this new step, now you have to get everyone else excited about taking it with you. Rather than looking at it as a one time change, Jim Hemerling encourages companies to move towards an always on transformation. You want your employees to continue learning, growing and transforming their performance, likewise organizations should always be improving their employee’s experience. Hemerling provides 5 tips to help you lead an employee first transformation.

Food for thought: Just like employee development, organizations should also always be evolving to improve their performance.


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Steffen Maier

Steffen Maier is co-founder of Impraise a web-based and mobile solution for actionable, timely feedback at work. Based in New York and Amsterdam, Impraise turns tedious annual performance reviews into an easy process by enabling users to give and receive valuable feedback in real-time and when it’s most helpful. The tool includes an extensive analytics platform to analyze key strengths and predict talent gaps and coaching needs.

Reader Interactions


  1. Red Hibiscus says

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